May 29, 2011
1997 - 2011
Retired Therapy Dog and Disaster Stress Relief Dog
Best dog ever
Pumpkin came to me at 18 months old from a pit bull rescue. Her original owner had neglected and probably abused her, and she needed several surgeries due to a prolapsed rectum that had been left untreated to the point where the tissue was dying. Rescue patched her up and was looking for a good home right around the time I had lost one of my English Bulldogs to a sudden heart attack. She was my first American Pit Bull Terrier and largely responsible for my love and dedication to the breed from then on.
She stole my other bulldog's heart (and he generally never saw any use for other dogs). He had to sleep with her, and would lie next to her and gently fold one of her ears into his mouth and suck on it. Poor Pumpkin lived with slimy ears but never complained.
When I brought home a rescue bulldog Pumpkin immediately took her under her wing and made her welcome. Same went for when I got Idgie as a puppy. Pumpkin cheerfully became a surrogate mom, playing tug and wrestling with the puppy for hours on end.
Pumpkin was one of those dogs that was born to do therapy work. She was certified through Therapy Dogs International, and visited the sick in the hospital, mental hospital, nursing homes and shelters. She would wear crazy outfits cheerfully and never complained. After 9/11, she was one of the first certified Disaster Stress Relief dogs, working to bring a ray of sunshine at the Pentagon's Family Assistance Center. She comforted victim's families, soldiers, chaplains and rescue workers alike, working long exhausting emotional days without hesitation.
As an older dog, she had severe arthritis, brought on by a combination of medical issues over the years. She couldn't walk well, but stayed full of her joy for life. She taught me, as a newly diagnosed chronic pain patient, how to cope with a new world. When she could no longer walk up stairs or long distances I carried all 60lbs of her so she could still sleep in bed with me, and enjoy a nightly snack of Pepperidge Farm goldfish, our special treat before turning out the lights.
Yesterday Pumpkin started vomiting, but it stabilized and she was resting when I left the house for a few hours. When I came home there was blood everywhere. She was bleeding severely from her intestines. The ER stabilized her, but she developed a clotting disorder complication and would not stop bleeding. There were a few things we could have tried, but the outlook was not good due to her age, and the vet felt that the stress to her system would probably erode any of her remaining mobility if she even reovered.
At 4 am, I drove back to the ER to be with her for the final time.
There will never be another Pumpkin. You will be in my heart always my sweet, and now you are pain free once again, free to run and play and bring your special brand of joy to the next life. I hope I can live the rest of my life with even half of the grace, dignity and love that you had.