Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A more proper tribute to Cade
(Graphic by Wendy Mihail for my first website.)
On Tuesday, my oldest friend and wisest teacher passed away. Cade - Rohan's Cascata Di Luce CGC aka HRH The Emperor Cade, High Lord of the Squeekies and Tug Toys. My constant companion, brides'dog' at our wedding, my self appointed hot waterbottle during illness. My too-clever, sweet, sensitive, opinionated, blanket-hogging, bunny/lurechasing, kitten-mothering, insane-for-clicker, social-butterfly.
(Maid.. er... DOG of Honor at my wedding...)
(Suitably atired of course!)
(My self-appointed hot water bottle during pregnancy)
He's been with me through highschool, college, car accident and vestibular/hearingloss, loosing DH's mum to cancer, moving to Australia, marriage, pregnancy, baby, loosing DH's grandfather, moving again etc. He was the dog you come across once in a lifetime if you're very lucky. Devoted, uncanniliy intelligent, beautiful, mischievious, with such an exquisite temperment the president of the IGCA had commented his litter had the best she'd seen in decades.
The irony is the dog who has meant the most to me was everything I was sure I didn't want. I wanted a small, blue, female and instead was chose by a red male the size of a whippet bitch who perched himself on my lap, haughtily gazing down in disdain at his heathenous siblings as they rocketed around, tumbling and wrestling. The day he arrived home, he calmly walked out of his crate and examined his new kingdom with aplomb that would have better suited royalty than a gangly pup comprised of nothing but legs and nose. In less than a second I was head-over-heels. He was magic, the most beautiful, clever dog to ever walk the face of the earth.
(First day home)
(Early on it became apparent he was the king of comfort. That long IG nose functions for burrowing.)
(On my 18th birthday)
"Cade" means an animal brought up by hand, treated with tenderness and favor. Throughout his life even people who professed not to like dogs or little dogs would fall to his charm and say, "but I'd like them if they were all like him", usually as he was comfortably ensonced in their laps. He never met a stranger - after flying to Australia, upon release from quarantine he rode the train through the city with an expression clearly saying he was pleased Melbourne had had turned out to greet him - it never occured to him they mightn't all come to see him.
(With Grandpa Lucien, age 97, ever the gentleman.)
Despite being canine and male, he had an unusual fondness for kittens and adopted several orphans. At one point he adopted a litter of day olds whose mum rejected them, sleeping curled around them, allowing them to 'nurse' and knead even if he had no milk, toileting them, hauling them back to the nest when they clambered out, fretting over them and letting them pounce all over him in play indulgently. His love of kittens didn't extend to pups, though ladies man that he was females of almost any age were indulged while only the quiet and respectful males were tollerated. Like a cat he was also fond of perching in a tree to survey his kingdom and could be found lounging across some lower branch bonelessly.
(With Isabella - busy at a molecular level...)
(With our cat Noir.)
Besides being a flirt he was a shameless ham and a master of pranks - part dog, part monkey, part bird. There was nothing he couldn't scale, levitate over or get into or out of were he inclined though mercifully most of the time he was content to humor me and ask instead of helping himself. He was a chow-hound and we'd always joked as long as he had a pulse he'd never turn down food. Sure enough, even barely able to lift his head he took some cottage cheese. He loved tomatos - one time his needle nose removed every bit of tomato from a sub-sandwhich; leaving the bread, meat, cheese and other veggies in-tact and only a corner of paper unwrapped. It wasn't until I bit into it I figure out what happened! He also loved apples but if you handed him a wedge with skin on he'd politely place it back in your palm and sit staring until you fetched a knife to remove the skin. Another time he snurched and ate 2 dozen muffins, papers and all which I'd left to cool on the counter over maybe 5 mins - leading to a spoof "FBI warrant" http://www.geocities.com/cabrissi/wanted.html I have a thousand more funny little stories and I'm sure I'll hear some rippers of what he's been up to from Bria (my old Collie) and Isabella (my other IG) when I meet him at the Bridge.
He was never bred but his legacy, besides my own memories, lies in all the dogs who have and will benefit by what I learned because of him and from him. He was my wisest teacher, though working with him was always based on your having earned his respect rather than any kind of obsequious deference to humans. He followed because he CHOSE to follow - not because you demanded it or thought being human automatically earned it but because your leadership was worth following and you were a person worth listening to. Like that professor who continually pushed you give only the best, with unflinching honesty he refused to accept anything less. He was one of the smartest dogs I've ever worked with. My Aussies are certainly no slouches but for sheer problem solving ability and determination Cade won hands-down - surprising many who consider sighthounds too independant, stuborn or stupid to train. He got his CGC easily, dabbled in lurecoursing before a tumble hurt his leg, agility before floaters were diagnosed in his eyes and freestyle up until now. The lessons he taught me in how to work with animals serve not only with my own dogs but most especially in working with rescues or dogs with fear or aggression or with animals to whom socializing with humans closely doesn't come automatically and trust is something based on experience.
In 2001 after getting his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificate
His loss was completely unexpected, having always been pretty healthy his whole life and not having any real warning signs. On Thursday evening and Friday, he'd been a bit sooky when he was made to come out of bed to go potty. We chalked it up to the cold, rainy weather which he disdained with a passion (he'd try to walk with all four feet off the ground at the same time) and feeling a bit itchy from what the vets had deemed a reaction to switching food from their normal EaglePack when the store was out of stock. We'd planned to visit the vets again Monday.
Saturday was quiet but ordinary. Sunday evening we heard a thump and my husband called to me that he was shaking hard. He was concious and responsive but simply couldn't control the tremoring or get his limbs to obey well. I gave him valium (we have for if there's a storm etc) on the supposition that if it was a seizure or similar episode it couldn't hurt but before it could affect him he began vomiting profusely. By the time we arrived at the vets it was obvious something very bad was going on and it's a credit to them he stablized enough to start running tests. Every possibility was eliminated until the diagnosis was down to needing an MRI etc. to show a brain tumor or a spinetap on the lesser chance of something like meningitis encephalitis if the former revealed nothing. In the meantime we gave him aggressive courses of antibiotics, IV's, anti-vomiting meds, stuff to stablize his heart etc. That evening he was stable enough to transfer to the emergency center in Hallam for round-the-clock monitoring/care. I had to fill out some papers while they restarted his IV's etc and as weak as he was when he heard me return he tried to wobbled to his feet and move toward me before collapsing. By the following morning, he'd deteriorated to non-responsive with more pronounced hyperexcited involuntary behaviours (paddling, head pressing) to the point we had to adminster IV valium to settle it. The returning strength from the supportive care allowed the neruological problem to manifest more fully and pointed to it being primary (brain tumor) rather than a secondary problem (in reaction to meningitis) that might abate with treatment.
By late afternoon, they were having to increase the amount of meds to the point they couldn't give more and he was crashing. I held him. I talked to him for a little while and for a moment I think he came to a bit. Not fully but his eyes went from vacant and unfocused to a flicker of recognition for a moment, as if his spirit were brushing against me as he left like he used to brush his head against my hand on a walk when he doubled back to me before continuing on his way. Then he sighed, relaxed and at 6:11 pm was gone.
He is buried at home in a sunny, sheltered part of the garden with a warm blanket. Even in death, I'm sure he'd find a way to express his displeasure were I to put him somewhere cold and wet - he was just that sort of dog.
Webberville, summer of '01
Fifth birthday, Charlotte, MI
I think about 8 years old here
Age 9, Hawthorn
(10th birthday, at our home near Gembrook)