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Shana, my Chow mix

Story ID:7003
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:Lakewood Ohio USA
Year:2001
Person:Suzana
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37. Shana

Some of you have a copy of my book "Blame it on Peaches." Today, my thoughts went to Shana and I don't know why, but I was prompted to reread her chapter in my book. I thought maybe some of you might want to read about her beautiful life. It is rather long and I don't know if this is the proper venue for sharing it, but I'm sure you'll let me know if it isn't.


Every time I walk up the two steps in my hall way, I see the gum
markings of white tape I have removed. These are a reminder that
my dear sweet Shana, a red Chow-mix is no more. At 12, she didn't
seem to trust her vision going down even those 2 steps, so I had
torn off a strip of white tape for each black-treaded step in hopes
that her eyes would pick up on the stark white contrast. I even tried
to help her failing sight with leutin. After all, if this herb is suppose
to help people vision --then why not dog vision as well?

My German friend Anna had found Shana roaming about the
neighborhood and took her to the upstairs of a double where she
was living. She knew that she could not keep her because she
probably noticed --that even then at a young age, Shana would
probably have trouble making those stairs daily.

I'm not much of a big-dog person, but I didn't have much choice
in the matter. I always have to laugh when I see a tiny person with
a very large dog, and conversely, see a very large person with a tiny
dog like a Chihuahua or Yorkie. I would not be conspicuous in this
way, because I'm neither tiny or very large.

Now, I had the large dog I never really wanted. However, I am grateful
to God that she was sent my way. She had the lovely furry coat of a red
chow as well as their distinquishing mark --a purple tongue which I found
fascinating. No doubt about it--she was an attractive dog. However, her
luxurious coat came with a price. It required a lot of combing, especially
in Spring.

As I was primarily feeding my "crew"- Angel, Shana and Patti -- Nature
Recipe Vegetarian dog food -- both canned and kibble, Shana proved to
be a great subject for vegetarian fare. She ate whatever I placed before
her. Patti was more picky and not especially fond of the dry kibble. It took
her forever to clear her bowl even though she was basically an "inhaler"
with the foods she really liked. No treats would follow unless she did so.
I think Angel also ate what I gave her, but not with the same relish and
appreciation as Shana.

I was convinced that dogs would be healthier on more vegetarian fare.
While in the wild, they may have polished off small animals, my friend
reminded me, that they probably also didn't live very long either. I don't
know what this particular Australian cattle dog ate, but at 29, he holds
the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living dog.

But I'm happy to report that Bramble, a VEGAN Border Collie, at 27 is
encroaching on this record and may even break it. Obviously, her vegan
diet of rice, lentils, and organic vegetables, plus weekly swimming
sessions and daily romps outdoors were the winning "secrets" for her
longevity. God speed Bramble! My Peaches was born a year before
you, and how I wish that I could have had her for 27 years!

Where my first 3 dogs--Peaches, Muffin, and Tina would not know
the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, I try to incorporate at least a vegetarian
menu for my present dogs. As in people, I believe the answer to good
health is a healthy diet and exercise. I keep on reading that too much
meat and dairy is not healthy for people, and that a vegan diet may even
prevent heart problems and cancer.

I was surprised that all of them, including Patti liked cooked green beans,
broccoli, carrots, peas, and cauliflower. So I often covered their kibble with
my vegan veggie soups and stews. When it came to dessert, Shana especially
enjoyed canteloupe and watermellon in season. They also each got a cook-
ie and milk bone every day.

Vets may tell us not to give dogs people food, but, I personally feel that my
basically low fat food was probably healthier for them then the often
questionable ingredients of commercial dog products.

So, Shana reached her 12th year, and I felt we were doing something right.
But the unexpected happened during the week of the Twin Tower Tragedy.
During that same week my beloved Shana died quickly and unexpectedly.
Her death shouldn't have happened -- at least, not the way it did.

My first inkling that something was wrong with Shana came the week
before when she wet herself as she slept. For such a large dog of 70
pounds, I always marveled at how well she held her urine. She seemed
to hold it until I walked her, and then she let out a prodigious amount
of it in a stream which could probably fill a pint bottle. This made me
think that she had good kidneys. Once I even laughed when some youth
seeing Shana urinate made it a point to tell me to let her out more often!

