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"Now I have to remember you for longer than I've known you"

This was not supposed to be my next post. I was working on a few others but never got to put the finishing touches on them, so now here we are.

Sunday, June 5, 2022 at 4:07pm Sir Louie Armstrong of Wiggle Bottom passed away.

Many people have asked me what happened, was he sick, they had no idea he wasn't doing well. The honest answer is, he wasn't sick and he was just fine 24-hours prior to falling ill.

After at least five years of being on his own, learning to survive without the constant help from humans, he made a fatal mistake. It's hard not to blame myself, it's hard to not have seen this as an option of what might take him from me. I always thought he'd get distracted and cross the street at the wrong time, or somehow a coyote would find him sleeping on the porch and start a fight or just plain old heat exhaustion would have me finding him lifeless in my front yard.

Saturday morning he was enjoying his usual sunrise under the tree. I put out his food and water and expected him to walk over to me to say good morning. He didn't, so I met him half way and got my snoot boop. He followed me to the porch and drank a few sips of water. I figured he was still too full to eat just yet since he ate dinner after midnight. He sat on the porch and then under his bush fort for a bit. When Chris and Eli started mowing the lawn, he went for a walk and returned to a nearby tree.

When he arrived at the house shortly after 4:30pm he went to his bowl for a sip of water. I came out to give him some fresh cool water and his demeanor was different. It was as though he knew he made the mistake and didn't want to tell me. He then went and sat under his bush.

I went out to sit with him and watch him. I knew something was off but couldn't tell what it was exactly. I brought him a water bowl to him on the sidewalk and watched as he drank it all. I went inside to fill up the cup again to fill the bowl. I told Chris something wasn't right and I went back out. Louie came over to sit in his corner out of the sun. I looked at him and noticed flies by his rear and tail. I shoed them away with my hand Louie didn't really react. I went and filled his water again and when I returned outside he just looked up at me with the saddest eyes and drank his water.

This was the moment I knew it was not good. I went into the house to retrieve his leash and let Chris and Eli know my intentions so that they could help if I needed them to. Chris came out to Louie first, looked at him in the corner and tried to use a stick to lift his tail to see what was causing the flies to be on him, Louie kept his tail tightly tucked. Louie got up and moved to another spot under the bushes. I walked over to him with the leash and collar, I attempted to see if he would let me put the collar on him and he backed away. I decided to make a slip lead out of the handle and tossed it over his head, flinched and moved slightly but it went over him. Step one, done fairly easily.

I tried to pull a little on the leash, hoping he would get up because he was annoyed and maybe even frightened. He just sat there, looking at me as though I was crazy. I messaged Teresa, Pawsitive Impact NC Dog Rescue, and informed her of our current situation and asked what I could do. I was panicking at this point. She told me to try and get him in the crate and take him to the Emergency Vet down the street from me, they're open 24-hours.

I asked Chris and Eli to get the door to the crate that was in the spare room and they went to look for it. I just sat there with Louie, continuing to try to get him to budge from under his bushes. When Chris and Eli returned with the door they worked on getting it back together and then brought the crate down to the grass. I asked Eli to hold the leash while I ran to get shoes on to be prepared to get Lou to the hospital. Eli took the leash and when I returned, he was in another spot under the bushes. I tried to go behind him and lure him by touching his back end, but he just let me touch him. He made no sound, no yelp, nothing. Chris went to one side and I went to the other and eventually we got Louie out from under the bushes. He ran to the left of the crate and stopped, jerked his head back and freed himself from the leash. I just stood there, total shock that he went from stillness to his usual energy. I cried, I didn't know what to do and I was positive I lost my only chance at getting him in the crate.

Time to suck it up and retry. I got the leash back to the slip lead and proceeded back to Louie slowly. He was now laying in the front yard, looking at me like I had hurt his feelings. I spoke slowly to him, "Sorry buddy. You know I have to do this, we gotta get you help." I told him. I attempted to put the lead on him again, just as before. This time he immediately jumped up and ran towards the street. I retreated, he walked halfway down the drive and laid down. I brought him his water, surely he needed to rehydrate after all that. Then after about five minutes of rest, Isabelle came outside and just as he got up to walk towards her, boom, fireworks went off in the distance. I knew we lost our chance, he was headed for the shed to take cover.

I sat on the back porch, waiting for him to come out. Walked to the shed and tapped on the side to let him know it was safe. Told him I was sorry I broke our agreement and doing what I said I wouldn't do, but he had to remember the part about it being for his own good. Please come out. I cried more, crouched down to see if I could see him under there, I couldn't. I waited up for him until almost 2am. I knew I wouldn't be able to see anything until the morning. So I filled up his water bowls with fresh water and laid down.

At 6:30am I woke up and opened the door to find that one of his water bowls was empty. He came out, but where was he? He wasn't under the tree, under his bushes, I walked the entire area around the house. He wasn't to be seen. I got a message from Teresa asking what was going on, any update? I told her that he must still be under the shed. For the first time in six years, I walked behind the shed and found it was high enough to see under it. It was empty. He wasn't there. I told her I didn't know where he would have went and hopefully he was just out visiting his lady friends.

