The kind of days we had together were always the kind you hoped would last forever, that nothing would ever change and that we would all be together forever. When they were about to begin we did not know they were coming and when they were about to end we did not know they were ending. In between we had 13 and a half wonderful years together. Although the shock and pain are severe, in my mind sudden and without much warning is preferable to long and slow, lingering and withering as time slips away. In the end, she left us the way we all would have chosen if it must be, hiking and living life to the fullest right until the end.
We had known in our hearts that she was older and would eventually succumb to the only thing that could ever slow her down, the slow erosion of time. Time, which grinds even the mighty mountains down was the only thing she ever lost to in a fight, and she fought it right up until the end. After a clean bill of health in December of 2012, we had taken her for a full check up in April which included an ultra-sound after a slight heart murmur was detected. She was put on antibiotics for a UTI, and on heart medicine for the murmur. The vet played down the heart murmur stressing it was minor, and assured us it was normal and common in older and smaller dogs, and that her arthritis was a bigger issue to her health at this point.
After a round of the antibiotics she was more herself, but still not all that eager about walking/hiking. We probably assumed too much that she was adjusting to the medicine and would be fine. After getting her out on some decent walks, we thought she might be more willing if we took her into the mountains she loved. Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful, another day full of promise. Her brother Blue was with us for a visit and we all piled into the car for a ride to the Belknaps where we could take as big or as small a hike as Emma wanted. The plan was to go from Piper up to Belknap and see how things were going. On Piper we met a few people with several dogs. Emma and even Blue were cordial even when they were sharing some food.
The sun was beating on us on Piper and there was little shade for the dogs so we soon headed off to Belknap. Emma seemed fine, and on Belknap where there were just the 4 of us she and Blue had some more food, she seemed fine and raring to go. As we headed north across the ridge towards Gunstock we stopped in a muddy creek down in the col just before you begin to climb again. Emma took a good cooling off and again seemed fine. On the way up out of the col she began to tire and at the picnic tables below the summit of Gunstock we took the unmarked white trail back down towards our car, skipping the summit of Gunstock for Emma's sake.
Back in the car she was unable to settle, it was really the first indication that something was wrong. The drive home she remained unsettled and we hoped that she could get comfortable once we got home. Back at home we became alarmed when she again could not settle at all. The emergency vet recognized that she was in congestive heart failure and did what he could to remove the fluid that was flooding her lungs, but we were too late. She had really given us no indication that she was in that much distress except that she couldn't settle. Brave little dog even walked into the vets on her own, just as she had faced down the White Mountains again and again.
There isn't much more to say other than we are heartbroken. On the one hand joyous that we shared so many wonderful times together, but on the other hand distraught that they had to end so soon. It will be hard to return to anyplace that we have been to with her, but eventually we will, we must, to honor her memory. Thanks to all of you who have followed us over the years, we have all felt the love that you have extended. Know it has been much appreciated. Hug your dog/furkids and children, our time on earth with them is much too short...