"Where are Dillion's meds?"
I was seated at my desk in the office earlier today when my phone dinged. It was a Whatsapp message from W at the shelter. It was almost one in the afternoon and weekday feeding at the shelter was about to commence. Dillion, our ten year old German Shepherd had just gone to see the vet yesterday and had medication freshly dispensed.
"Aren't they in the fridge?"
Our medic WF buzzed back over the phone. The conversation continued for a few minutes as the two sorted out the details of the medication. This was followed by a break, presumably because W had started to get busy at the shelter. However, several moments later, he uploaded a photo of Dillion laying in his room unmoving.
"Dillion left us." W informed. "Midnight I guess. He is all stiff."
This was the way I found out that Dillion had passed away.
If you find Dillion's name or photo familiar, your instincts are right. Your mind isn't playing tricks on you. Dillion was a working dog who came to our shelter in around July 2012 following his retirement. He was eight years old then, so regal looking and graceful. What he had in size, he had in equal measure in gentleness. For such a large dog, he was one of the calmest, most mellow dogs I had ever seen.
Somewhere in August 2012, shortly after he arrived at the shelter, Dillion was adopted. We were delighted. We all knew how rare it was for a senior dog to find a home and we counted our blessings.
Dillion went on to live the next two years of his life with his new family. The two years weren't entirely easy ones. With age, came age-related ailments. Dillion's hindlegs were particularly weak. He began to tire easily and could no longer sustain long walks. He also developed a skin condition. This necessitated visits to the vet. For a family without ready transportation, this could be a hassle. But nevertheless, Dillion and his family got by.
This year however, it seemed like the family could no longer cope with our old boy. After two years and a little bit, they made the decision to return him to the shelter.
With a heavy heart, we received him at the shelter on 11 October. For the next two weeks, we became reacquainted with this gentle giant once more. Because of his steady calmness, many of our newer volunteers took an instant liking to him. We also discovered that Dillion had cultivated some habits at home. He refused to soil his kennel and waited for us to let him out to pee and poo.
As Dillion had been having diarrhea and his hindlegs appeared to have grown even weaker, we decided to send him to the vet for a check up. Surprisingly, his blood test results turned out fine. The vet determined that he was a generally healthy old dog except for his weak hindlegs and poor eyesight which were side effects of ageing. However, the vet noted that he had lost much weight since the last time he attended at the clinic.
This was Sunday.
The next day however, Dillion was found motionless in his kennel at the shelter. He appeared to have passed away in his sleep.
Which is how I come be sharing this piece of news with you.
I choose to post details of Dillion's passing on the blog because I am counting on the blog readers to be empathetic. At this point in time, I guess there's no longer a need for recrimination.
Tonight was spent giving Dillion a final farewell before he was to be cremated. He was surrounded by volunteers who got to know him and cared for him the past 16 days with us and in the months before he was adopted in 2012. Most importantly, his former adopter turned up for his farewell as well. Despite everything, we knew he was still the one person Dillion would have most wanted by his side. That's the way dogs are. They are forgiving and loyal to the end.
Now that he was here, we imagine Dillion would finally be able to spread his wings and fly. Don't look back darling. We wish you happiness.
03 January 2004 - 27 October 2014