Yesterday my beloved Rommel passed on from this life. He is now my angel in
Rommel came into my life in a very special way. Dale had always had dogs,
but just before we started seeing each other,his two Labs had passed on.
I kept pleading with him for us to get a dog, a German Shepherd because I grew up
with them and they were my favorite breed, but it was always a resounding "NO".
Then, on Christmas Eve 1996, Dale came home and insisted that I open a present.Pushing aside
the tissue paper, I found myself looking at a doggie bowl, a toy steak, and another little puppy toy.
"We're getting a dog, we're getting a dog!", I cried. "No," said Dale, "you're getting a dog
and he is waiting for you right now in the garage." I ran out there and in the bed of the truck
was the biggest German Shepherd puppy I had ever seen. I picked him up and immediately said to him,
"Oh! You are such a chunker!" Our love for each other was instantaneous.
I named him right then and there: Rommel.
Rommel was the epitome of the German Shepherd Dog: serene, intelligent,beautiful, protective, loyal...
and he was all mine. He loved his Daddy, but he was devoted to me. He lived for me, and I for him,
and that is why it was so difficult to say goodbye to him yesterday. I have no material
possession that compares to my love for my Rommel. He was the greatest gift I have ever received,
and there was rarely a day that I didn't thank Dale for giving me my beloved dog.
As long as my Rommel was with me, I never felt unsafe. No one in their right mind would attempt to
break into my home or lay a hand on me. Even when we had visitors, Rommel would keep a watchful eye on them.
He only trusted children completely, and he was wonderful with them. My friend Phyllis' granddaughter Katie,
Dakota Telson, the Hauser girls, the Reinermann boys, the Romero children, my sister-in-law's nieces...
He would stand by them like a sentry and would actually shepherd them into a group in the backyard. If a child started
crying, he would nudge them with his nose to make sure they were okay. He was amazing.
Dale would tease him by pretending to hit me. Rommel knew he was playing,but would retaliate by going directly
for Dale's groin area. If Dale hugged me, Rommel would get up and come between us. It was very funny. Even his
beloved Grandma was not exempt from this. Rommel didn't want anyone touching me.
Rommel had been diagnosed at 2 years of age with hip dysplasia. At that time, I considered hip replacement surgery
at the University of California at Davis, which is reknowned for their vetrinerary school, but that would
have been very radical and Rommel's recovery period long and hard. Instead, I trusted that God would take care of my boy
and I gave him only the best of food, supplements to ease the effects of arthritis, and lots of love.
All of my dogs have always been inside dogs, so Rommel never had to contend with the elements. But the older he got,
the stiffer he became, and it was getting harder and harder for him to get by without medicine. Rimydal and Prevosac
helped him during the cold winter months and then finally over the last few years. One weekend in the summer of 2006,
Rommel fell three times and I was certain that my boy's time was coming. That July I got a puppy,Kaiser, a gift from my mother,
with the hope that the young one would learn from the old one, develop his mannerisms and good traits.
While Kaiser learned from Rommel, he indeed gave Rommel a new lease on life, and I was able to have my old boy
for almost two more years. I thought that he would make it to his 12th birthday,
which is September 25th, but that was not to be.
This week Rommel was beginning to show signs of real pain, and the Prevosac
was not helping him anymore. He didn't want to eat breakfast, he didn't
want his peanut butter treats. He ate dinner, but did not want to get up.
It was difficult for him to go out to go to the bathroom. I had been
bringing him out in the front, so he would just have to hop the two steps of
the porch, but that was painful for him. His legs were trembling. He
struggled to eliminate. On Holy Thursday night, Rommel didn't want to lay
down; he sat up almost the entire night. On Good Friday, I brought him to
his regular vet at Richland Creek, a wonderful group of people. I knew my
dog was suffering, and I thought I was going to have to let him go that
morning; however, Dr. Fiacco suggested that we try Tramadol, a very strong
pain medication that has similar properties to an opiate. We came home and
took a nap from 2 to almost 5. I handfed him his dinner that night, and he
slept next to me on his bed rather than at the foot of the bed where he
normally slept. It was a restless night, but he did snore at times. I
thought he would be better, at least until Dale returned from California on
Easter Sunday night. But in the morning, he didn't want to get up; I had to
coax him to. He didn't want to go to the bathroom, he was dragging his
legs. He didn't want his breakfast, even though I again tried to handfeed
him. He just wanted to sit. I knew that I couldn't allow my beloved friend
to suffer anymore - he was just in so much pain.
I called Dale in California where it was 5:30 in the morning.
He hadn't slept all night and was crying when he answered the phone;
he too knew that we had to say goodbye to our dear, sweet boy.
Richland Creek is closed on Saturdays, so I called my friend Gerri's vet,
where I had taken Kaiser once on a Saturday. They, too, are wonderful and
compassionate people. They told me to come in before 11. I called Gerri
because I needed help picking up Rommel to put him in the SUV. He had lost
some weight, but was still 104 pounds and too heavy for me. I kept saying
that I needed to go by myself to do this, that this was something that
Rommel and I had to do by ourselves, but Gerri insisted that she wanted to
come with me: She loved Rommel very much and always took care of him and my
other babies whenever we go away. She knew it was going to be heartbreaking
for me and didn't want me to be alone. With Gerri driving the 4Runner, I
was able to sit with my Rommel and hold him. On the way, I called Dale and
put the phone up to Rommel's ear. He heard his Daddy's voice and whimpered
a little. He knew how much Dale loved him, too.
Because of Rommel's size, Dr. Roberts suggested that we bring him to the
scale. There he administered some medicine to relax him so that he would
lay down; you see, it was so hard for Rommel to even lay down. I laid down
next to my my boy on the floor and held his big head, and then Dr. Roberts
gave him the injection that would give him the peace he so well deserved.
And I kissed my Rommel's face and told him how much I loved him as his
breath grew fainter and fainter, until it was no more. And I waited long
after he was gone, caressing his soft fur, not yet wanting to let go. It
was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, yet I know I will again
for I cannot be without a dog at my side, to greet me when I come home, to
remind me to be humble, to teach me to be good, to love me unconditionally,
to remind me that God is there behind those soft eyes and all around me.
In the afternoon, as I was sitting gazing at the lake while Dulce, Kaiser
and Contessa were frolicking, I cried out for my Rommel. It had been a
little bit breezy all day long, but at that moment, a big strong gust blew
my hair around my face, and I felt as if he was there, saying one final
goodbye to me. I know he is with my father in Heaven and that the two of
them are watching over me, my angels.
God blessed me with my Rommel. I will miss him all the days of my life.