This morning, Wednesday, March 25th at 9 a.m., Ollie Bean peacefully slipped away from his ailing body held in my arms and started his journey to a new and happy place far away from pain and illness. Ollie had just turned 5 years old. His life was far too short but that only made him all the more precious...a gift to enjoy briefly, but richly.
Ollie was from the beginning a very special boy. He came to me as an amazing gift from my coworkers to ease my grief over losing my beloved wire fox, Jonah. I remember seeing him for the first time...a very small, very fuzzy face peering out of a little pet carrier. He looked so tiny! His breeder handed him to me--a ball of wiggle and licks. It was love at first sight. And so began life with Ollie Bean...
CHILDHOOD: Ollie's childhood was rough (for me!). He was reckless and fearless, racing and running, jumping off bone-breaking heights. Every time I thought he'd killed himself, he'd be up and running again. And then there was chewing..and chewing and more chewing. But Ollie's stellar talent was climbing. If there were Dog Olympics for Climbing, he'd win it hands (or paws) down. There was no surface unconquered in house or yard. This climbing skill enhanced his other puppyhood obsession--stealing. I'd make regular "yard sweeps" to collect the underwear, socks, bras, pillows, mineral specimens, paper, purse items, pens, plants--you name it, he stole it. Nothing was safe.
Ollie had his quiet side--serious and thoughtful and steady--often intently studying a situation before making a judgement, such as whether that person who pulled up to the house in a red car was REEEEEEAAALLY his "mommie." Once he was sure, he was all wags. Nothing phased Ollie. He'd go nose to nose with a Rottweiler, never flinching, never turning away. It never occurred to him he was anything less than a Great Dane or wolfhound. Ollie stood rock-steady while dozens of little child-hands petted him stem to stern in the park. He was unflappable.
ADULTHOOD: Ollie was in regular trouble as all good fox terriers should be. For a while I feared he'd think "OLLIE NOOOOOO!!" was his name. He fell into the big trash can, tore open garbage bags, stole pizza and "buried" it in the dirty laundry, got stuck in the gate (trying to escape to freedom), and almost drowned in the rain barrell. He loved going with me into the woods, wading in creeks (timid of actually swimming), wallowing in leaves, poking under logs and, of course, climbing fallen trees. Most of all, more than anything, Ollie loved chasing the hose water. There was nothing--just nothing--that could compare. Shaking and drooling in excitement, he'd chase the water-jet all over the yard and could run 5-feet up the pecan tree to "catch" it. Life was good...life was zesty. Ollie Bean made me laugh every day. He was my constant companion whenever it was possible to have him with me. I loved my sweet boy.
THE SAD TIME: When Ollie was 3 years old, some of his behaviour changed. Not enough to be alarmed initially. Random odd things. But by 3 1/2 he began sleeping all the time and was unable to jump on low objects (my Olympian climber!). That was NOT my little Beanie Boo. And so began the long road with my stoic little trouper who made a liar out of me with every trip to see a vet. He didn't limp, he didn't have a fever, he didn't LOOK sick when away from the house. But I knew better. I saw him when the game-face was off--sleeping, shaking, muscles jerking.
His medical journey finally took him to the Virginia Referral and Critical Care hospital. There he went under the expert care of specialist Charlotte Davies, who understood that no one knew better than me when my dog wasn't "right." Ollie was diagnosed last April with polyarthritis most likely caused by Systemic lupus. Ollie's response to treatment was initially good but that fluctuated and medications were strengthened. But finally his symptoms were beating all the medications. Ollie was suffering...his toughness worn away by an illness that wouldn't stop.
It is a hard decision to make, letting something go that you love so much. But ultimately, I knew he was hurting and I knew it was hard for such a tough little fox terrier to SHOW he was suffering. His body was finally beating his spirit. It was time for him to go. And so today, I let him go after holding him 'til his last breath went out, peacefully...pain free. He is on his new journey and my heart is with him with every step. He's crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is probably romping with my beloved Jonah. Godspeed my little boy, my Ollie Bean.
I want to thank my coworkers who's tremendous gift made it possible for me to have such a good boy. I also want to thank my friends and coworkers who supported me during his long illness. Thank you to "the girls" at The Doghouse for putting up with his sometimes irregular visits and keeping him spiffy. Thank you to everyone who had a positive hand in Ollie's treatment.
And finally, a heart-felt thank you to Dr. Charlotte Davies who gave him his best chance at life, persistently cheerful and optimistic, kind and understanding...and to her assistant Jen and everyone at VRCC who had a hand in his care.
Most of all thank you to my little Beanie for all the joy packed into your five short years.