Humphrey's story was the same as so many others that had been surrendered by their families for various reasons and found themselves needing a new home. Thank goodness there is a Small Paws Rescue for these dogs as the alternative could have been much less appealing.
When Humphrey came into rescue, he was 39 pounds! I always referred to him as a little tank because he was just as solid as a tank! After a couple of trips to the vet we discovered Humphrey had a thyroid problem and started him on medication to help take care of that and he eventually got down to a much healthier 30 pounds. Humphrey settled in well in my home and shortly after was placed for adoption through our website. A couple of months after coming into rescue, Humphrey was adopted. He went to live in his new home in Ohio. Unfortunately, after several weeks his new owner decided it wasn't a good fit and surrendered Humphrey back to Small Paws Rescue. I was the logical choice to foster him again as he was comfortable with me and my Poodle Fozzy Bear. Once Humphrey was back in Arkansas it wasn't long before my friends began telling me they were quite sure Humphrey had found his forever home, and they were right.
At Small Paws Rescue when you adopt your foster dog its affectionately called "failing fostering 101"! I always told everyone I was happy to be a failure! Humphrey was almost 10 years old when I adopted him but as anyone with a Bichon knows, their age has little if anything to do with how they act or feel. Humphrey was full of life and everything was fine as long as he got his way.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2006. Our life rocked along at an easy pace until the spring of that year when I noticed it seemed like Humphrey had been coughing quite a bit, more than would normally be expected. I decided to run him into the vet to have it checked out never expecting that our lives would change like they did. Dr. Smith, one of the wonderful vets at Chestnut Small Animal Clinic called and said he sounded a little raspy in his lungs and wanted to do a chest x-ray to see how things were. I stopped in at the end of the day to talk to Dr. Smith and pick up Humphrey when I found out just what was going on. Humphrey's heart was enlarged and pushing on his trachea. In short, he had congestive heart failure. Needless to say, I was stunned. When I asked about his life expectancy she said she found they typically lasted 1-6 months. I really couldn't comprehend what I was hearing. Could it really be that this seemingly otherwise healthy dog only had six months to live?? We left armed with enough meds to start a small pharmacy. After going home and having a small pity party at the thought of losing one of my precious pets, I decided we were going to enjoy whatever time we had left.
Humphrey was diagnosed in June 2006 and after a real scare the very week he had been diagnosed, he did pretty well the better part of the summer. There were several trips to the vet whenever I felt he was coughing too much or maybe I thought his breathing was labored, but all in all he did really well. That was until August 29, 2006. I had taken him into the vet because he wasn't feeling well and his tummy seemed really tight. It was decided he had an upset tummy and was given some meds to relieve it. I had gone over to a friends home that evening only to come home to find that Humphrey was struggling to breathe. Dr. Smith had told me what to look for to know they were having difficulty breathing. The outstretched neck as they tried in vain to get more oxygen was the most obvious sign. I came home to find him, neck outstretched, unable to relax. My first thought was, "Ok, this is just another momentary setback. I'll get him into the vet the first thing in the morning and he will be fine". But as it turned out, he wasn't fine. Unable to breathe, he couldn't relax and paced around all night. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to find him beside my bed. I got down in the floor with him, sat for awhile and hugged him and told him it would be ok. I went back to sleep and woke up the next morning just before 6:30 a.m. and immediately looked for him. I found him in the doorway leading from the living room into the small hallway that goes to my room. I said his name and he didn't move. I touched his foot and it was sort of stiff and I knew he was gone.
I called my parents and cried into the phone that Humphrey was gone. I almost couldn't say it, it was just so hard to believe that after not quite even three months he was gone. I called a good friend of mine who came and took us to the vet clinic. I had to decide, did I want his ashes? I frankly didn't know what I wanted. I soon decided that the ashes weren't who Humphrey was, he was the little white furry tank I remembered and loved and so I chose to just have him cremated. I know this is a very personal decision and its different for everyone but this is what worked for me.
Three weeks prior to when he died he had gone to see Miss Janice for his monthly grooming. When I made that appointment I called a local photography studio to see if they did pets as I had many snapshots of Hump but I wanted something more formal and lasting. Luckily, they had an opening on the day he was groomed so I took him in not knowing that three weeks later he would be gone. Wouldn't you know it, they called me the day Hump died to tell me his proofs were ready. They were wonderful. Humphrey wouldn't sit still, but the photographer, Brandy Strain, was able to get some goods shots. One shot in particular was just stunning. I have no idea when it was taken, but it was obviously at some point when he looked up at me as I was trying to get him to pose. I know this post has been very long, but anyone who knew Humphrey knew he was worthy of such a wordy post! This is the photo at the end of each Small Paws newsletter and at the top of this post. To this day I still get wonderful comments from people about his picture.
Humphrey...what a good boy he was.