Starskee, My Forever Friend

by Babs

Starskee came into our lives in 1996 when he was 14 months old. My husband and I had been through several very difficult months and I needed a pet to give me the love that I wasn't getting from my marriage. My husband needed some unconditional love too; we were still very committed to each other but had hit a rough patch in our marriage.

We talked about getting a dog so I grabbed a laundry basket and some towels thinking that we would purchase a small pup. We went to the kennels to select a little puppy but came home with Starskee, a full grown Australian Cattle Dog/Red Heeler. Starskee had been selected for breeding stock, however by the time he reached adulthood he was physically too large to meet the strict requirements for registered breeders. Their loss was our gain.

My husband and I embraced Starskee, he had a big heart and enough love for both of us. What a boy; big, boisterous and always in your face, he was incredible. When I came home from work he was always there to give me an enthusiastic welcome, hoping that I would grab his leash and take him for a walk.

In 2003 my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Starskee slept next to his bed and was his constant companion, following him wherever he went. He was loyal and faithful, and lived up to the title of "Man's Best Friend".

In 2005 my husband passed away, somehow Starskee seemed to understand, and in his own way he grieved too. I was so grateful to have Starskee after losing John; he brought comfort and gave his unconditional love to me, and in his own special way helped heal my wounded heart. With Starskee around, I always felt safe. He was the type of dog that would die protecting and defending those he loved. Thankfully he was never called to perform that duty.

As Starskee began to age I noticed that senility was creeping into his boisterous personality. Sometimes he would stand with a quizzical look on his face like "what am I supposed to do now?", so I would give him a command to help relieve his anxiety.

One day as he was running around the house I noticed that his back legs were sliding out from under him. Concerned, I had the vet x-ray him to see what the problem was; the verdict was a compressed spine, I nearly cried when I looked at the x-rays and marvelled how he coped. I also noticed that it was getting harder for him to breathe.

My dear friend was in constant pain; being a Cattle Dog his stoic personality disguised the seriousness of his condition. I couldn't bear to see him in pain and did everything I could to make his life comfortable. The vet put him on some drugs which helped with the inflammation.

Our house has tile floors so I laid strips of carpet so he could grip the carpet as he walked. I looked into having a sling made with wheels to help him walk but I knew that eventually I had to accept the reality of the situation. My beloved pet was in pain and constantly hurting.

The hardest and most painful day came when I had him euthanized. He laid patiently in the back of my station wagon as the vet tried (unsuccessfully) to find a good vein in which to inject the drug (some of his veins had collapsed). It was so hard for me; I was overflowing with sadness and guilt. Eventually the vet found a good vein and administered the lethal dose and Starskee went peacefully to his eternal reward.

I miss him terribly. They say that pets come into your life for a purpose; they bring incredible joy and companionship and teach us many lessons. I would never trade all the anguish, sadness, hurt and pain for the joy and unconditional love Starskee brought into my life. I thank God for all the wonderful years we shared together.

Starskee my forever friend, God Bless you.

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