Today, our pack changed dramatically. Wilson left this world to cross over to the other side. Wilson was a wreck of a dog we picked up from a pathetic shelter northwest of us, close to the Tennessee border, about 14 months ago. While we were told he was “about two years old”, Doc advised us he was “older than dirt”. Wilson got his name because, at first look, he appeared to have every affliction and malady except Wilson's disease (a joke based upon the TV series, “House”, where every tough case has somebody suggesting Wilson's disease). The name stuck. Peroni became Wilson.

Wilson chose us for his forever home and became a “regular”. His health never got any better and we never posted him as adoptable. He became ours by either default or by his design. Either way, Wilson was ours, just as we were his. Over the past 14 months Wilson would “converse” with me frequently with his soulful eyes and intent feelings behind them. At the beginning, Wilson would thank us for helping, for rescuing him and providing a safe, loving home. As time progressed, and we tried various and numerous therapies, his communication became more and more pained. Our last “conversation” came about two weeks ago and said, “Can you make it stop? It hurts!” I didn't want to comprehend the message and rationalized his message with all sorts of excuses and reasons, said I misunderstood his meaning, but I finally had to accept what he told me. He was in pain.

I now truly understand the sincerity of a physician who explains to the family, “Despite our best efforts, we couldn't save him”, because I have to explain to others, despite our best efforts, we couldn't save Wilson. During the past year, everyone at ABTCR tried to help with disease related issues to find some reason for his continual decline. In the end, there was no other direction to turn, and Wilson kept declining. (Several separate opinions mutually concluded a brain tumor, which explains both physical and mental symptoms).

Doctor Howard Ashley had been Wilson's veterinarian since the first day of becoming a rescued coonhound and confided he was proud of us for keeping him alive as long as we did. Doc had given Wilson only six months to live after his initial examination and confirmed the howls of agony we heard were likely due to terrible headaches associated with a tumor. The decision to “help” Wilson was not done lightly. We cried. We argued. We watched him and had to agree, it would be best to help eliminate his pain although it meant losing him. So today we did things that gave him pleasure - hunt, eat, a bath and a car ride and took him to Doc one last time. We maintained pretty well knowing Wilson, like all dogs, would cue upon our emotions. We had a nice ride to town. Wilson took a tour around the yard surrounding Doc's office and marked four trees, two hedges and the building's corner. Then it was time to go in. Wilson slipped from this plane of existence at 3:15 this afternoon to be adopted by God. We love you, Wilson. You taught us a lot. You were a brave and resilient soul. You deserve your place in Heaven. I'll miss you, you tough old coonhound. God bless you.

Steve and Cheri Zaiger

12 September 2012