This has been a very emotionally draining day. It didn't start out on the best note. Our dog Simba has been having problems with her hind legs for the last seven months and has had to have injections and steroids to help her cope. It's been working until this last episode. We noticed she was having problems again last night and this morning she simply couldn't get up, even with help.
We'd had her at the vet's last week and we were told that she probably has Cushing's Disease, common to older dogs. Simba is 14 years old and when I read up on this disease, I'd have to agree that she has many of the symptoms. There's no cure for it and treatment can be complicated and expensive, so we'd decided if Simba didn't improve, that we would not keep her alive for our own selfish interests. We just didn't think we'd have to make that decision so soon.
Back in the summer of 1994, Romie finally gave in to Jenna's begging for a dog. Jenna had heard that one of her friends had puppies and "could we please go look at them?" We did, and came home with an adorable little black puppy that we were told was a mix of Black Lab, Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd and they-don't-know-who-the-father-was.
With The Lion King being a popular movie at the time, the girls wanted to name our new puppy Simba, even though in the movie Simba was a male, and our puppy was a female. So Simba it was, though over the years, she became known as Simbie, Simba Boo-Boo, and sometimes just Puppy.
If there ever was a dog with a more pleasant nature, I've never met it. Until recent years, Simba never even barked - unless the garbage cans were in view. I can't tell you how long it took us to figure that one out. For some reason, she really hated those garbage cans. In the last few months, she had started barking quite a bit because she had finally figured out that if she barked incessantly, we'd let her loose from her chain.
I didn't really mind her running around free, but it's against the law here, and she did roam over to the neighbors' places. As far as we know, our neighbors weren't bothered by her strolling through their yards and if she decided to "do her business" there, Romie went over with a shovel and picked it up.
What did irritate me though, was when she got into my gardens, and she did it quite often. She had one spot where she liked to lay in them, right up by the house, and Romie solved that one by putting a garbage can in front of it until she didn't try to lay there anymore. Fifty-five pounds of dog is more than most plants can take.
Most people know that we are both cat people, so Simba learned to live with cats from Day One. I remember when Max first came around, Simba gave him all kinds of grief. We never figured out what it was about Max specifically that caused Simba to torment him, but after a couple of years, they learned to co-exist. Maybe it was a swipe or two at the nose that put a stop to Simba chasing him.
Romie built Simba a doghouse early on, but she avoided it, even during snowstorms. She absolutely loved the snow and thought nothing of curling up for a nap during a raging snowstorm until she was so covered by snow that we couldn't see her. No nice warm doghouse for her! Then we bought her a plastic one and she avoided that one too, until one day she decided she would check it out. Something suited her and she used it all the time after that.
Like most animals, she hated thunderstorms. Though she'd grown quite deaf, she could detect an approaching storm way before we could. She'd get antsy and prance around, whimpering a bit, until we put her in the garage where she somehow felt safe, even though she could still hear the thunder.
In fourteen years, we accumulated a lot of memories with our Simba. Jenna was 11 years old when we got her; Kara was 14. Both girls are married now. I'm sure Simba missed them as much as we did when they moved away. And that was when Romie and Simba became such good friends. They have taken a walk nearly every night for the last several years and when Romie wasn't up to it or got too busy, Simba made her presence known to remind him they hadn't taken their walk yet.
Romie called me from work this morning to see how Simba was doing and I didn't have good news. Even with me helping her, she couldn't put any weight on either her hind or front legs. She wouldn't drink water when it was offered. She had no light in her cataract-filled eyes. We both knew that the time had come to do what was best for her.
We were both in the treatment room when Simba left this world. There were many tears shed, both there and after we got home. While Simba is romping happily on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, her earthly body is in our garden, along with past beloved pets. We'll put a memorial stone there.
We've received many condolences already and we appreciate them. We know many of you have been where we are right now. Our yard was eerily quiet this evening. In time, we'll get used to the silence, but right now we just remember the good times with Simba. She was a good dog.