Undaunted by our experience with Ace, we decided to follow my brother's recommendation and we went to the League of Animal Protection in Huntington. Our mission was simple. We want to find a female dog that loved people. A volunteer there, Maureen Hickey, recommended Twinkie, a three year old pit bull/boxer mix that was neglected by its previous owner. We had looked at their web site ahead of time for dogs we were interested in and we had seen Twinkie. Also, unlike North Shore Animal League, which seemed to have no documentation on Ace, Maureen pulled out a huge binder and went to Twinkie's section. She described all of Twinkie's traits - housebroken, very good with dropping bones on command, very friendly. And sure enough Twinkie was very friendly with us. So we agreed to adopt Twinkie and brought her home. Maureen would call us every so often to see how Twinkie was doing in her new home. We knew right there Twinkie was something special.
Twinkie had her faults. Sometimes, you had to yell at her to do something. Twinkie was at times mentally hard headed as she was physically hard headed. Another fault was that you could not leave a gate open. Twinkie liked to explore and liked to be free. We found this out a couple of times early on. You could catch her if you brought some treats. Twinkie also loved to chase cats, because being your classic dog, she hated cats. My neighbors two doors down the street have a black and white cat that loved being in our yard, and loved taunting Twinkie.
So we went up to Saratoga Springs for a couple of days. We also happened to go right around the time of Americade. When we were driving up Interstate 87, a couple of motorcyclists drove past us and Twinkie went ballistic, barking at them. We found out right there that Twinkie hates loud noises, especially motorcycles. When we walked Twinkie in town, we also learned that she liked to play tough dog to bigger dogs and barked at them incessantly. While in a park, Twinkie also nearly caught a chipmunk, thus we found out she liked to hunt.
Twinkie lived for walks. It could be freezing out, ice on the sidewalk, snow everywhere. Didn't matter to her. And I had to walk her because she was incredibly strong. Thank goodness for that harness which kept her relatively calm. You couldn't walk her on a regular leash because she was so excited to be out walking that she would practically choke herself.
When our older son Matthew was born on July 26, 2005, he came home a few days later. Twinkie knew that Chelle was pregnant but had no idea what was going to be the result. When Matthew came home and cried for the first time, Twinkie not liking loud noises, bolted up the stairs and hid. She got used to it though. As Matthew got old enough to play with Twinkie, she was a little unnerved by his lack of motor skills. But she got used to his hard patting of her and gracefully took a two year old's idea of petting the dog. When Jonathan got older and patted her even harder, Twinkie barely batted an eye.
The doctor was right. It would come back in the same spot. In late Spring of 2008, it was decided that her front leg would be amputated so that we could spare her life from it. When Twinkie came out of the surgery, she was quite sad. The dog that loved going for walks and running around in the backyard now was short one leg and her life wouldn't be the same.
During this time, Matthew and Twinkie developed a very close friendship. Twinkie no longer slept in our bed, but slept in Matthew's bed. She would sit next to him on the couch, next to him on his Thomas chair, on the floor, wherever. When Matthew went outside to play baseball or basketball, Twinkie followed. They became best buds.
In April of 2010, Twinkie had a checkup. The doctor pronounced a clean bill of health. The tumor had not reoccurred in over a year and a half, and it seemed Twinkie would lead a long life being best bud to two little boys. But a few months later, she developed a bump around her hind quarter where her leg was amputated. We went to the doctor. The tumor had come back. There was nothing we could do now but let it run its course.
A few months ago, Twinkie started losing her appetite. She would still eat, especially treats and people food, but you would have to cajole to eat her regular food. Often I would have to put cheese on the food for her to eat it. She also did something she had never done. Twinkie bit Jonathan out of pain when he accidentally hit her too hard in the tumor area. She was hurting. Another sign of her being in pain was that she would go behind the futon loveseat during the day. It was her way of hiding and trying to find a place to rest.
Yesterday, I was supposed to go to a project manager chapter meeting. For some reason, something was telling me not to go. I figured it was due to the warm weather and I called Chelle and told her I was not going. I was going to pick up Jonathan from day care as I normally do and then I figured we would go to the beach.
During this time, I brought Matthew outside and as simply and gently as I could, I told him what was going on with Twinkie and what had to be done. He was heartbroken. Twinkie had become his dog, his best friend and he didn't want her to go yet. But through his tears, he understood this was for the best. He fed her half a box of treats and stayed with her outside until we had to go. When Chelle's parents came to watch Matthew and Jonathan, they both said goodbye to Twinkie.
We sat in the waiting room for several minutes. Normally Twinkie would always get nervous and want to bolt from there. But in her condition, she was tired. She simply laid down in my lap with both of us petting her. One of the attendants came and took her to put a catheter in her left arm. Then she brought Twinkie to a room and put Twinkie on a table covered with a blanket. I put my arm to keep her on the table and we waited several more minutes as we kept petting her. She knew the end was coming and seemed ready to accept it.
We both left the hospital with tears in our eyes. As we headed to the car, the doctor came outside and said that he thought we wanted these. It was her collar and her tags. We had completely forgot about them. We thanked him for doing that and left for home. When we got there Matthew and Jonathan were playing with Chelle's parents. They left and we talked with Matthew. Matthew couldn't grasp that she went to sleep for good and wondered when she would wake up. Finally Chelle told him that she died and sadly he accepted it.
This morning, Matthew woke up and came downstairs crying. For the first time in two plus years, Twinkie was not there in his bed to greet him. It will take him some time to get over this, as it will for Chelle and me as well. Twinkie was our first child, my son's best friend.
We got such a great outpouring of condolences from many Facebook friends. Many of those friends are law school alums. When they were students, I had given presentations at Orientation about technology at the Law School. My last slide was a picture of Twinkie with the preface that if you want to ask me a question, you had to ask first "How's Twinkie doing?" Many students did exactly that and many of them remembered yesterday and today, the neighborhood mush, Twinkie.
One of my favorite songs is John Hiatt's "My Dog and Me". In the song, Hiatt sings the following;
Buddy I coulda gone that extra mile
For an extra bark or an extra smile
Cause i never felt so free
It was just my dog and me
May you be in peace my faithful friend. Your family will always love and remember you.