Home Forums Miscellany Community Supai

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
  • Author
  • #506559

      Good morning.

      Many of you have been with us the last few days as I started to sell some pieces to raise money for a surgery for our dog, Supai. Last night we had to put him down. As part of my grieving process, I wanted to write out his story and share some of my memories, and this forum is a great place to do that because everyone is so supportive and kind.

      We adopted Supai 6 years ago. He was a rescue dog that the local rescue group found being sold in a grocery store parking lot along with his siblings. A black lab/Australian shepherd mix, he was all black with a white chin, white chest and white front paws.

      He was super smart. Hubby and I used to joke that he knew English, and I’m convinced his vocabulary went beyond sit, stay, and outside. He would ask to go outside by sitting by my chair and putting his paw on my knee. He wasn’t great at finding his toys (he’d sometimes run past them a few times before realizing they were there!) but he recognized words for his Kong and his bone and a few other things. He loved playing “tuggies” with the hubby, and when he was young he figured out he could get a much better grip on his Kong if he stuck his whole lower jaw inside that big hole. So he’d bring it to my husband, nudge him to show he wanted to play, and then pull it back, brace it on the floor, get his jaw in there and get his grip all set, and then nudge him again as if to say, “Okay, I’m ready now, bring on the tuggies!”

      My husband works at home, and Supai was his constant at home companion, but he would always run to greet me when I came home from my teaching job. When I left in the morning he would hop up on the couch and watch me leave through the window. He would wait until he was /sure/ I was gone and then he’d jump off the couch and bound for the bedroom, hopping up on our bed (where he wasn’t allowed). He knew Mommy would make him get down if I caught him, but Daddy didn’t care, so once Mommy was gone the bed was all his!

      When we first got him we lived in a very small one bedroom cottage, and he didn’t have many places where he could stretch out his long, lanky legs. Last year we bought our first home and I’ll never forget him walking in, sniffing around, and then flopping down in the middle of our living room and streeeeetching out with a happy sigh. He had /space/.

      It was so hard to watch him decline the past month, but I am confident we did everything we could. Looking back on the decisions we made, I know we made all the right ones. He started throwing up when I left for a long term pet/house sitting job. It wasn’t uncommon when I’d leave to stay at another person’s house for him to not eat for a day or two, and stress a bit that I was gone. A few days after I left he ate all his food, and then he started throwing up. At first we treated it like a regular tummy upset – giving him bland foods in small quantities, watching to make sure he hadn’t eaten anything out of the trash (though he never ate anything he shouldn’t have). I even took home a fresh bag of food just in case the original bag was tainted with something.

      When he kept throwing up, we took him to the vet and ran a whole battery of tests. Full X-rays and blood work. Everything came back normal, except for a fever and the vomiting. We put him on antibiotics because all we had to go on was the fever, and the vet thought there might be an infection. He also had fluids and an anti-nausea shot.

      He seemed to improve, and we started to think he was coming out of it. But two days after his first round of antibiotics ended, he started vomiting again. We went back to the vet for more fluids, another anti-nausea shot, and another (longer) round of antibiotics. But those didn’t help. In the last week he got weaker and weaker, and then he stopped eating.

      On Wednesday night he was up all night, and throwing up every hour, on the hour. It was like clockwork. So at 6 am I drove him to our vet and waited until they opened, and then sat in their waiting room and cried until the vet got there. I have to say our vet’s office has been so kind. The vet wanted to do an ultrasound and keep him for the day for more fluids and observations. My co-workers were kind enough to cover my first hour class (I teach middle school) so I didn’t have to rush back to school. I left Supai at the vet and went to work. (Oh yeah, it’s the first week of school too. Timing…)

      That afternoon I got a phone call that his spleen was completely covered in nodules, which were likely cancerous. About a year ago he had a mast cell tumor on his side that we had removed. It sprang up and grew in about a week, so we got him in for surgery as quickly as we could. It was stage 2, and had clean margins so we hoped that would be the end of his cancer. Apparently not.

