I do not recall devoting any blog space to Winston so now is the time. Winston is our English cocker spaniel. He picked us as his new owners in January of 2001. He was ten months old.
Winston had previous owners who beat him as a puppy. The wounds in our little guy are deep. Hold that thought.
Ron and I used to say that if we had a nickel for every smile he put on our face we would be filthy rich. When we first adopted Winston I had sternly said that he would not be sleeping on the bed. Within six months he had taken over our queen size bed. For Winston, life is grand when he has a full belly and he is snuggled to one of us. Ron called him my shadow. For a long time, Winston would only go places with me or me and Ron.
One Saturday morning, when we lived at Swartz Bay, Ron proved to me just how stubborn Winston was if I was not there. Ron dressed for a run, leashed Winston and proceeded down the driveway---not. Wiston would not go. He dug his little paws into the drive way in a similar fashion to a donkey who is not going to budge. Looking out the bedroom window I could not contain myself. I was rolling on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter. That is one story we never forgot and often told.
Dogs have feelings and the innate ability to sense. Reflecting on the past year, I have realized what a stressful year it has been for Winston. One year ago, June 10, Ron, Winston and I set out to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. While Winston is treated extremely well, there are time when we are boating he is not the happiest canine. He does not like extremely rough weather. He does however, tolerate long days aboard. We have always ensured that he had solid ground at the end of the day. He definitely likes dinghy rides. Most of all, he loved to snuggle with Ron in the cockpit while we were under way. We were away from June 10 to about July 20. Winston was in his glory having us every day, all day for six weeks.
August 19 Ron was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Ron never returned to his work. Ron and Winston were all day buddies. Winston had to have felt the unrest and turbulence of our new life coping with Ron's cancer. I, too, was leading a less than scheduled life - work, doctor appointments, caner clinic appointments and Ron's bucket list.
Toward the end, we left Winston with neighbours Tim and Tara while Ron and I went to Disney World. Shortly after Ron's visit with Mickey, he was admitted to palliative care. Winston was allowed to visit and I did bring him every day up until a couple days before Ron slipped away. This too was an upset to Winston's world. He was always well taken care of but he knew something was going on.
In April, I had to rush Winston to the vet. The diagnosis, after x-rays and ultra sound, was stomach cancer. I was told there is no treatment except to control the pain. I thought to myself, why am I going through this again with my dog. I asked for another opinion and the information was sent back east to an 'expert' and his diagnosis was that Winston did not have stomach cancer. This good news came two days after the initial diagnosis. Winston was feeling better and in no pain. I accepted the latter diagnosis.
The whole ordeal at the vet traumatized Winston. Remember earlier I said that he was a beaten puppy. Well, all the trust that Winston had learned over the past ten years has been lost. If he feels the slightest inkling that he is going to be hurt, he will nip at you to protect himself. I now have to warn everyone of Winston's self preservation actions.
During Winston's emergency and for the two days after, when I believed stomach cancer would be Winston's fate, I had come to grips that perhaps Ron needed Winston with him. Or perhaps, Winston needed to be with Ron. Somehow, the universe decided that Winston should stay with me for a little longer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Since Ron's passing, life has been less than routine for Winston. He has learned to ignore me. I have been trained to call him too many times before being made to obey the command. I found myself getting very frustrated as I am sure he has been frustrated with me. I needed to go back to the basics in training.
At the Cy Hanson Park on Lochside Drive, I witnessed a man controlling his dog with a whistle. I grilled this man for a half hour on how to do it and ultimately, is Winston too old. He said no, Winston is not too old. The whistle training has been a refreshing new start for us. Winston is my loyal little buddy.