I’m going to get a little personal on the blog today and talk about something very near and dear to my heart, the day I had to say goodbye to my sweet pug Shamrock as he crossed over the rainbow bridge. It was one year ago today September 29, 2014 that my husband and I had to make the most difficult decision ever and do what was best for our dear sweet pug that was suffering. It was the first time I’ve ever gone through that experience and it was way worse than I ever thought it would be.
Before Shamrock aka Shammy came into our lives, my husband I were in a state of grieving. My husband’s stepfather had just passed away 2 months before. I was busy being a pillar of strength for my husband who sadly was dealing with losing a second father, and for my mother in law who had just lost the love of her life. I was also trying to cope with the passing of one of the most important people in my life all while planning an incredible celebration of life service for him. My father in law was an incredibly special man who over the 12 years of knowing him became a second father figure to me. It was a very difficult time for our family and we were in a state of constant sadness. So when my animal rescue lover of a mother in law sent me an email about a senior pug that was ten that needed a home I wasn’t really open to the idea. My husband and I already had 2 pugs, Pugsly, who we adopted at the age of 3 and Bailey who we got as a puppy. Our hands were full as it was so I didn’t think much of the email at the time. It wasn’t till my mother in law sent it again saying he still didn’t have a home that I decided to look closer at the email. I instantly fell in love with Shamrock’s sweet face and obviously his name. I’m as Irish as they come so to see a pug (my favorite breed) with the name Shamrock I knew it must be meant to be. But it had been about 2 weeks since I first read that email so I was nervous he had already found a home. I decided to take a chance and call the owner anyway, and was so delighted to discover he hadn’t been adopted yet. I quickly set up an appointment for my husband and I to go over to meet him.
I’ll never forget that day we went to meet Shamrock. I had full intentions of just going to meet him before deciding, but the moment I saw him I knew he was mine. Shamrock happily greeted us at the door. His owners were shocked that he was being so social because they said he usually kept to himself and slept most of the day. He was glued to me the whole time we sat there visiting with him and getting acquainted. He was even rubbing himself all over my legs and sitting on my feet. They were in awe of how he was acting with me. They were very sad to be parting with him too. A family divorce and elderly parents was part of their decision to give him up. I didn’t quite understand their choice to give him away after having him for so long, but at the same time was happy I was getting the chance to love this pug as my own. My heart instantly melted for this giant pug…….yes he was twice the size of my other two at home and very overweight. I also loved how his tongue hung out of the side of his mouth. We learned everything about him and ended up taking him home on the spot. I had no idea what I was getting myself into by taking in a third dog but I was so head over heels in love with him that I didn’t even care.
Shammy immediately fit right into our home; In fact he completed our home. I loved having him around. He was so gentle and sweet and oh so loveable. He made himself right at home. I was so impressed with how well he adjusted to living with us. It was like he had always been with us. He seemed so happy too. Over the next couple months we helped get him healthy. When he first came home he weighed a whopping 32lbs. for a pug that is crazy and so unhealthy for them. We got him down to a healthy 21-22 pounds. He also had chronic dry eye and needed drops twice a day and suffered from yeast infections on his skin and ears. My family also fell in love with him. He just had that effect on people. He pulled you right in. Between all of us, he was spoiled to the max, with constant love, hugs, treats and fancy beds. My mom even got him a dog Serta posturepedic mattress; it was nicer than my bed! But it was hard not to spoil him when he was so special.
It didn’t take long for Shammy to become my little shadow. He pretty much attached himself to me from the moment we brought him home. He followed me all over the house and wanted to always be with me and know where I was. After the first few weeks he started to get more comfortable and starting showing his personality. Anyone who has pugs knows they have great personalities and are naturally very humorous dogs. We quickly learned a lot about him. He liked to give his paw for treats, he could sing on command and he would steal my shoes while I was away from home and sleep with them. If I was gone for a while I would come home to find him nuzzled up with quite the shoe collection. He never ever chewed them, just cuddled with them and often used them as a pillow to rest his head on. It was the most precious thing. I can’t even tell you how many pictures I have of him laying with my shoes. Sometimes he even took boots and those pictures are so funny. We even caught him on video taking shoes a few times and it is a riot.
Over the next three years we had him my love grew deeper and deeper for him. He really came into my life when I needed him the most. He helped distract me from the grief of losing my father in law. He was such a light in my life and brought me so much joy. I used to always say if you were to cut my heart open, you’d find a little Shammy inside because that is how much I loved him. He was my heart. But sadly over those three years his health kept taking bad turns. Shammy was always dealing with something. He always seemed to have an issue going on that needed medical attention. He started to lose his hearing, his eyes kept getting worse and his skin never seemed to clear up and he developed this awful cough as a result of a collapsed trachea. He also started having repeated seizures and we discovered he had a wheat allergy and he needed special food. His vet visits were more frequent, his medications increased but he never changed. He stayed the same sweet, loveable guy he always was through it all. Every time I had to take him to the vet or specialist when he was sick or hold him while he had a seizure my heart dropped and I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach. I hated watching him get older. The last year was full of lots of ups and downs with his health. But the last few months were his worst. It wasn’t until we found out about his collapsed trachea that I knew the worst was coming. There wasn’t anything they could do for him being so old so we tried one last round of meds to see if that would help keep him comfortable and help his quality of life. But sadly that didn’t last long. Shammy started suffering from these terrible breathing attacks that would have him screaming out in a horrible way and gasping for air. We were becoming concerned he wasn’t getting oxygen during these attacks. The attacks got worse and his breathing became harder so we had to do what was best for him and end his suffering. I was an absolute wreck that whole last week of his life. I basically stayed by his side to be with him when we was scared. I would get up multiple times a night to go be with him during an attack when he would scream out. I would just sit with him and comfort him till he went back to sleep. That last week was tough too because he started to decline fast and stop eating. But still was as sweet and loveable as ever. He also stopped taking my shoes about 2 weeks before. That was another sign that he just wasn’t feeling like himself. I’ve never been in the position of having to decide to put my dog to sleep before and it was tearing me apart. I was worried I’d be making the decision too soon or worse prolonging it to keep him around selfishly because he meant so much to me. It was so difficult. My mother in law gave me the best advice though and told me when its time you will know and she was right.
