It’s hard to believe that my first post about our new puppy, Fetch, is probably my last. No sugarcoating it here, this past few weeks have sucked. Big time. Skip this one if you’re not in the mood, folks. I just wanted to make sure he was documented here, where all the things I love are documented.
I’d always joked about getting a dog and naming them Fetch. Something that I never thought Kel would let me get away with. But when we picked him up on June 18th, he was never going to be anything else. Welcome to the family, Fetchy boy. A male Border Collie, I’d read all the guides about how to work with them and train them, entertain them so they don’t destroy your house. Kel had been away working at Rainbow Beach, and I had filled the house to the brim with dog stuff while he was gone. I was ready to go.
Quickly, my life was turned upside down. Because I work at a studio here at the house, I was home all day with him. And soon, he occupied all my free time and then some. Puppy care and training; phew, I did not expect the commitment of time and energy that would be at all. I’ve never thrown a ball so much in all my life, and for a while there, as a kid, I played softball. Not to mention the number of times over the two short months we had him that I messaged clients to explain my total scatterbrain-ness.
That was it. I was hooked.
I was in love and wondered how I’d ever managed without my Stretchy Fetchy. Honestly, I didn’t know how lonely I was until he became part of our family. How long the days can be working alone here when Kel leaves for the worksite at daylight and returns home at dark. He became the reason (that wasn’t my work or just because) to get up and go in the morning—a chance to take care of someone. To, as my Mum and sister put it, fuss around after someone. Kel and I are pretty independent souls; neither of us does so well being fussed over. But, apparently fussing, now that I can get into.
My best friend almost overnight, we got into a routine fast. Up in the morning, I’d make a coffee, and we’d hang out in the backyard for a while. I’d go back to work, and he’d hang out with a chew of some description. Back and forwards in and out of the house all day long. We’d do these little training sessions a few times a day, and he was picking up things so fast. He was so smart I almost felt like he would answer me back one day.
Mostly, I couldn’t wait to watch him grow up. Which was something I thought about often. Would his ears stand up? Just how tall/heavy was he going to get? And also, how we’d take him to the beach and camping with us and let him go nuts digging in the sand. I joked that he better like the ocean more than he liked baths because he had no option. We are a beach family, full-stop. The things we’d do and the places we’d see. Adventures, you know how it goes. I started an Instagram to share the photos so my own feed could be mine again.
I guess all puppies do this, I don’t know, but he grew fast. And by the time he was 14 weeks, he’d gone from 5 kg to almost 10. We laughed at his clumsiness and upgraded his kennel as all signs pointed to him being a big guy. He didn’t just chase a ball or stick in the yard; he would hit this super sonic go-fast mode. Low to the ground, speeding from the back corner to me, yelling and screaming like a lunatic, cheering him on from the garden. It was perfect.
And then, one Saturday morning, he went from losing his footing sometimes (something we put down to him growing so fast) to being unable to pull himself up to his feet. A few calls later, it was decided that he should see a vet ASAP, and the first emergency vet trip was underway. He came home to us that night, improved but not ‘fixed’, and was on antibiotics. But then, he got worse. For the first day or two, I would call the Vet expressing my concern, asking if this was normal, and wanting to know more about what was happening with his lab results.
By the middle of the following week, when Kel got home, I knew we had to do more. He was more than just wobbly on his feet; he was again struggling to stand and generally miserable that he had all this energy and go in him and could not make his body cooperate. We were sent further south to a different emergency with a specialist centre next door. Cue even more blood tests, labs and pats from his adoring nurse fans.
So, we were facing more extensive and expensive testing. A few educated guesses were going around, but they needed more information. So, we shook a few trees and did the best we could. With an unconfirmed diagnosis of Meningitis, our poor little guy had a spinal tap to test the fluid in his spine. He was to spend overnight in the hospital, start receiving steroids, and we would review the result later.
That next day, I received a call that, WOW, he was responding to steroids, and all was looking so good he could be picked up. My sister, her son (and puppy) jumped in the car, and I called the family as we went; he was coming home. He was getting better; everything was looking good, and that horrible feeling I’d had that something terrible was about to happen was wrong. I was ecstatic to be wrong (for once).
The following day, Ashton was here, and they played and played in the mud and dirt. He was still a little wobbly on his feet at times, but we couldn’t believe how much better he looked. We thought then that the worst he would have to ‘recover’ from were the shaved patches all over him from tests, drips, and all that jazz. But, the next day, he started to look a little unstable again. He was tired and spent more time than usual curled up at my feet (more than usual, which was a lot). I wondered if he overdid it.
And it went on like this, up and down, good days and bad, until the Friday following the one he miraculously came home to us. The night before, we noticed he was struggling in the back legs. He would slip and slide around the timber floors, trying to get footing. With an appointment the following day, we decided to wait and see what the Vet said. Maybe the steroids needed to increase in dose or something? Perhaps it would just take time.
But that day, we sat across from the wonderful Sarah and learned that his getting worse again was bad. Without an MRI to confirm, there were two primary causes: they could put it down to a degenerative disorder (from which he wouldn’t recover, only get worse over time) or the more severe type of Meningitis, which needed a more extensive drug, a chemo level drug.
We wanted to weigh up our options, so we brought him home, with the realisation dawning that he might not make it out of this. I sobbed hard the entire car ride home, but I wasn’t ready to let him go just yet. We’d try the drug, I said to Kel, we have to. He was quickly convinced that man would have emptied our bank account to get to the bottom of this and save our boy.
And I’m glad now that we bought him home because Saturday was one of the best days he had had since this all started. Everything seemed to click, and part of me hoped that maybe, just maybe, the steroids (which he was still taking) had just taken longer than usual to work. Kel played tug, chased the ball and sat out the back watching the birds. I made sure to spend as much time with him as possible and took lots of photos and videos of him and me in the backyard. The one at the top of this post is from that day. Look at his little face! It’s still a shock to the system that he was gone less than 48 hours later.
But Sunday, he got worse, the worst we’ve seen him and by that night, we had returned him to the care of the Emergency Vet to await word on whether he would even be well enough for the treatment the following day. Short version? He was not. And by lunchtime, we were driving back down to the Sunshine Coast to say goodbye. We spent lots of time, just the three of us. And then, quickly and quietly, he was gone. He was only four months and there or four days old. And my heart broke into tiny pieces on the spot.
Now, I know plenty of people will question my total devastation. Question this post and how I make it sound like he was my firstborn child or something. I don’t have a comeback for any of that. But, if you’re here and you think this is dramatic or attention-seeking, this isn’t the place for you. So yes, I know he was a dog, and sadly, that we barely knew him. But somehow, the unfairness of that makes it worse.
But that, dear blog, is the sad, sad story of our boy Fetch.
Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.