Goodbye Mr. Chips

Chipper was my 12 1/2 year-old cocker spaniel. Yes, I mean was. His last day was November 15.

smiling dogDuring his half-year checkup on October 3, the vet found an enlarged spleen. It was almost three times its normal size. An enlarged spleen is a symptom of a problem, cancer, a bad infection, or a problem with his blood. One possibility was to remove his spleen. But the vet wanted to make sure that, if he had cancer in his spleen, it hadn’t spread. So we ran tests, more than we should have, but couldn’t find the cause. Two types of antibiotics also didn’t help or provided temporary improvement.

Chipper’s red cell counts were dropping and he became anemic. It became clear that surgery was not in his future and we chose to make him as comfortable as possible. A dog is anemic when his packed cell volume falls below 35%. Chipper’s was 24% two weeks before he died. The vet said that dogs feel very bad when it falls below 20%.

Dog at vet

Chipper at the vet

By the time we euthanized him, he seemed ready. He’d sit outside in the freezing cold, either too weak to move or wanting to die. He reminded me of native people that wander outside to die in the cold. He often seemed confused and bumped into things. Sometimes he’d get restless and wander around. He didn’t seem to be in pain, just tired. I had to carry him up and down stairs. He lost most of his interest in food until we put him on prednisone. But even that lasted only a month. When he refused to eat bacon, we knew it was time. He had lost at least six pounds and was only skin and bones, or as the vet said, “Skin and bones and a spleen.”

Chipper could have died as a two-month old puppy if not for my mom’s diligent care to save him from double pneumonia. She missed our last family reunion to take care of him. The pet store offered her a replacement puppy, and my mom knew that meant they would kill him.

Lucky Chipper.

“Cocker’s aren’t very bright, but Chipper is the stupidest cocker I’ve known,” my sister said. He always was mentally slow and that made us laugh.

Chipper lived with my mom until she passed away when he was eight. I remember him and Buffy (my other cocker) trembling on the floor of my backseat the first time I drove them to my house. He had never been outside of his yard, other than for trips to the vet. My mom didn’t walk him and she didn’t want anyone to show him that there was a world outside of his gated backyard. When my sister visited and took him for his first walk, he had his eyes opened wide.

When Chipper and Buffy became my dogs, I took them to obedience classes. They were the oldest participants. My husband, Mitch, worked with one dog while I worked the other and we’d switch halfway through class. But they both wanted to be with me, having known me since they were puppies and not knowing Mitch very well.

Chipper almost failed to pass his Canine Good Citizen test when he decided he’d rather go see Buffy than come to me. But he got a second chance and passed.

Two cocker spaniels

Chipper & Buffy’s last photo together

Chipper’s life changed quite a bit at my house. He got to go camping and even canoeing and hiking in the woods. He even attended one day at the 2015 BlogPaws conference.

His routine involved going for walks three times a day, and he got to meet (and bark at) many dogs. His favorite walk was to McDonalds where I would sometimes buy him an ice cream cone.

Most of all, Chipper was a foodie and this bonded him to my husband Mitch, who is the cook. Chipper loved chunks we always said, while Buffy liked bits and broth. Chipper knew that Mitch would toss him treats during dinner, or while he was cooking. Pot licking time after dinner was Chipper’s favorite time of day. Bacon was his favorite food.

Mitch gave Chipper a voice, always speaking in a deep, slow tone that matched Chipper’s slow mentality. His Chipper voice made me laugh, as he seemed to capture the dog’s thoughts.

Chipper had good health throughout his life,  having only several torn ACLs on each of his back legs. But he recovered without surgery, and only needed rest.

He feared thunderstorms and fireworks, and would wake me up while pacing our bedroom. Soliquin and Treatibles helped him a great deal. The last two years he slept through the fireworks grand finale.

I loved Chipper’s smile and he was very cute. He seemed to smile more when he lived with me and his favorite time was getting tidbits from dinner.

cocker spaniels wearing bandanas

Buffy & Chipper in their Cocker Spaniels Union Local 633 bandanas.

