Mookie has left the building.

It seemed like it happened overnight. One day we had a perfectly healthy dog, and the next day she was seriously ill. But it wasn't overnight. The vet told us that she must have been sick for a long time. "For her blood count numbers to be this low, she's been ill for some time," she told us. After ruling out the (easily fixed) hookworms, she told us that Mookie was most likely dealing with one of  two possible situations. One was that she might be suffering from an autoimmune disease, meaning that her body was attacking itself, and her bone marrow would not produce the blood that she needed.  The other possibility was cancerous tumors. Either way, the prognosis was bad. Bad was an understatement.

Just a day or two earlier we had noticed that she had lost her appetite. For about a year we had been making her special diet food - a mixture of chicken breast, rice, vegetables, whole eggs, and a little flax seed. We would mix it all together and then bake it like a meatloaf. Twice a day Mookie got about a cup-and-a-half, maybe two cups, and she loved it - ate it all up. We gave her a dog multivitamin once a day. She was on heart worm prevention. But then, all of a sudden, she didn't eat. Anything.

We panicked and took her to the vet that we had used for years. But the place and the vets had changed over the years. The business had grown by leaps and bounds and now instead of our friendly vet, there was a team of ten DVMs and a host of minions running around in a new, brightly lit "facility."  We eventually saw a vet who suggested several tests - blood work, X-rays, etc. Sure, okay, whatever it takes - my dog is sick - fix it. Pretty quickly the $170 bill for testing became a bill for $800 for an overnight stay, rehydration, more tests, and STILL no real answers. We had questions. Just no answers. We were urged toward getting a blood transfusion, but not given any real reasons how this was going to help. We decidedly quickly to take Mookie and her records to a vet that we could hopefully feel better about. Friends suggested their vets, and the one we went to - Perrin Beitel Veterinary Hospital - turned out to be a great one.

The staff and doctors at Perrin Beitel Veterinary Hospital are wonderful. Mookie's condition was still bad, but we felt so much better about the information we were being given and the way we were being treated. After going over all of Mookie's records and examining her themselves, they told us that she really did need a transfusion. But they don't do transfusions at Perrin Beitel. They directed us to the Emergency Pet Clinic at Broadway & 410. They would be able to do a transfusion there. We called the clinic and explained our situation to them. Soon the Emergency Pet Clinic and Perrin Beitel Veterinary Hospital were in communication with each other by phone and fax. When we took Mookie in, they were expecting her.

Again, new people to look over Mookie's records and examine her, and try to help her (and us). After a short while, the veterinarian on duty met with us in an examination room and talked with us about what was going on with our dog. The talk was serious. It was at this meeting with this doctor, the fourth vet we had seen in two or three days' time, that we were hit by the reality of how sick Mookie was. Up until this meeting we had complete faith that one of these doctors in one of these clinics was going to be able to fix our dog. We just knew that before long we'd be back home laughing at something our goofy Mookie had done.

But that's not the way it turned out. This caring and compassionate vet at the Emergency Pet Clinic told us that they could do the transfusion. But she also told us that, in light of Mookie's condition, we'd be bringing her back for subsequent transfusions, and that we might be able to keep her alive for maybe six months. We were left to think and talk and weigh our options. 

We did talk. We talked and talked and called the vet back to ask her more questions. And she answered them and talked with us. We talked some more. We cried some. We called the vet back again, asked a few more questions. We talked and cried some more. I think we had already started grieving at this point, and I remember Wayne saying, "I don't ever want another dog," which I took to mean, "I don't ever want to be in this kind of situation again and feel this kind heartbreak ever again. Ever."

Eventually we called the vet back over and told her that we thought we could do the humane thing and let Mookie go. The process was emotional for us. It was a struggle. I have to believe that, for Mookie, it was a relief and a release. We have wonderful memories of our days with Mookie, all the way back to the day she first came to us in March, 2008.  Our friend Matt Hales brought her into the deli in a little dog bed with a bow around her neck and pleaded her case. "My friend's dog had puppies and I'm trying to find homes for them. This little one needs a home." She was tiny. She was about six or eight weeks old. "She won't get much bigger." (She weighed ten pounds on an early visit to the vet. She averaged around 70 or 80 pounds in her adult years.) We held her and played with her for a little while. She looked up at us with her one blue eye and her one brown eye, and then she owned us.

At first, when she was so so little, we could keep her in our office upstairs at the deli. We would take her out back to the green area at the edge of Brackenridge Park to walk a little bit, and then put her back in her little bed in the office. When she got too big for that, she stayed home, in a crate at first, and we'd run home a couple of times during the work day to let her out and play with her a little. Eventually, she had the run of the house and the yard. We might show up at some off time and catch her out back sunning herself, or at her favorite perch at the front window, watching the world go by.  She was the most wonderful, most "chill" dog that we have ever encountered.

She's gone now, and we're sad. We are consoled though. By the kind things that so many friends and family members have said and written to us. By the knowledge that there are some really kind, really smart, really compassionate people out there helping animals. By knowing that we were able to make a decision that could end the pain and suffering for our dear Mookie.

P.S. Here's the story of the origin of Mookie's name:


  1. It was amazing of you to write this out. It is heartbreaking to read.

    I know this terrible brand of pain and I am so sorry. You two are so blessed that Mookie chose you; what a gift to have gotten to love and steward her. And in turn, she gave you all of the love back.

    One day (*one* day) maybe another dog that needs you will choose you as well. And that dog will give you all of the love too. Mookie knew how much love you both have to give.

    For now, take good care of each other and yourselves. Rest and heal.


  2. Michael & Wayne, I have cried more tears over Mookie in the last few days and I never got the opportunity to meet her. Every time we lose a dog or cat, we always say we won't have another, but you can't help it! Your hearts are breaking now, but they can be filled again with love for a very special dog just like Mookie. It may take some time and I know it's hard, but you both have too much love to give to 'not' help another orphaned puppy. Just look at all you did to try and help Mookie. You were willing to do whatever it took to get her well.

    Again, I'm so very sorry you lost Mookie and I'm sorry I didn't get down there to meet her. Pets fill such a special place in our lives. We love them and they love us unconditionally.

    Take care!

  3. michael and wayne,
    My heart is breaking for you. I have known this pain a number of times and each time I swear it's the last time I will ever go through it but then over time you're able to take a breath and that enormous weight in your chest lessens a little bit and you feel more gratitude and joy in the memories.
    Therese and I lost Sam and Spirit within a month of each other about 4 years go and said never again until I saw Cooper on a rescue site and that was 3 years ago. We never replace the lost ones, we just continue the joy they taught us to feel.
    You guys are in my thoughts. Love to you both, jan olsen


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