Shana, though, was not completely healthy because she had a hypo-thyroid
condition which was only diagnosed some 5 years earlier. It was discovered
when Shana suddenly lost her zest for walking. She refused to walk with us,
and preferred settling down to the comfort of our enclosed backyard.

When she was finally diagnosed with a sluggish thyroid, I then understood
her reluctance to walk. She just didn't have any energy for it. But now,
taking the presecribed thyroid tabs, she happily joined us on our outings.

But I was not happy that she would be dependent on a drug. In my own
personal life, I try to avoid drugs like the plague because I feel they often
cause harmful side effects. I also connect them with animal suffering
in research labs. I believe that my Peaches' immune system had been
compromised and her kidneys destroyed because of the steroid Prednisone
I had given her for her allergy problems. In hind sight, I wished that I
had looked for alternatives. I also wish that vets had done the same.

Now, feeling the need of vitamins to bolster my aging self, I looked for
more natural medicines in my vitamin catalogue for Shana as well. If Thyroid
Essentials and Kelp could help people with a sluggish thyroid, maybe they
could also help Shana. I ordered both, but was never able to use either
of the supplements to treat Shana. I would not have hesitated using those
supplements, despite the naysayers. I have seen too many drugs recalled
for harmful side effects, that I doubt whether these supplements would
either have hurt her or interferred with the thyrod tabs she was taking.
I would rather take my chances with supplements than drugs, given the
choice.

After her wetting accident, it became apparent to me that something
was indeed wrong with her. Two problems now faced me at this time.
Shana, being a large dog, I would have difficulty getting her into my car
in her weakened condition, and an even bigger problem it seemed at
the time-- the main street which faced the animal hospital was undergoing
reconstruction, so I couldn't use my car anyways.

A few weeks earlier Shana had been to this animal hospital to have her
hypo-thyrodism checked. It seemed that everything was fine, and that
the prescribed dosage of the thyroid tabs was appropriate. They even
noted that her thyroid reading was even better than the last time. She was
also due for a rabies shot, and it was administered to her at this visit as well.

I felt euphoric when we left the vets --confident that Shana was well, and
that her hypo-thyroidism was under control. Shana would be with us for
more years, I happily thought.

In hindsight, I wish that I had asked the vets to give Shana a Smac test
at this check-up which might have revealed the true condition of her
health. Admittedly, this test is probably expensive, but I think it should
be suggested as a standard option for an aging dog -- especially for a
large one like Shana.

Before I got a chance to make an apointment for Shana, the evening when
I let both Patti and Shana take a small stroll to the front of the house, Shana
had a very difficult time returning to the backyard. But she did, and I was
grateful that she also managed the two steps up into our place for the night.

The next day I called the hospital about my concerns, and either they or
I decided it would be a good thing to have her urine tested. I should
have spoken directly to a vet, but I felt certain the girl answering my call
would have relayed my concerns. Now, I'm not so sure. However, I brought
in Shana's urine specimen that day. I called the vet's the next day re the
results of the urine test, but was told that the vet who accepted my
specimen wasn't in to give the results, and that I should call the next day
re them.

I was shocked and upset at this reply. I could not believe my ears. I told
the attendee that this was unacceptable, and wasn't there any other doctor
available to give me the results? I told them that Shana was hurting, and I
couldn't bring her in because of the closed street as well as of her deteriorating
condition.

Finally, a vet called me a couple of hours later, and said that there were suspicious
cells in her urine. Did I want medication and further testing? The testing would
cost a $100 more. Yes, I said I would be down for the medicine and to go ahead
with the testing. There would be no need for further testing. There would be no
need for the medicine that I picked up on the same day I called.

Again, I let one of my beloved animals down. I should have called for
a mobile doctor unit. Or, I could have asked Alan my friend to help me
get Shana to an emergeny clinic. I even wish that the hospital had
suggested those options to me as well.

My darling Shana whimpered through most of the night. I couldn't get
her back into the house because she was unable to walk at this point. It
was a beautiful September night, and I spent part of it with her. Before
I left her to go in for the night, she lovingly gave me a surprise kiss.

I was able to fall asleep because I didn't hear her whimper any more.
The reason she didn't whimper any more was that her precious life ebbed
away as I lay sleeping. In the morning, I found my beautiful, gentle,
and loving Shana with her warm loving eyes still opened, but her body
lifeless. How I wished that I could have given her the kiss of life, but my
kisses only brought me some very small measure of comfort.