      We considered putting him down that day, with a prognosis like that, but the vet suggested we try another medication (whose name escapes me now) which could help. It wouldn’t cure him, but it could give him an appetite, help him not vomit, and help him rest easier. There was also the possibility of surgery and removing his spleen, because she said all his other organs looked fine. However, her ultrasound could only pick up things 1/4 of a centimeter and larger, so she was very clear with us that if we did go for surgery, they could open him up and see smaller nodules everywhere else. Still, we wanted to keep our options open and give him every chance.

      We took him home with the new meds, hoping that even if we didn’t do the surgery, the meds would ease his discomfort and we could have a little while longer with him. All we wanted through this was to give him every chance, and to do what was best for him. So I started my sale to raise money for the surgery, so money wouldn’t have to factor into our decision at all.

      Well, the pills didn’t do much. He still wasn’t eating, though he was drinking and he wasn’t vomiting any more, so he was comfortable. But last night that changed. He couldn’t climb onto the bed but he wanted to be up with us, so I helped him up. And he laid there and whined, shifting in discomfort, trying to escape whatever was going on inside of him. Hubby and I tried a lot of different things to make him comfortable, trying to decide what to do. It was when he started vomiting blood that we knew it was his time.

      We put him in the car and cracked the windows, and he stuck his muzzle out like he always did, getting all the scents as we drove to the emergency vet. There he laid down and wouldn’t get up again, stretched out on the cool tile, and we knew it was time. They were so kind to us, the vet tech stayed with us for a long time, talking about options and making sure we were okay with our decision. And also not making us feel judged for letting him go. The surgery would have been too hard on his body, plus the recovery time, the chemo…that’s no quality of life. So we decided to let him go.

      I held his head in my lap (when he was a puppy he would curl up in my lap and sleep, we called it ‘Mommy Lap’) and stroked him and talked to him. Gave him all the kisses I would give him during our routines whenever I would leave the house, told him what a good boy he was. When they gave him the shot to put him to sleep he took one deep breath and let it out, and he relaxed. His eyes closed, and he slept. He hadn’t slept in days, every time I would check on him he’d be staring off into space, lost to his own discomforts. So it was so wonderful to see him relax and at peace.

      We left him then, because I didn’t want to be there when he actually died. I kissed him again, and said goodbye, and we came home to an empty house. There are bowls of food and water everywhere (so he wouldn’t have to go far when he wanted something to drink, or if he wanted to eat), vomit stains all over the carpet, fur in the corners (he shed a lot – black dog and white carpet), bags of food in the garage, his leash on the table. The paw print in clay they made for us last night is sitting on our pellet stove. His bottles of pills are on top of the fridge. We have enough peanut butter to last us a year and I’m not sure where his Kong is. And I can’t ask him to go find it for me.

      Today I’ll have to go into the back yard to tend the garden and weed, and maybe I’ll clean up his poop and pick up his run, unclipping it from the clothes rack. And his back yard neighbor friend dog Josie will bark at me, and I’ll have to tell her that Supai is gone. And when I come home he won’t come to greet me, and I won’t get to kiss him between the eyes each morning and tell him that I love him, and to be safe, and to be good for Daddy. He won’t watch me leave in the morning and then jump up on the bed. He won’t ask me to go outside, and I won’t get to see him head straight for the bedroom when I turn my computer off. (He learned that when the computer goes off, it’s time to sleep.) I won’t have him laying by my feet while I work, or barking to let us know someone is at the door, or hide when the thunder gets too loud.

      But I also won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to him vomiting, knowing that he’s sick and I can’t fix him. I won’t have to worry that he’s not eating, that he’s in discomfort or pain. I won’t have to worry about him fading away, or being confused, or hurting and not knowing what’s happening to him. He’s at peace now. We made the right decision and even though it hurts, and even though the house feels so empty, and even though when I drop food on the floor now /I/ am going to have to pick it up, I know we did the right thing.

      Love you, puppy dog. I’m glad your pain is over. You were only six, but we had six amazing years with you. We’ll miss you so much. Say hi to Amber and Bandit and Woozle up there, okay? I’ll save some peanut butter for you.

      *kiss on the forehead*
      I love you, be safe, be good.

      Bringing the puppy home.

      Sleeping on his stuffed lion.

      During a hike.

      “You mean I’m not allowed on the bed?”

      My favorite picture of Supai and my hubby, after a game of tuggies. There’s even his Kong in the background.