For our last night with him, my husband and I camped out in our living room. I slept on an air mattress next to Shammy and my husband slept on the couch for emotional support. My last night with Shamrock was a rough one. We didn’t get any sleep, he was up constantly having breathing attacks, screaming out and he was so restless. It was then that I knew it was the right time and that we had made the right decision. It wasn’t fair for him to suffer like that. The next day was an extremely emotional day for me. But for Shammy he was having a relatively good day. I got him to eat a little and his spirits seemed better and he hadn’t had any breathing attacks. For me this made me feel guilty thinking it wasn’t time yet but deep down I knew it was.
As a photographer I get to photograph so many wonderful events and times in people’s lives. It’s an amazing honor to be asked to capture special moments in time for a newly engaged couple, a bride and groom, or a family welcoming a new baby. Over the years Shammy was with us I had taken so many pictures of him. As he got sicker I started taking more photos of him in hopes to capture every aspect about him to remember forever. It wasn’t till that day that I decided to document my last day with my sweet Shammy. I ended up doing a very special shoot with him to capture our special bond. I’m not sure how I stopped crying long enough to get through this shoot but I’m so glad that I did. These images mean the world to me and I have my favorite image from that day on a 16×20 canvas hanging in the main hallway of my house so I pass by it multiple times a day. I will cherish those images for the rest of my life.
Saying goodbye to Shammy was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. My heart was crushed that day and I’ve been heartbroken ever since. Even though it was so hard I don’t regret ever taking him in and making him apart of my family. I think it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I learned so much. I’ve never been one to preach about pet rescue or adoption before but after seeing what a positive experience it was first hand for me and Shammy I’m a believer. I’ve adopted two pugs but it wasn’t until having Shammy that I realized how important it is to give these dogs a second chance. Mostly because he was a senior pug, many people don’t want the older dogs but I have to tell you they have so much love to give. This past year has been tough for me. I miss Shammy more and more with each passing day. I just wish I could squeeze him one last time and kiss his wrinkly forehead. I miss his little pug noises, he made a lot of them. I miss him greeting me at the door when I come home and stealing my shoes. I miss my car rides with him as my co-pilot to my parent’s house as I always brought him with me when we had our Bachelor/Bachelorette TV nights.
I’m going to close with my post I made the day we said goodbye to Shamrock because I believe that sums it up best: Today we had to do the hardest thing ever and say goodbye to our sweet Shamrock “Shammy”. He was the sweetest, most lovable and loyal pug. He was pretty funny too with his goofy tongue and his singing. He also loved to steal my shoes to cuddle with while we were gone. We’ve only had him for a little over 3 years and I’m so thankful for everyday with him. He brought me so much happiness and he was always there to cheer me up when I was sad. I just wish I had him his whole life so I would have had more time with him. My heart is crushed. I’m going to miss him terribly. I loved him so much and I would always say that if you were to look inside my heart or cut it open you’d find a little Shammy inside. Because that’s what he was my heart. R.I.P my dear Shammy, goodnight my sweet boy.
Here are a few of my favorite images from our last day with Shamrock:
I would like to give a special shout out to Dr. Reilly and the incredible staff at Springville Animal Hospital in Springville New York. We switched over to Dr. Reilly in hopes for receiving better care and answers for Shammy’s many medical issues. Dr. Reilly saved Shammy’s life and allowed him to live a longer and happier life. He was the most amazing, caring, understanding and supportive vet. We have nothing but love for Dr. Reilly and his staff for all the compassion and support they showed us during this difficult time. I recommend everyone looking for a vet to give him a call. It’s so worth the trip out there because he is the best of the best and you will see why right when you meet him. A few weeks after saying goodbye to Shammy I received an amazing card from Dr. Reilly and the staff with such kind words and included in the card were Shammy’s paw prints. I just melted when I saw that and appreciated them doing that for me. I will cherish those little paw prints forever. Thank you so much Dr. Reilly, you were so good to my Shammy and I will be forever grateful.
In honor of Shamrock, I’d like to ask you all to please consider donating to your local pet rescue group or organization. Shammy would have gone to the Buffalo Pug & Small Breed Rescue, Inc. if we didn’t end up taking him in. They do great work. But please support your favorite rescue group. Believe me these little guys need all they love, support and help they can get. Thanks!
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your photography session with your pets. I’d love to plan a special session for you and capture the love for your furry family member. Please visit Crystal Carey Photography for more information. Thank you!