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Monday, April 23, 2012

[Earth Day Edition] Arbor Day Brings Back Doggy Memories

This Friday, April 27, the U.S. will celebrate Arbor Day, a day set a side to remind Americans how important it is to plant trees. Growing up hearing of stories of the 1930s Dust Storms, trees have a different connotation for our family. However, when it comes to Arbor Day it might come as a surprise that it also brings back memories of a dog companion that my husband and I knew once. Read on to find out why.

Front of Neo's card from our vet and Arbor Day Foundation.
Neo, a Shar Pei/Chow mix, was 13-years-old when he passed away in 2010. He was a misunderstood dog by most. Aggressive and territorial  to strangers but as sweet as a teddy bear to those closest to him. He would be my husband's second dog ever. At the time, Brian's cousin Brenda was a breeder and told us about a litter of puppies they had. I told Brian, I'd let him pick out the puppy. When we walked in I already had one picked out that looked like our first dog, Veruca. However, Brian got down on the floor and in seconds a black puppy picked him. That would be Neo. Brian got to pick him but I got to get to pick his name. As a sci fi and Keanu Reeves fan, I suggested "Neo," and Brian agreed.

Neo's life on this earth did not come without difficult times. At a young age he suffered a seizure. I always thought the heat brought it on because they tended to be in the summer months. Off and on he'd have seizures which was such a hardship to watch him endure. At 10-months we heard Neo's shrieking cry from the kitchen at our Benson home. Brian and I ran down the stairs to find Neo's mouth was stuck in the kennel's gate. He looked like a little baby gorilla through the gate. Brian was able to get him free from the gate. As we picked him up his little heart was beating so rapidly. Our hearts melted and he slept with us all night.

We often thought in another life Neo was a hockey player. We witnessed this often at our 100-year-old house in Benson. His sister, Veruca, would be barking near the front door and Neo would come barreling down the stairs and slide across our hardwood floors and check Veruca into the wall. Later his love of hockey would come into play.

Christmas with Neo.
Neo would get to enjoy two years in our new house we built on the edge of town. Our fondest memory had to be the very first time Neo saw our neighbor's horses. We came up the hill and there they were, which stopped Neo right in his tracks. We could see him trying to process what he was looking at. Brian and I still think he was saying, "That is the biggest dog I've ever seen."

Unfortunately about a year later, Neo had a tumor on his neck that ruptured. We took him to an emergency animal clinic where they did surgery. I made the decision after his first surgery that we'd sleep in the kitchen; since, he could not walk up the stairs. We had purchased a futon cushion months earlier, which Neo and his sister Pepper would sleep on. We all slept there night after night in a dog pile. I know it was the love and modern medicine that allowed him to live for a few months. His brother Moose had the same ailment. Sadly, Neo would be taken months earlier.

We found a wonderful veterinarian and animal hospital near our house. Because of the care they gave Neo we got to enjoy Christmas and several more months together. Dr. Paul Dritley treated Neo. I still remember when Dr. Dritley gave us the terminal diagnosis the tears in his eyes. According to their website, "The philosophy at the Elkhorn Animal Hospital has always been to treat each pet (and pet owner) like one of the family." Brian and I can attest to this fact. After Neo's second surgery we knew he was in good hands. We got to visit him at the hospital until he was cleared by Dr. Dritley. Neo came out, we got to pet him and he gave us kisses then the visit was over. He turned away and walked back to the kennel without even looking back. I knew he was enjoying his adventure there.

The saddest thing about Neo's last days was that he could no longer go on long walks. He started to retain water on his paw which would split open -- so it was painful for him to walk. The last night he was on earth was a special one. We watched UNO Ice Hockey on television together, which we had done time and time again. Afterwards, Brian carried him upstairs to bed and he passed away during the night. His passing was the most difficult for Pepper. To this date, she still moans which started right after his passing.

The Elkhorn Animal Hospital staff are the kindest people. Months after Neo's passing a card would speak for their actions. The Elkhorn Animal Hospital planted a tree in the memory of Neo. Inside the card it read: "The Arbor Day Foundation has received a donation in honor of Neo from Elkhorn Animal Hospital. In tribute, a tree will be planted and registered in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This tree will be a living monument to your friend. May it comfort you during this time of sorrow." So, every Arbor Day we reflect on the wonderful holiday and the life and times our family got to enjoy with our dog companion. Neo, still lives on through the countless pictures of him, too. To view a couple pictures of Neo, visit population-we™  Pinterest Dog Companion Board.

In celebration of the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day population-we™ staffers will celebrate our love for planet earth with green posts the entire month of April! Thanks for reading our fourth Earth Day post. 
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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1 comment:

  1. From one hockey fan to another. ;) We miss you, Mr. Neo! I hope you are having many pain-free doggy adventures!

    What a beautiful tribute! I'm sure that Neo would give it several paws up!