      “Let’s go outside, Mom!”

      Lisa D

        There are so many people in the world that will never know the pure love of an animal. You were blessed.


          I am so, so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you guys gave him a fabulous life, though, and have so many good memories to cherish.

          It’s never easy, but it sounds like you absolutely did the best by him that you could have.


            Our ‘puppies’ are our ‘children’ to those of us who don’t have the Human kind… I know how you feel and I’ve been there too.

            In time the pain does lessen, and the good memories last forever and a day. And you seem to have several to remember and hold onto.

            We are Sincerely Sorry for your loss…

            Black Peacock & Butternut Adult Poads
            Kickstarter 'Rainbow Tiger' Bantam Dragon

            *~*~*~* Ela_Hara: The DragonKeeper *~*~*~*
            *** Come visit me on deviantArt at http://ela-hara.deviantart.com


              So very sorry for your loss. Sure sounds like he was a lucky dog to be adopted by you and your family. Adorable photos!


                Oh, I am so sorry! But you did the right thing – cancer is so hard to deal with as humans, it’s just terrible for animals. We had to make the same decision a few years back and to this day, we’re glad we ended her suffering.

                I’m still all choked up about it (as I am now reading your story), but I wouldn’t change a thing.


                Read my books! Volume 1 and 2 of A Dragon Medley are available now.
                I host the feedback lists, which are maintained by drag0nfeathers.


                  Thanks for sharing Supai’s story and his pictures. What a beautiful dog! So sorry his time with you was cut so short but I think you made the right decision as hard as it was.


                    I also had been through the same thing with my dog Marcus. Supai knows you will always love him. You did do the right thing. He is at peace now. He knows you did everything to save him. I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your husband. )o;


                      sorry to hear your lost your furbaby but know that of course he loved you and was glad to be with you for every moment even the final ones before he nodded off…he lived a good life with you….you’re a good owner to let him go in peace rather than trying to prolong it all for a bit longer…

                      4 things I'm looking for:
                      1. Mother Meerkat
                      2. production color Sitting Young Oriental dragons to be made in more colors besides VF
                      3. Female Griffin – Siamese with White
                      4. September Raffle Prize 2022 AHD Male Griffin


                        So sorry for your loss but you did what was best and he had a great life with you. I lost one dog to liver issues after 8 years and one to old age after 12.5 years. I take comfort in knowing they had a great life. I just wish they lived longer.


                           photo pipavie.jpg

                          OMG Stephanie, I’m bawling like a baby here. Your story with Supai parallels mine with my Pip so much…

                          The personality, attentiveness and most especially the BRAINS that put some humans to shame you describe are all Aussie. Pip was the blue merle Aussie(grey spotted) dog in my thumbnail; her ‘little bro’ Doomer was the red one. She was scary smart; she knew what I was saying whether I said it in English or Spanish or pig Latin; I think she knew it before I thought it. I actually got her as a present for my mom, but she had her own ideas on that. As far as she was concerned, she was MY dog from the first, and I was HER person. She went everywhere with me; I would travel the highways late at night and even pull over to sleep- I never had to worry with her around. She would eat someone who looked at me crosswise. I didn’t do as many things with her as with Doomer; he was my awesome fun dog and we worked livestock, did agility, dabbled in conformation… but Pip was my heart dog. Shoot, she was my heart period. I will go to my grave guilty that I didn’t figure out a way to get her on my motorcycle before she died, she knew it was a ‘go’ thing and she LOVED to ride. She knew I rode it, and she would run over to it and ask. When I was so sick and almost died she never left my side and barely tolerated my family checking me; when I was hospitalized she freaked out and wouldn’t eat, she listened and listened for my truck and cried I was told. I’m sorry to say I’ve never loved anything or anyone like her. I couldn’t eat for 2 weeks when she died.

                          How Supai sickened- at age 6 Doomer developed a fast growing nodule on his neck at the age of 6 which turned out to be a mast cell tumor. We had it removed, and it never returned. He lived to the ripe old age of 16, stroking out- I took him to the vet and he was almost gone already, she was a good vet who liked him enough she’d said she wanted him if I ever couldn’t lol. She gave him the injection and I got to hold him until he was gone. Miss you Doomby-Boom; Pip was my heart but you were my buddy.

