Monday, March 26, 2018

Remembering Nacho

I knew there would come a day that we'd have to say goodbye to Nacho and honestly I'm surprised this day didn't come years ago. His health has declined quite significantly since Spence passed away. It was a little slower at first, but then picked up speed as his joints grew stiffer, his appetite grew smaller, and his wish to sleep away the day and not budge outweighed all other options during the day and night.

He's been living with my parents since Spencer died and has bonded with mom, and about mom only. My mom and sister visited me last weekend and mentioned that they thought they'd have to put him down. I didn't say too much, kind of avoiding the topic and stating that I knew the time would come. I changed the subject fairly quickly because I didn't really want to think about it.

But mom sent me a text message that said tomorrow was going to have to be the day. His white cell count is off the charts high and his liver and kidney's are failing. She desired to take him home one last night and love on him all that she could before tomorrow. I appreciate that very much. That text message just hit me kind of unexpectedly. I didn't really have any wave of emotion but tears welded up in my eyes and started to roll down my cheek. I knew it'd affect me, I just haven't wanted to think about it.

It's really hard to not feel like another little piece of Spencer is going with Nacho. Little by little it feels like he slips further and further away. Friends of his die taking cherished memories along with them. possessions get forgotten, given away, and those not needed thrown away. Pictures get pushed back into the gallery as new ones replace them. My own memories fade and become lost in time seemingly impossible to capture before some day they feel like they'll all be gone... and with each thing I lose that once belonged to Spencer, what once was continues to feel like a far away dream.

I have never seen love between a dog and his owner like I saw between Spencer and Nacho. Spencer rescued him one day at the shelter. He sent me a picture of a very scruffy looking dog that, honestly, kind of looked like a rat! I just laughed and told Spence he was crazy, especially after he chose to name him Nacho... but somehow the name Nacho just fit him.

Nacho claimed both Spencer and his mom, Pam, and there wasn't anyone who dared come between them! Because Spence was frequently in the hospital they were separated a lot. For awhile we got "special" privileges for Nacho to not only visit him, but to spend the night. In fact I'm about convinced that we were the reason they put stricter pet policies in place on his ward :) But honestly, I have no regrets. Spencer lit up so bright when I brought Nacho to visit. He became a different person and his outlook changed completely when Nacho showed up.

I easily became the "bad guy" with Cho. Spence spoiled him crazy! I was the one who made him go out into the rain to potty. I was the one who spanked him when he went inside of the house. I was the one he associated with Spencer leaving. He didn't like me all that much. But when Spencer was gone he sucked up to me, which was a nice relief.

Nacho loved lounging in the sun outside. But his favorite place to lay was in Spencer's lap, even better if he had a blanket to burrow under!! He tolerated a lot of things Spencer did to him, like dress him up in his shirts and making him dance to be just a couple things!

When Spencer got admitted into the hospital the final time I think there was a part of Nacho that knew his human wasn't coming home. I spent most of my days at the hospital and had our landlord and friend Sally care for him most days I was gone. He was left with Spencer's mom and brothers a lot as well. Because of strict ICU policies Nacho wasn't able to visit for the first couple of months. It wasn't until we got to go to the ICU step down unit and that Spencer was put on palliative care that they bent the rules for us.

I was able to bring Nacho to the hospital to see Spencer for the first time in nearly three months and I promise you there were tears all around. To see such a special bond be reunited was incredible and so, so heart wrenching at the same time, knowing it would be their very last reunion. Nacho got SO happy and could hardly contain himself. Once he got settled down he slept by Spencer the entire afternoon as Spencer petted him and slept as well.

I feel guilty for not caring for Nacho after Spencer died and I feel guilty I haven't done more for him, visited more, or just generally taking him in as my own. I'm so thankful my mom was kind enough to care for him. He really sucked up to her and she's about the only person he'll tolerate. I'm always afraid that he'll forget me each time I come home. But he doesn't! His little tail will wag so fast and he just can't wait for me to come and pet him. Of course he growls, but I know there is the familiarity there. Each time I'm home I made it a point to put him in my lab and cuddle with him, just like Spence would. I'll miss that.

Even though Cho and I didn't get a long the best... I'll miss that little growling mutt. I'll miss the memories he brings and the snuggles he gives when I'm home.

Thanks for being such a great companion to Spence, little dog. Give him some extra love for me when you get up there with him, okay?

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