There are many reasons to have a pack full of young dogs. A parent has the privilege of witnessing them growing up together and watching them form an unbreakable bond that only souls who experience life stages together can do. When they are young and delighting their parents by romping across the green grass together, it is easy for humans to convince themselves that this is how it will be forever.
It is a thrill to see pups age, learn things, and become adults as a pack. Sadly, they become seniors together, too, and that inevitably leads to massive heartache for their parents.
The Portuguese Water Dog blog has been delighting readers for years. We love getting updates about this awesome pack. As they age, we experienced them growing old together and tried to ignore the signs of diminishing heartbeats.
In February, Fudge was the first to make that final trip to the Bridge. In June, Sebastian and Noah joined him. Then, this week, Tess tragically became the fourth member of the Portuguese Water Dogs to cross over in a year. The devastation of losing numerous dogs in a matter of months is unimaginable, and now their resilient parents will try to find their way through the twisted path of grief again. They have walked it to often recently, but each time they start down the road, it gets longer.
Tess' troubles began on October 1, when she collapsed. Her mom hurried to her side. Tess' eyes darted back and forth, and she was holding her head at a strange angle. Her mom called the vet, but he could not see her until the next day. Tess struggled through the night vomiting and unable to stand. When she got to the vet, she was diagnosed with vestibular disease, a disturbance of balance.
Her parents did everything they could to make Tess comfortable.
The vet hoped that she would regain her balance and be able to walk after a short recovery. Until then, her parents gladly doted on their girl. They lay with her and massaged her legs, shampooed her, kept her bedding clean, fed her by hand, and pulled her across the lawn on a sled so she could enjoy the beautiful fall weather. While on the sled, she grew agitated and wanted off. She stood, but when she walked, she fell. Being able to stand was a great sign, but she would have to walk to keep the Bridge at bay.
The next day she was standing on her own and even peed on the grass. It doesn't seem like much to most of us, but elder humans and dogs know to pee with dignity is a fantastic gift.
There was good and bad over the course of the next week. Tess was behind schedule when it came to walking. On the positive side, she was eating on her own; she let her parents know when it was time to go outside, and once there, she was able to stand, take a few steps and do her business, but she could not stand inside.
From that point, Tess' progress plateaued. Her parents knew for the fourth time this year; they would have to make the world's hardest decision and take her pain away by sending her to the immortal side.
With three angel siblings, whom she had visited in their dreams, Tess was well aware of how to be a perfect angel. She took to visiting her parents while they slept, to assuming the bodies of small flying creatures for trips to the mortal side, to acing ghost visits, in no time. She also showed a unique ability to answer prayers quickly and responsibly. She moved into a room at the Portuguese Water Dog mansion, the home that was awarded to the pack for all the good they did on the mortal side. It is on the river so they can go swimming every day.
At night they lead their parents, leading through grief's dark road. They will stay with them until they are on the other side, where they can heal.
Our angels always lead us out of the darkness.