I wish that I had done more for you, my dearest Shana. Definitely, the
animal hospital could have done more too. I let them know by letter how
disappointed I was in their service, or should I say, lack of it. I pray to God
that I will never be so desparate as to have to set foot again in that place
of such little compassion and concern for me and my darling Shana.

They were not even kind enough to respond to me by letter re their apparent
lack of concern in this emergency. I suppose they wanted to protect
themselves from litigation. I am not a litigious person. In fact, I find people
who bring suit at the drop of a hat to be in class of small and unforgiving
people. However, they could not have known this about me.

On my answering machine, the vet who had originally called about
Shana's specimen left a message for me to call back. She was the last
person I wanted to talk to at this time. Her hollow words and her original
lack of concern for Shana would not bring her back.

They could have also sent me some acknowledgment of their sorrow re
Shana's death, but didn't. For me, this was basically a profit-making
institution without heart. They even did not send me the requested
information re the further testing I requested for $100. They may have
$100 bills to "throw" around. I didn't.

It was Tuesday, Sept 11, 2001 that the Twin Towers had been violently and
callously battered by Islamic terrorists using gasoline-filled airplanes with
passengers on board as missiles. We as nation mourned the loss of so many
innocent lives.

It was Thursday, Sept.13, 2001 that I also suffered a loss to my family --
not from a terrorist attack --but from my own poor stewardship and the
indifference of a profit-making animal hospital without heart. I, too, grieved
for all the victims of that terrible happening, but I also grieved for my Shana.

Alan, my neighbor friend, who works from home, helped me take Shana
to Grafton, a rural community where my nephew and his family live. There
beyond the rounded circle of ground which was used to exercise
Butch, their young horse, was a small but very pretty wooded area with
tall trees and brush.

We laid you to rest there Shana in a lovely spot-- in an opening between
two trees. I also brought the ashes of my beloved Peaches, Muffin, and Tina.
I had wanted their ashes to be placed in my coffin, but realized that burying
my loved ones together here in this lovely wooded place, I would make it
easier for those commissioned to carry out my final wishes. And I would
also now be certain that these beloved ashes would not be forgotten
or thrown away.

I am left with wonderful memories of you, Shana. You and I were eating
buddies. We both loved corn-on-the-cob, as well as the sweet cantaloupes
and watermellons of summer. I would give you half a cob of corn, and you
ate it so daintily--leaving not a single kernel on it when you finished. When I
gave Patti or Angel half a cob, they just ate the whole thing - kernels and
cob. Thereafter, I had to remove the kernels from the cob for those two.

Then neither Patti or Angel ever caught on to why we both liked ice-cold
watermellon on a hot summer day. Well, no matter, there would be more
for us. Ditto--the cantaloupe. And even "Palko" (Slovak for Paul) our cat
was enticed by the delicious-looking red watermellon chunks we ate with
such relish and came to me for some. He then sucked the sweet refreshing
juice from the watermellon, leaving the pulp for me!

You were also never a finicky eater for which I was grateful. There was no
waste in our house. My dear parents had never said it in so many words,
but because of how hard they had to work to put food on our table, their
mantra could well have been -- waste not, want not. And, somehow, this
also rubbed off onto us three sisters in a greater or lessor degree. One
thing for sure though, I am probably the best recycler of the three, while
my two sisters probably spent money more wisely and carefully.

Shana, when well, you were also a pleasure to walk. Patti was not. I think
she must have a lot of Huskie in her because she loves to pull. For a long
time after your death, I found it hard to cross the street and walk the
same path the three of us had so often taken. And your kisses with your
purple tongue were very special. I can only describe them as being "sweet."
Not even a hint of halitosis on your breath. I will always miss your kisses,
Shana, and I will always miss you.

Some people may not understand why I and other people like me feel so
close to our companion animals. Ann Landers gave what I thought was
an appropriate reply to a woman who was annoyed when her friend would
sign cards from hersef and her poodle. Ann reminded her that many people
consider pets as part of the family, and said even if she felt it is wacky, to
accept it. In concluding she said, "Remember, dear, everyone is a little
queer -- but thee and me."