Weekly Theme - Portraits

by Bethany Plonski January. 18, 2019 549 views

This has been a sad week for us as we said goodbye to our dog Quinn. It’s something I’ve been bracing myself for, but it still feels like it all happened so fast. Quinn has a really long story, and as my husband said earlier this week, he was hard to put into words.

For now, I’ll say that Quinn was a rescue dog who came with a lot of behavioral and medical issues, and he was hands-down the most challenging and grumpy but also goofy and lovable dog I’ve ever known. I don’t know where to begin in describing his many quirks, but I loved each and every one of them. He changed our life in so many ways, and everything about our daily routine feels so different and empty without him.

Last summer, we found out Quinn had a cancerous tumor growing on one of his adrenal glands, but due to his age, surgery wasn’t an option. Our vet helped us create a plan to manage the pain and secondary symptoms to give Quinn the best quality of life possible in the meantime, but eventually the tumor would grow and either metastasize or press into his vena cava and cause a rupture that would kill him.

We never knew exactly how old Quinn was, but the vet estimated he was 9 or 10 when we adopted him almost 5 years ago. In the last six months, the decline in his overall health had been steady, but starting Sunday night, we noticed changes in his usual symptoms that seemed to be speeding up. By Tuesday, he wouldn’t eat, could barely stand, and seemed dazed and disoriented.

We took him to the vet and had his tumor checked by ultrasound again. It had grown from 1 cm to 5.5, and the cancer had also spread to his liver. So on Tuesday night, we made the difficult decision to let Quinn go peacefully rather than wait for the cancer to run the rest of its painful course. After everything the poor dog had been through in his life, the last thing we wanted was for him to go out in desperate pain or panic.

At first I thought I’d just skip this week’s challenge, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make a portrait that in some way honored Quinn and reflected how much we already miss him. 

I think the truest words I know about loss come from Mary Oliver, who, sadly, passed away this week also. I first read her poem “In Blackwater Woods” the year I lost my dad, and its ending been etched in my mind since then.

To live in this world 

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time come to let it go,

to let it go.

So it’s a long story, but that’s what I had in mind for this portrait. Rest in peace, Quinn Bear. You deserved so much better than what the first part of your life gave you, and even though I miss you, I’m happy you’re finally free. 

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Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

You did the right thing. 
You did the right thing when you adopted him.
You did the right thing when you took care of him.
And you did the right thing when you had to tell him goodbye. 
You are a good person, Bethany! And Quinn knew it! blue heart

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Andi. That means a lot to me. blue heart He was our baby, always wanted the best for him.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Antonio Gil 1 year, 1 month ago

So sorry for your loss dear friend.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Antonio Gil 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Antonio. There have been a lot of tears this week!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Ines Ganteaume 1 year, 1 month ago

So very sorry for your lost.  Very moving and lovely story!  I have two rescue and they are my world. Hugs

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Ines Ganteaume 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you for your kind comment, I appreciate that so much. blue heart Rescue dogs are wonderful, I don’t think I could go any other way!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Ines Ganteaume Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

My rescue pets  is a cat and an African Grey Bird.   Rescue animals bring lots of love into our life and vice versa.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Ines Ganteaume 1 year, 1 month ago

So true. smile And what great pets you have! I love cats, and African greys are so beautiful and smart!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bill Baird 1 year, 1 month ago

You have our deepest sympathy. It is so tough to lose companion that has been so loving and loyal. 
He will live forever in your heart with so many great memories. We had a similar experience 2 years
ago and were going to not get another but after a couple months we decided he would so want us 
to acquire another to receive the same love and care he received for only 3 short years. God bless !!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Bill Baird 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you so much, Bill. It means a lot to hear from other people who have been through something similar. I’m sorry for your loss too, but glad you decided to give another dog a loving home! It’s hard to say no to such faithful companions even when you know you’ll have to go through the pain of losing them some day. They leave us wonderful memories!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 1 year, 1 month ago

so sorry for the loss, I hope sharing this with us helps you in some way

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Pete Fitzgetald 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, I appreciate that. For me, writing about anything helps the reality of it to sink in. Just how I process thing I guess.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

I feel your pain, Bethany.

My golden retriever Burchard had to leave for Wolfhalla in November 2016. He was 15 years old and had been on medication for months because his rear legs didn't quite follow anymore. In the end however the medication didn't work anymore and he could stand up no longer. He had always been very clean, very beautiful, and now he wet himself and would just have to stay in that condition till I came home from work. I saw the shame in his eyes,that were slowly dimming too, while he had lost his hearing earlier already. So, I took the same decision as you did. Never done anything that hard. I bursted into tears when the vet did her work, and I couldn't even look at my garden (where I burried him under the cherry tree) for a month or so without crying. And, honestly, even more than a year later there are evenings on which I miss my boy, on which I try to remember how it felt when I petted him, but I can't anymore (which makes me sad every time I think about it). And I still feel guilty about sending him to the other side ...

Right, I'll stop whining now, and say that both Quinn's portrait and the portrait you did of the both of you are great. I'm sure Quinn will look upon it from Wolfhalla too and be happy.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

I’m so sorry to hear about Burchard, and you’re right, making that decision and being there at the end is incredibly painful. With my first dog Indy, I was so wrecked afterwards that I didn’t even leave my house for about a week. This is my second time going through it, so at least I had some idea what to expect, even though I dreaded it. Thankfully, Quinn was much more peaceful than Indy, who panicked right before the end, it was awful. That was about 7 years ago now and I will still cry sometimes thinking about him. I have a clay imprint of his paw on my desk, and I’m so glad I have something tangible to remember him by. Thank you for sharing your experience. I don’t see it as whining at all. At times like this it helps a lot to know other people understand how difficult it is. I really appreciate your kindness.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

I made a little booklet about Burchard (who was as calm in the last moment as he had ever been). Photos and drawings (made by my girlfriend) of my friend (I've known him longer than I have been together with my ex and my girlfriend). Maybe a good idea for you too. It's not really tangible, but at least it helps me remembering the sweet moments. Oh yeah, I read the thing about the bunny you wrote to Sherry: the day we burried Burchard the garden was full of birds and for the first time a squirrel. It was the only day in that month with sun, before and after that day it was all fog and cold. Felt like a goodbye message from Burchard too.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

I love that idea! We started compiling our photos of him the other day and will probably make a photo book at some point. There are so many that make us laugh (and of course, cry). Going through them is also making me realize I need to be more diligent about taking photos of our other dog Molson while I can. And about your goodbye message, it’s amazing to me how comforting and “in sync” nature can be. It’s like there is a whole other intelligence there.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sherry Hill 1 year, 1 month ago

blue heart and hugs.. 
[literally crying here]
Quinn was beautiful and you are amazing, rescuing a dog in his later years.. giving him the love he deserved.. 
i believe animals have such pure spirits that they don't need to reincarnate, their spirit can stay with us..

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Sherry Hill 1 year, 1 month ago

blue heart Thank you, Sherry, such kind words. He had been getting weaker in his hind legs toward the end, so he started doing this little bunny hop thing when he’d try to run, moving both of them together at the same time. Then when we got home from the vet Tuesday night, the first thing I saw was a little bunny in the yard running off into the trees, like Quinn was letting us know he was alright. I felt like it was a blessing from him. 😊

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Such a moving tribute. 
Being a dog person, I can feel your sorrow, having had to put down two of my own "kids"....
R.I.P. Quinn!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Jay. That’s the one thing I don’t like about having dogs, that we outlive them.  They’re such good companions, when they’re gone it really leaves a void.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
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