The Life of Albert, a Tribute…

August 30, 2022

We have two dogs, one is an 11 year old Brittney called Jake and the second is Albert, a 17 year old small black mixed breed rescue dog, and I do mean rescue… he passed away early Sunday the 21st of August, 2022 (more about that later).

Albert was given to us (spared by us) when he was 3 or 4 years old by our youngest daughter, Myranda.  Her boy friend at the time gave her the dog but they had a disagreement and the boy friend threatened to shoot the dog.  Myranda did not know what to do so against my wishes we took the dog and it became ours, or my wife’s dog to be more accurate.  At the time we had no dogs and I really did not want one but I was overruled.  He was a good dog, small head with small perky ears and little feet.  Sometimes I would call him “Black Dog” or “Beach Ball with a Little Head Dog,” but others would call him Albert. Not sure what breed he was but we are thinking black lab and some other small mutt; he weighed about 20 pounds.  Albert had a short quick bark but did not bark much.  During later in is life he went outside to go the bathroom and tripped hurting one of his back legs.  Took him to the vet and they said he would have to live with a limp… they did give him a maintenance medication of Vetprofen (Ibuprofen for dogs) which really helped him get along, might say it was life changing for him.  He also took a pill for his thyroid.

In 2020 we started to travel more in our RV and ended up selling our house in Bowling Green KY to travel full time.  In 2021 we hit the road as Full Timer RV’rs with the two dogs.  If you ever think about doing this know that dogs can be a lot of work on the road… you may need to take them to the vet and they may need surgery or other attention.  Jake had this happen when we were in Albuquerque NM; he developed an abscess.  We got lucky and found a pet emergency hospital where they did the surgery and he was fine after that.  They also can limit your sight-seeing activities as you can only keep them in the camper locked up for so long.  I have a wireless temperature sensor in the camper which notifies my phone if it gets too hot inside (air conditioner failure).

Albert could navigate the four steps up into the camper about 8 out of ten times, I would need to help him otherwise.  I would pick him up like a sack of flour and hoist him inside, he would just turn around and smile.  Sometimes I think he did this on purpose just so I would lift him in.  I had a routine when letting them out in the morning.  I would hook Albert up to a lead and give him some time to do his business while taking Jake for a walk so he could do his business.  I always have doggie bags in my pocket to pick up their waste.  When I got back with Jake I had to look and find where Albert went poop.  He would just stand there and look at me like “hurry up” I want fed.  We had an evening ritual I started with Albert.  I would get down on the floor and rub his ears and shoulders then just stop, he would promptly start barking at me until I started again.  If I stopped, he would bark again.  I would need to shake my hands and he knew that meant that the massage was over.  He lost his hearing several years back so we used visuals and hand clapping to get his attention and he knew what was going on because he caught on fast; dogs are so adaptive when needed.  He got so use to his nightly massage that he would come up to the recliners Rene’e and I were sitting in watching TV and just stand there peeking at me through gaps in the footrest with a smile on his face.   If I ignored him he would go do some turns and click his paws/nails on the floor, he would not give up.  He did the same thing when I brought them in from using the bathroom outside if I did not give the dogs a treat.  He was persistent as it could be an hour later and he still wanted his treat.  Shame on me for making him wait!  If I wanted to give him attention all I had to do was lower my hand and wiggle my fingers and he came running, not to miss a rub-down.  His vision was going as well.  I could put his treat on the floor in front of him and sometimes he could not find it so we had to give it to him in his mouth.  Even though he had hearing and eye-site problems with a bum leg he was a happy, vibrant, little black dog.  The vet always said he had good lungs and a good healthy heart.

We had to be careful in the camper as Albert would just lay down anywhere.  He might be on the floor in the main room or on the floor in the bedroom, so we just got use to turning on the lights and being careful where we walked.  When I got up in the morning I had to be very careful as he might be right where I stepped to get out of bed. 

He was mostly Renee’s dog… he had to know where she was at all times.  If he could not find her he would go through the camper sniffing… even under the bathroom door until he found her.  If Rene’e took a nap and closed the bedroom door he would whine until I let him in with her.  If we were sitting outside he would lay down under Renee’s chair.  Definitely a mommas boy; Rene’e is the one who rescued him after all.  Speaking of outside, if Albert could get tangled in anything with his leash rope he would.  There would be nothing around to get tangled in but he would mange six figure eights with a twist and only 6-inchs left to move… then he would just lay down waiting to get untangled so he could do it again. If I let him off the leash he would bolt and I would have to chase him down; even with a bum leg he could move fast… I’m Free! However, he did not know where he was going, haha.

About a year ago he had a drainage from the bottom of his right eye.  We did not know what it was so took him into the vet (while on the road).  They said he had some teeth that were infected and needed to be pulled.  They warned us that at his age (16-years old) that he may not come out of the anesthesia.  Well, he did and with flying colors, no issues, they pulled 11 teeth.  Now a year later and he had that same drainage.  So, we took him to the vet and they said his two top molars needed to be pulled.  This is a much more serious surgery and they again warned us that he may have trouble with the anesthesia.  We did not have much of a choice as he was hurting the way things were and it would only get worse.  So, we took him in and they pulled five teeth to include the molars (Wednesday).   When we picked him up they had given him a pain shot so he was groggy and could not walk on his own.  We took him to the camper at the KOA in Bowling Green KY where we were staying and for the next 1-1/2 days he threw up whatever he ate and when he took a drink, five minutes later he threw it up.  So, I took him back in to the vet (Friday) and they gave him an anti-nausea shot and a vitamin B12 shot.  The also made sure he was not dehydrated, and he wasn’t.  He still just laid around and would not eat but he did drink some and he was not throwing up.  On Saturday he started to become less active and he was still not eating anything and stopped drinking.  I think he was just getting weak from lack of food.  Saturday evening he got worse.  At first he had trouble walking then he could not hold his head up so we propped him up with a rolled up towel and made him as comfortable as we could.  Then late Saturday and early Sunday morning he started to make three small barks.  Not like he was barking at another dog but a “help me” bark and he would bark three times, then wait a little while and bark three times again.  I read somewhere that sometimes when a dog is dying they do this to communicate with their owners as they know the end is close.  I think he was scared to.  Then the barks spread out and went from three to two, now quieter; he was getting tired.  Then from two to one in a whisper.  When he could not muster another bark he fell asleep and passed away early Sunday morning.

We felt so bad that we could not do anything more for him.  The trauma of the surgery and the anesthesia were too much for the 17-year old puppy.  On Monday I took him to get cremated.  We will have a family gathering later to spread his ashes.

It’s weird not seeing him in his bed in the corner of the camper. I can’t believe he is gone but I know he is in a better place, probably wanting a massage and a treat. Jake does not seem to be affected and has not changed his routine of napping on the couch but we are making sure by giving him a good amount of attention. I took Albert’s collar and hung it on the wall in the corner of the camper where his bed was.

We cleaned his food bowl and put it away. Threw away his bed & his medicine, washed the rugs and mopped the floor. There are no little Black Dog barks wanting a massage anymore and there is no demanding a treat. No more picking up his poop or his shedded hair clumps. No more giving him his medicine with his food. No more pitter patter of his paws on the linoleum. There is no need to watch where we step even though I still look when I get out of bed thinking he is laying on the floor but he is not there.

We are down a family member, it hurts, and there is now a sad quiet in the camper, even a week later… he will be missed more than ever.  Thanks for being our dog Albert!

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