By Barbara Anne Kirshner
I begin with a heartfelt thank you to all who have joined Park and me on our life’s journey through the pages of TBR News Media. Readers with whom I had the privilege to meet have shared how they enjoyed our stories, how they sympathized and even empathized with our bond.
It pains me to tell you that this is our final chapter.
Park crossed the Rainbow Bridge on Oct. 26, at 16 years and almost 4 months. He valiantly fought for the past year and a half to stay with me even as his aged body was breaking. He fought against the paralysis that took over his hind legs last year keeping him down for four months.
But the resilient little man miraculously bounced back. At the point when I broached the subject of having a wheelchair made to fit Park, he started to push his hind legs up, to arch, then to straighten those legs and to my amazement, the day came when he walked on all fours again!
Life was beautiful with my Prince Charming Park by my side — until Aug. 28. Park put his head down and when he raised it up again, he was blind. This blindness was proceeded by two weeks of noticeable head tremors which I reported to the vet who felt that at his advanced age, anything could happen.
We went to an ophthalmic dog specialist at VMCLI who, after giving Park a thorough examination, diagnosed that his blindness was not due to cataracts, but probably to a tumor pushing against his eyes. An MRI would corroborate this diagnosis, but I was cautioned of the danger of putting a dog of his advanced age under anesthetic. They could not guarantee he would survive the procedure. There was a very real chance that he might die on the operating table or have a negative reaction shortly after. The doctors at VMCLI were caring and understanding. Their advice was to hold Park close for whatever time we have left, but to put him through procedures that might reveal a tumor and then to follow that up with radiation was really too much for my little senior man.
I followed their advice. We went home and I held Park tight, praying for more time.
BUT that was not to be. He started stroking out, falling into a coma. The first time it happened, I revived him with an eyedropper of water, prying it into his mouth through clenched teeth. As he revived, I tried giving him a spoonful of canned dog food, but he turned away from it which was alarming given the never satiated appetite of a dachshund. That’s when I thought of his favorite treat, McNulty’s vanilla ice cream. It worked like a charm!! He sniffed the plate, then licked it clean. That restored enough energy so he could sit up on his own.
I laughed thinking McNulty’s needs to advertise “Our ice cream is not only scrumptious but it saves lives too!!”
This wasn’t the last of the strokes though. A few weeks later, another took him down and he fell into a coma again. Once again, through his clenched teeth I pushed water into his mouth with the eyedropper. When he started to come around, once again, he needed several scoops of vanilla ice cream to revive, but this time he remained extremely weak, unable to hold himself up with his front legs, the legs that had remained strong even when his hind legs were paralyzed. This episode proved so debilitating that his frail body couldn’t go on.
Park crossed the Rainbow Bridge as I kissed his sweet forehead and held him, talking him from this world into the next.
I am empty without my sweet boy, my loyal companion, my protector, my travel buddy, my everything.
I try to take solace in Brandon McMillan’s quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I smile when I think of my boy which is every minute of every day — about our shared trips to Park’s Bench in Stony Brook Village, about all of our journeys, our fun, his antics done deliberately to make me smile and make me give him extra attention like his penchant to stand in the rain until sopping wet knowing full well that when he sauntered into the house I would be there to towel all that long, luxurious fur.
I smile to recall how Park, the Christmas Puppy, pranced into my life ignoring my concerns that three dogs were maybe three too many and I will feel blessed for the rest of my days that Park, the Angel Puppy, chose to share his life with me.
A resident of Miller Place, Barbara Anne Kirshner writes theater reviews for TBR News Media and is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee — The Different Dachshund.”