Dad was going to send her back to the pound with a sizeable check when he couldn’t keep Butterscotch anymore. In his defense, he didn’t really know what happened to nine year old dogs who aren’t well in the pound in upstate New York. “That’s not going to happen,” I told him. “I will take her when the time comes.” He was happy with that, knowing what I do for a living and what kind of a home I could provide for her.
The time came in early March of 2011. Driving through the Adirondacks to a place just shy of the Canadian border that time of year can be dicey, but we were very fortunate. My dad was in the hospital and we all knew he would not be returning to his home, so getting Butterscotch was urgent. We’d met her before, but we fell in love with her very quickly on that trip. I also realized, within a half hour of getting to my dad’s home, that she had undiagnosed medical issues. I called my vet. “You know that appointment I made for Butterscotch in a couple weeks? I need to move that up.”
Butterscotch had Cushings Syndrome, was put on Trilostain, and turned out to be the poster dog for Trilostain. Our vet wished all dogs responded so positively and quickly to the meds. She was quite a bit overweight, because of the Cushings, and couldn’t even walk down the block without practically collapsing.
Over the next year we took 20% of her weight off, and she discovered her inner athlete. She took and loved a Rally Obedience class. One of her favorite things was to run in the fields, usually with Paris. She even loved walks for a while with a pack of Ridgebacks! At my dad’s house she had a modest fenced-in space, and now she loved nothing more than to RUN.
She and Paris were good buddies. Paris had hated another rescue dog we’d tried out for adoption, but he and Butterscotch were friends instantly. They competed on walks. Neither liked being behind the other. But they were often found sleeping next to each other, and there was rarely any serious animosity between them.
It would be hard to overstate how much Butterscotch loved belly rubs, even from total strangers. I brought her to events where we were promoting our pet sitting business and she would stop total strangers and roll over on her back, and look expectantly in their eyes waiting for a belly rub. We got her a tag for her collar that read: “Won’t you please rub my belly?” She may have spent more time on her back than any dog you’ve ever met. She would roll on her back even in the waiting or exam rooms at the vet’s office. Not a stressed out bone in her body.
She loved sleeping in the bedroom with us, and even on the bed before the arthritis made that difficult. She was a bit of a bed hog, just like Paris. But she loved nothing more than to curl up with us, tucked in tight against us.
In the last few months she started to decline, which isn’t all that surprising for a 16 year old dog. Her hearing starting to go first, and then her sight. But most difficult for us and for her too, I think, was the cognitive function. Over the last few months the slippage in her ability to know where she was, what was happening, and to feel at ease in the world got more noticeable by the week. She could no longer climb stairs, so she couldn’t sleep with us anymore, or hang out in the office with me, which was one of her great joys. Her chiropractor helped enormously with the arthritis for a few months, but eventually that won too, and walks became shorter and shorter. Her world shrank every week, until it was about the size of the bathroom throw rugs we put in the wood floors to help her stay upright. She slept probably 21 hours a day, and when she was awake she was usually pacing and barking anxiously and fearfully, and incessantly. When she stopped eating a couple days ago (and eating has always been one of her great joys) we knew it was time.
I hope that she is romping the fields with Paris somewhere, and visiting again with Dad, who she loved dearly (especially since he fed her the last of his ice cream dish every night!) She was one of the sweetest, gentlest dogs anyone could ask for, and we will miss her terribly.
She was also amazingly photogenic, and mostly tolerant of my pointing the camera at her, so I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures of her. She was a beautiful dog, inside and out.