I brought him home at 8 weeks old on December 31, 2007.
This was the picture that was posted on the adoption site that had me driving several hundred miles round trip for the opportunity to adopt him:
Weeks earlier I had lost another dog-love of my life in a tragic accident that left a huge void in my heart. When I went looking for another Sheltie to adopt this little "Sheltie mix" named "Scooter" came up on the petfinder site and I just fell in love. I drove down to Beaverton, Oregon to adopt him the very next day, showing up before the doors opened so that I could be first in line.
When I held "Scooter" the first time he was just a tiny little thing. I laid him against my chest and he nuzzled into my neck and licked my skin. I had to have him...he was just too darn cute. He was so calm and sweet. I immediately adopted him and we headed back home to Tacoma. His new name in his forever home would be "Peyton". He quietly slept the entire 3 hour drive.
Peyton slept through the whole first night without making a sound. I thought I had adopted the most peaceful, well-behaved dog on the planet.
And then I figured out he was sick. Really sick. Poor little guy had an upper respiratory infection. He was blowing little snot-bubbles out of his nose. No wonder he had been so sleepy...he was fighting illness! So I spent the next several days medicating him...which was no easy task. The little bugger HATED having his mouth messed with. And puppies have dang-sharp little teeth! Eventually I would win the medication battles but I ended up with wounds to prove it. After the antibiotics took effect, the real personality of this little guy started to emerge. God love him...he was a rambunctious, attention seeking WHINER! Non-stop with the whining! Oh. My. Gosh...we used to call him a drama queen. He seemed so sweet and innocent...so calm and complacent those first couple of days. It was all a façade! And his energy...it never quit. Ever. He could run laps around the moon.
Oh...and he was definitely NOT a Sheltie. He was stubborn...so difficult to train. I would take him to "Puppy Kindergarten" classes and he would whine through the entire session, wanting nothing more than to play with the other dogs. Training was NOT on his agenda. But I adored him. I absolutely adored him. He was quite a doll. He was my little baby...for seven years he was my baby.
About 2 years ago he seemed to suddenly lose his hearing. I say "seemed" and "suddenly" because we honestly don't know when exactly it happened. We know that he used to come to his name being called. He used to come to the sound of hands clapping. He used to know when I would walk in the back door of the house when I returned home from work. And then one day he just stopped coming when called. And weeks later he stopped coming to the clapping. And then the most telling was the day I came home from work and walked all the way into the living room and scared the heck out of him, waking him from a dead sleep....he had no clue I was there.
We watched as he got used to his new deaf world...making adjustments by watching the actions of our other two dogs to figure out how he should act. If they flinched he flinched. If they barked he barked. He learned (sort of) to come to some hand signals. He used Lily as his hearing aid...following her because if she moved, more than likely food or a loved one was nearby.
We started having some concerns when he started doing some odd things in the middle of the night, like walking into doors and walls instead of through doorways. But the incidents were so isolated that we couldn't really point to a significant issue. And he seemed so happy and energetic the rest of the time that there was no other cause for concern.
There were some occasional deep sleeps that seemed like they might be something more akin to a seizure. But we didn't know for sure. And he always woke from it...and was always just fine afterwards.
The discussions we had, honestly...was that Peyton...more than likely...had a brain tumor. The hearing loss, the occasional walking into walls, the sometimes insane spastic running through the house he would do, and the questionable "seizures"...it just seemed like it was very possible. But if it were true, he was otherwise a very happy, healthy, energetic little guy...and any treatment would likely do more harm than good, so we consciously decided to just let him be. We had him evaluated by doctors...never going so far as to get an MRI...just enough to know that he was doing "ok".
At 7pm I started dishing up their food. They all came running as they normally do. Peyton ran excitedly into the kitchen as he normally did, and crashed into the cabinet...also normal. I laid the food bowls down, and he ate his at his usual pace. All three dogs went outside.
This is when the first weird thing happened....which I can't tell if it was any kind of a sign in hindsight or not, but Peyton came back inside while the other two hung outside for a while...which is the inverse of what usually happens. I just remember going and looking for Levi and Lily after a while, kind of in shock that they were still outside while Peyton was lazily sleeping on the bed.
Friday morning Peyton was scheduled to have his teeth cleaned under anesthesia at his old veterinary clinic in Tacoma so we had to be up early and he had to be off food and liquid after 9pm. So at 9pm I picked up the water bowl for the night and planned on snuggling with him for a little while before putting him in his kennel for bed. But at some point he jumped off the bed and I heard him walking awkwardly around the bedroom. Then I heard one of the other dogs snap at him...which happens a lot. He retreated to the bathroom...which I hadn't heard him do before. He usually retreated to the hallway. I picked him up and put him in his kennel. I didn't notice anything wrong at this point....but obviously something was.
Scott came home from work at 3am. As he usually does he opened the kennel to let Peyton out for a bathroom break. He noticed that Peyton seemed to not be interested in going outside, but instead walked to a couple different rooms in the house, but otherwise he didn't notice anything too off.
At 3:30 a.m. I thought I heard whimpering. I turned on the bedroom light to see who it was. All three dogs were perfectly still. I figured I must have imagined it and went back to bed.
My alarm went off at 4am for my workout. I laid in bed for a couple minutes not wanting to exercise. I heard some rustling around in Peyton's kennel. Then I heard some whimpering. I opened the kennel and Peyton stood up but did not exit. He looked confused and hunched over.
I put my hand in front of his nose so he could smell that it was me. It did not change his confusion. I pulled him out of the kennel and held him in my arms. Something was wrong but I couldn't quite tell what it was. He wasn't right.
He writhed in my arms. I set him down on the bed. He stumbled across the bed looking confused and agitated. Then he fell off the bed. He attempted to walk across the floor but he looked awkward and almost drunk. I thought maybe he was in the midst of a seizure like maybe something "slightly worse" than what I had caught in the past....
But 10 minutes later it wasn't getting better.
I had tried taking him outside. He came in and walked into the elliptical machine...confused.
I woke up Scott.
Something was definitely wrong. I had a foreboding feeling in my heart that my dog was dying.
I got dressed to drive him to the emergency animal hospital. While I was dressing he fell off the bed again. Scott didn't know to hold onto him...didn't know how bad this morning had been so far.
I picked him up and put him on the front seat of the car and started to drive. He curled into a ball. After a couple of blocks I could no longer hear his breathing.
The animal hospital is only 3 minutes from my house. I'm not sure I breathed until I heard him take a breath again.
I took him in and they took him back to evaluate him. They asked me questions...had he eaten anything? Did he have access to any toxins? How long had he been acting like this. They said he looked bad. They took his blood. They sedated him...and then he declined. He was no longer breathing on his own. He was no longer responsive.
He was euthanized at 10am. I held him in my arms as he died peacefully...no pain. No sound.
I regret that the final 8 hours of his life were filled with some anxiety, confusion, and desperation that maybe I didn't pick-up on soon enough. But I know that this little boy was loved fully and lived a vibrant, energetic, happy-dog life...
I will always love you little man...always.