I kept going outside every 30 minutes to see if he was walking down the street or laying next door, he wasn't. I cried to Chris and asked him, "Is he gonna come home?". He replied, "He'll come home when he feels better." I buried my face in his shoulder and asked, "What if he never feels better?". He stayed silent. We both knew the answer, and there was a chance that that could be the reality. Then, at 12:20pm I went outside to change his water and turned to look down the street and there he was. Laying in the yard three houses down. He just laid there, I didn't even get a tail wag to say hello. He sat up as if to say, "I'm here" but that was all. I walked inside, and told Chris he was down the street. He walked out there and called for him, "Hey buddy, what you doin down there?" Still no reaction. I started to walk towards him, showed him his water bowl and placed it back in the driveway in case he wanted to come drink something.

I walked back to the house, got my shoes on and walked across the grass of the two houses between us. One of our neighbors were outside getting their dog in the car and he said, "He's not feeling well is he?" I told him no and gave him the cliff notes of the night. He got in his car and left while I continued to walk towards Lou. I squatted in front of him and asked for a kiss. He declined. He moved his head away from me completely. The bottle flies were still swarming his rear end and I knew there wasn't much I could do except try to leash him again. I walked back to the house and showed him the water in the drive again. Then walked in the house and got my phone to update Teresa. She asked if he would eat, I told her I was just going to take him something now. When I walked outside with the cup of chicken, he was in the drive drinking his water. I walked slowly to him and gave him the food, told him to try and eat a little for me. I walked back to the house and told him I'd leave him alone for a bit, I was going to get him more water.

As I walked into the house and grabbed his cup, I heard my phone ping. I filled the cup and walked back to the living room asking Chris if he was out there. He said yes and Louie was laying down. I was inside and asked him if it was okay I sat here with him, then he laid completely down. I walked outside and he didn't move from his position. His breathing was a bit slower and I leaned down and touched his tongue. It was so cold. I yelled for Chris and told him I was sure he was dying. I updated Teresa as I sat next to Louie rubbing him, letting him know I was there. I told him I loved him and I understood if he didn't want to fight anymore, it was okay. Chris and Eli came out and said their goodbye's.

Teresa messaged me and told me she was sorry. I told her he was still fighting and she asked if I could get him to the ER vet. The boys grabbed him and put him on his blanket while I threw on a bra and grabbed my keys. We drove down the street with him in the back seat with Eli just laying there. Just before we pulled into the drive, Louie sat up. He panted, almost smile like and I gave him a head pat. I ran inside and let them know I had him and it was an emergency. They came out with the gurney and Eli put him on it. They wheeled him in to have tests ran. That was the last time I saw him.

I sat in the waiting room while they did their initial assessment. They put us in a room when they had some information for us. They came back with all unknowns, there wasn't a clear initial reason to him being the way he was. His chest scans came back clear and they were waiting on his bloodwork to come back with more information. They confirmed the fly strikes were present and that he had an elevated temperature. They said that they were trying to get a blood pressure reading because his oxygen levels were low. I told them what happened in the past 24 hours.

They proceeded to let us know that the bloodwork would take about 45 minutes and that we could grab something to eat if we wanted to or whatever. I asked to vet when she came in the room if she suspected heartworm, so many people seemed certain that with him not on a preventative and living on his own for so long that he HAD to be positive. She told me that it was a possibility and if it was hw, he would be in the final stage but she didn't want to jump down that rabbit hole until she got the bloodwork back. I decided to take Eli back home and grab something to drink while I waited. I called my mom to let her know what was going on and also let my sister, my boss and Teresa know as well. I drove back and waited in the parking lot for the call. I knew I wasn't going to be taking him home, no matter what anyone (other than a dogtor) said to me.

The phone call didn't come fast enough so I went back inside and waited in the room until the assistant came out and brought me back to the room. The vet walked in, sat down and told me that he coded while they were trying to run tests. They were currently doing CPR on him but have not been able to get him back. I began to cry and I told her I understood, I would call my husband to have him come and tell him goodbye with me. She said that there was no clear reason he was in this state. She said there could have been something called leptospirosis, which I had to google; it's a bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals, or it could have been some other toxin that caused his kidneys to fail so rapidly. Chris arrived shortly after 4:15pm and they wheeled Louie in.

I brushed his soft head and scratched between his ears. I thanked him for always sticking to our agreement and coming home so I didn't have to worry. I was sorry I let him get into something that would hurt him like this. Give grandpa a big kiss for me, let him scratch your head. Tell Tay I said hello and I miss him, play with Stoney and tell her how you waited for me to give you love. Try and find Sharon, Chris's mom, and let her give you some love. Look buddy they even used your signature color for your wraps, this is the only picture I will take of you in here. I kissed his forehead and let them take him back. I could have sat there with him for days if they'd let me, I wasn't ready and will never be ready to say goodbye.

So there it is, the story of Louie's last 24 hours. He was loved by more people than any other stray/feral dog in the world. He had my heart the moment he walked through my yard that warm April morning and he will forever own a piece of it. I refuse to believe that this is it, there is so much more to learn from him. I will continue to share him and what he's taught be over the last three years with all of you and anyone else that will listen.

I want to give a HUGE shout out to Teresa for all that she's done for Louie. She has helped so many animals in the community and she does it every day because she cares more than any other human being I've ever met. This is the link for Pawsitive Impact NC Dog Rescue I would be greatful if you would donate to this amazing non-profit. These amazing people took care of his vet bill so that I didn't have to worry about anything when it came to helping him that day. Thank you again Teresa, your kindness towards us and the way it's made me feel has no words.

Hug your furry babies as much as possible, you never know when it's their turn at the rainbow.

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