Mitch created the Cocker Spaniels Union, Local 633 (my address). Only Buffy and Chipper belonged, with Chipper as the shop steward. Chipper always let me know if I was in danger of violating the contract by reminding me when treats were due. I even bought bandanas for them with Union Steward marked on his. Now that he is gone, Buffy is missing out on treats since Chipper isn’t there to remind me.

Chipper and Buffy made quite a pair. Buffy is now alone for the first time in her life. So far she is okay, but I’m not sure it has sunk into her head that he is not coming back.

Goodbye Mr. Chips. You were a good, funny, little dog. We’ll miss you.

My vet sent me a nice card with The Last Battle Poem from an unknown author.

This is a wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please comment and visit the other blogs.

Blogpaws wordless Wednesday

34 thoughts on “Goodbye Mr. Chips

  1. Cathy Armato

    Sandy, I’m so sorry that Chipper has passed away. Thank you for giving us this glimpse into his life and who he was, he sounds like such a loving sweet dog. My heart breaks for Buffy too, she’ll need lots of extra TLC now that he’s gone. Thanks for sharing that beautiful poem, how sweet of your Vet to send that to you. You gave Chipper an incredible life, opening up his world to everything a dog should have.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Post author

      Thank you, Cathy, for your kind words. Buffy is doing well, although I have noticed that she is asking for more affection from me. I was mostly worried about the stress from Chipper’s loss causing glaucoma to flare up in her remaining eye. So far, so good!

  2. Beth

    I am so sorry for your loss. I think he must have been very happy to live with you after your mom passed away. I think it is great that you’ve started a new website to help other pet parents.

  3. Kamira Gayle

    So sorry about Mr. Chips. My condolences Sandy. I’ve been there and sending you a big virtual hug. Thank you for sharing such precious memories of Mr. Chips, your beloved companion. You and your family helped save him and gave him a great life and he great love in return. May those beautiful memories help give you some comfort during this difficult time.

  4. Bree

    Aw poor Chipper 🙁 I am so sorry that you had to go through that! It sounds like he lived a very exciting and fun life though and that’s how you have to remember him! Chipper was obviously very loved.

  5. Talent Hounds

    So very sorry for your loss. Sounds like Chipper had a great life and got to enjoy lots of treats. Kilo the Pug and I bond over food and he loves bacon and well anything really too. Pug hugs from us.

  6. Michelle

    So very sad to hear about Chipper, what a lovely dog he was and you gave him many happy years and showed him the outdoors life. I have never heard The Last Battle Poem, it brought a tear to my eye. Thinking of you cherishing your Mr Chips x

    1. Post author

      Buffy is doing well so far. The last two weeks of Chipper’s life, she had growled at him a lot, for seemingly no reason. Maybe she was distancing herself and she knew he wouldn’t be here long. Either that or she was just being a b___.

  7. Kitty Cat Chronicles

    Sandy, I am so very sorry for your loss. Losing a beloved fur baby is one of the hardest things in life. Chipper sounds like he led a wonderful life. Thank you for giving him so much opportunity for love and adventure. Sending hugs and prayers your way during this difficult time.

  8. Jill - CharityPaws

    I am so sorry for your loss! We are never ready, but it sounds like he was. What a great thing too that you took these babies in when your mom passed, thank you! Keeping you in my thoughts as you get through this difficult time.

  9. Joely Smith

    I am so very terribly sorry for your loss. Chipper sounds like he had a great life with you and I am so glad you took him on adventures and was able to provide him a life he did not have before. A pet’s passing is never easy and for us pet lovers as serious as the passing of a human family member. I know he will be deeply missed. I am so glad I got to know more about him. Much love!

  10. Kelly

    I am so very sorry to read of Chippers passing, but after reading your story of Chipper’s life, how it began and how he came to live with you and got to experience a new life and adventures, I can’t help that believe he had a wonderful life.


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