                          Just at Pip’s 10th birthday, she developed a cough. I took her to the vet (was using a different one at the time) and asked for a complete workup. Picked her up, and they said everything was clear, she was just fat. (true, but…) This was on Wednesday. Over the weekend, she became anemic looking,. with white gums. She seemed anxious and was glued to me more than usual. We planned to take her back to the vet on Monday, why was she so anemic suddenly? On Monday, I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride. She just whined and looked away. This dog LIVED to ride, normally I couldn’t even think about going somewhere without her being at the door. Well, I said LET’S GO! and she got up, walked towards the car with me, stumbled sideways when we reached it and dropped dead.

                          I got her to the vets, insane… they immediately took her body back, and let us know what it was that afternoon. She had cancer of the spleen (hemangiosarcoma), which had ruptured and caused her to bleed out.

                          The only warning was that slight nocturnal cough for a week. Guess it was putting pressure on her diaphragm.

                          Turns out they hadn’t imaged her body cavity when I had her to the vets before. Might not have changed anything if they had, but I’ll also always wonder if it had been caught earlier, if her spleen could have been removed…

                          This was in January 2000, maybe they couldn’t, but… it still hurts.

                          Turns out hemangiosarcoma is a fairly common, inherited cancer in Aussies. Maybe Supai’s mast cell tumor was unrelated to the splenic cancer, I don’t think you could have done anything more for him.

                          Sorry for the novel lol- this hit me like a Mack truck. So alike…


                            Thank you for your words and thoughts, everyone. Today has been a quiet day. I’ve been puttering around the house cleaning, tidying up and cooking food for the week. Keeping busy but letting myself stop to cry when I need to.

                            Pip, thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never heard of Aussies having spleen cancer, so it’s good to know. The vet said without biopsies we won’t know if it was his mast cell tumor spreading, or something else. It doesn’t really matter to me, honestly. Lots of hugs for your babies!

                            Whenever I start to miss him too much I remind myself that he’s at peace, and I’m happy about that. Still have no regrets about everything we did for him, or about letting him go. <3


                              Stephanie, my heart goes out to you and your husband for Supai’s passing. You’re absolutely right to not feel guilty about any decisions you made, it was all for the best and I hope that helps make things a little easier for you.

                              I sympathize; my first cat was put to sleep a little more than a year ago after her kidneys started to fail. She was my baby, my very best friend when I was a teenager, but she loved my mom more and so stayed at home when I went off to school. Now that she’s gone, I do sometimes slip and desperately wish things had been different somehow – I could have done something at some point that might have prevented her illness. The sad truth is that so many loved ones – animal and human – come to such an end. One of my kitty’s many gifts to me will be to help me remember to appreciate every day and all of my loved ones in the moment.

                              It took me a long time to get over Marmalade being put to sleep. Although I was away from home and was spared realizing her constant absence, I have all of my photos of her as part of the pictures that show as my screensaver. It hit me like a ton of bricks to see her recycled back to me at random when I least expected it, combined with all sorts of other places I’ll never return to, and people I’ll never see again. But as time went by those pictures made me smile. The memories all turn happy – even though some seem like they never will. Your care and love all the way up to the end was part of a lifetime of love for a very lucky pup. As smart as he was, I’m sure that’s why he was at peace in the end. And lucky you – nothing will ever take away the six years of happiness you shared.

                              All the best to you and your husband. Sorry for my own little novel here too, heh! Losing a pet – any loved one – to illness is an unfortunate common thread among many. We’re here to listen if you ever want to talk further.

                              Forever seeking: Blackwatch the raffle Old Warrior, Jennifer Miller's pieces, and GB Baby unis!


                                Oh Stephanie, I’m so very, very sorry. I remember when you brought him home to join your family and thinking how funny it was that you named him for a geological structure. I know you’ll both miss him terribly and I wish there were more I could do than just say “I’m sorry”. Many, many hugs and tears…




                                  I read everything I can’t stop crying… I’m so sorry. Fur babies really are like our family… like children. From how you described him he dounds like he was very wonderful and a beautiful family member. *hugs*

                                Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
                                • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.