Ashley Rensselaer Bogue 2/9/1999 - 5/7/2009
Perhaps the most common thing that was ever said about Ashley was that she looked like a bear. It was pretty much a universal constant as people met her for the first time. The second most frequent comment was "She doesn't like people very much, does she." Both of those were true. What is also true is that she's had a profound impact on the family since she arrived.
When we got Ashley she was the runt of the litter. Born on a farm outside Rensselaer, IN (thus her middle name) she was born as a Blue Chow Chow. (You can see photos of her throughout her life at http://www.thorprojects.com/ashley/photos). We went to see about her right before I was leaving on a trip to Cleveland. We left a deposit for her and agreed to return the next week to get her. Shelley was thoughtful enough to bring a stuffed animal (a smiley face) to let it get the scent of her siblings and the farm. After a few minutes there, and a long car ride back home we got our new puppy home.
She's the kind of dog that will spoil you. She never once went to the bathroom on the floor. Careful crating and frequent trips outside to go to the bathroom and she caught on to what she needed to do almost instantly.
Shortly after her arrival we realized there was a problem. During a well puppy visit the vet heard an issue with the heart. Several visits to specialists later and the message from the puppy cardiologist was grim. Her life expectancy was 2-3 years. They didn't know what was wrong with her heart but they knew something was seriously wrong. We decided against surgery and instead began a regimen of medicines that occurred twice a day for every day of her life. She celebrated 10 years of life with us not long ago. I used to joke that it was her clean living. She didn't smoke. She didn't go out gallivanting until all hours of the night. Other than the drinking problem, she was pretty good. (She drank a lot from the medicines -- and she was messy at drinking.)
She changed us in ways I can't express. From the simple things, like the fact that she had a ramp so she could get into my (Rob's) office to visit me anytime she wanted. The more complex things like how we learned to take time out for each other and look at the world differently are much harder to express.
Her final hours are somewhat of a mystery. I (Rob) know that I sat down at the top of the stairs this morning and rubbed her belly for a few minutes to tell her I loved her. She stretched in the way that she usually did when I rubbed her belly -- that stretch that says that it felt good. Sometime around 11AM Shelley noticed that there was a problem, Ashley was lying in places and in ways that she wouldn't normally do. She wouldn't open her eyes and she was breathing very fast and shallow.
I (Rob) took her into the local vet's office and they quickly assessed her situation and realized that she was having heart failure. After some medicines to help restart her heart she got better momentarily before having a seizure. There were some other options but frankly none of us felt like they would help her. She left this world slightly before 1PM.
Right now she's at Purdue to be examined. We know what her cause of death was -- that's simple. However, we had made a commitment over 9 years ago to allow her to be studied so that hopefully if there was another puppy with a similar set of circumstances that their life might be better. When they're done she'll be cremated, her ashes will be returned to us and we'll prepare a small memorial in the back yard that she loved so much.
If you're getting this message, it's because you're a friend, colleague, or may be in some way impacted by this event which has changed our lives forever.