A Waiting Friend on the Rainbow Bridge

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Albert: 8/3/02 to 4/30/15

During the few days since we lost our loyal little Miniature Schnauzer, Albert, I have tried to decide whether to pen a few words in his memory.

Then I thought of something my dad said to me many years ago (we all have certain bits of advice that stay with us forever). "If you feel really led to do something, you really ought to do it," he said.

So, I feel led to write about Albert.

In doing so, my intent is to honor him and what he meant to Nancy and me, but also to recognize all our many friends who understand what we are going through because of their own love for the loyal pets that came into their lives.

Albert arrived as a furry black puppy who was playful and lots of fun. But it didn't take long to realize there was something wrong, as he just wasn't growing and seemed to be in something of a "daze" as he kind of wobbled across the carpet or lawn.

It took some time to diagnose the problem, but an alert veterinarian discovered a liver shunt. That meant that his blood was not being processed properly. He was literally on the verge of death, weighing only four pounds, when he had major surgery at about six months of age.

He miraculously survived the surgery, but the vet told us he would be fortunate to reach his seventh birthday.

Wrapped in a full-body bandage, he returned home and began his difficult recovery. He eventually began to thrive and turned into a healthy little dog. He was the runt of the litter and his health problems were a factor, so he was always very small for the breed. There is no question that led to our "babying" him to a degree somewhat over-the-top.

Thus began an almost 13-year relationship with our little friend, which involved his basically being with us all the time, both home and away. He was too fragile to leave in a kennel (we tried it a time or two), so he went with us everywhere. He loved traveling in our RV on camping trips and he was king of the road. He logged 14 different states and loved every minute of it.

Albert's loyalty was over the top on many, many levels. He always wanted to be with us, but sometimes had trouble knowing how to handle that. In our two-story house, if one of us was upstairs and the other downstairs, he would compromise and rest on the stairway landing until we both ended up on the same level.

When we were away from the house, he would sit motionless near a window watching for our return. On camping trips, if we were gone in the car, he would stand for hours on the dash of the RV, a sentinel watching and waiting.

He was a beautiful and active little dog, but always somewhat fragile. He developed heart problems which made it difficult for him to breathe. Then suddenly last week a fast-growing tumor was discovered in his throat. Surgery was theoretically possible, but not practical or humane considering his age and health. We made the extremely difficult decision to bring a peaceful end to his suffering last Thursday.

Again, we know others have been down this same road -- these remembrances and tribute come with the understanding and sense of sharing that many have experienced the love and the loss of a most trusted and loyal friend.

We are certain those of you who understand do indeed hope there is a "Rainbow Bridge" where your friend will suddenly look up, see you coming and immediately cast that familiar look of unconditional love your way.