A Tribute to Manny 

This story is a little bittersweet, because DORG was inspired by my little guy, Manny.  He was one of the most precious dogs I've ever known with a heart as big as they come. He fought uphill battles without any complaints and always had a kiss for me whether I asked for it or not. Who would have known that I would lose him just before going live with the magazine? He layed faithfully by my side through all the development and conferences listening to every word I'm sure. So, Manny, wherever you are, this magazine is for you and all the other wonderful little guys like you!

December 24, 1996 was a great day! Six little black and tan mini longhairs were born to Jenny. I was ecstatic. Four boys and two girls, all happy and healthy. 

Not having enough milk to nurse the brood, I took over the feedings for the first 3 weeks carefully monitoring the intake and the weight gain that 6 wiggly babies needed.  Jenny began producing milk, but by this time I didn’t want to give up the task since I could guarantee that everyone got their share and nobody got left out.  Two of the pups were a tad slower and smaller, consequently I had to make sure they were filled to the brim.  When I was sure everyone was as plump and as strong as each other I began letting Jenny take on more of the responsibility and everything went normal and according to the basic plan of puppy rearing.

(Manny in the middle, 4th from left)

At 4 weeks when the little pipsqueaks began their mobility maneuvers, everyone but one seemed to master the motion, getting stronger every day. By 5 weeks, they were all doing more and more scouting and still one was a bit behind in his ability, but, nevertheless, keeping up with his siblings.  I noticed that when he would walk, his little front feet would bend and trip him.  He fell more than the others, but would get right back up and keep on going.  After all, he was Manny.

At 7 weeks I had the litter looked at, particularly Manny. He was definitely having more problems with his mobility than the others and the vet suggested an x-ray to determine if he had any skeletal problems. He was compared to his closest brother, and the x-rays showed nothing abnormal. It was determined that it was neurological, yet an MRI was out of the question. I was told he’d never walk, and it was better to put him down. I wouldn’t hear of it and took him home. At 8 weeks he suffered two very debilitating seizures that left him dazed and incoherent.  I took him to a holistic vet who suggested that he might not make it, but it was worth trying to treat him with some Chinese herbs and phosphorus.  I was prepared to take him to be euthanized if need be, but wasn’t prepared emotionally.  With my vet off the following day I couldn’t have taken him if I wanted to, so Manny lay stone faced in his bed, but obviously listening and obviously getting stronger.

The following day, as if a miracle had happened, Manny began responding. He ate, he drank and he barked. He still couldn’t walk, but he was bright, alive and demanding of his siblings to pay attention to him and play with him. They would all bundle on top of him and they’d be the same black and tan lump of fur that they grew up as.

Within a period of time, Manny’s strength returned and he began to walk again.  He moved more labored than the others, but he did just fine. Manny continued to thrive and grow, actually developing a coat that anyone would have been jealous of. He suffered a couple of setbacks along the path of the 3 years, but faired well, and was strong. He knew his routine and his limitations. He accepted life as it was and was never demanding. He would lay in my arms while watching TV and lay in my arms at night, making the best arm pillow. (The picture above was not going to be taken until he was better and able to get around, simply because there would be no "group" shot until Manny was able to rejoin the group.)

In the spring of 99 Manny lost his battle to walk. He had become less able to get around without getting tired until one day he just couldn’t manipulate his front legs to hold him up any longer. My little man was now immobile, but very mobile, since now he got carried everywhere. Wherever I was, he was. He watched everything that went on and knew when I would leave him and walk away that I’d be back to get him. He never complained. He ate well, slept well and drank well.  He was never a burden nor was there ever a day that I didn’t want to take care of him. His response was normal for love and attention and his little kisses would tell me he was happy. Just laying on my chest, being hugged by me was his greatest thrill. A feeling for me that will forever be imprinted into my heart.

Manny’s zest for life came abruptly to an end on February 4, 2000.  While I never leave my office at 8:30 in the morning, that day I did.  When I returned shortly thereafter, Manny, who laid in his bed next to my desk, didn’t tilt his head and eyes up to look at me when I walked in as he usually did. Instead, he looked straight ahead.  When I bent down calling his name, there was no response. There was no response when I shook him, and no response when I picked him up.  My little man had left me. He left me when I wasn’t next to him. I don’t know if he did that for my sake or not, but I choose to believe he knew he had to leave and he knew there was nothing I could do to change that this time, so he decided to go while I was gone. My sadness lies with the fact that I didn’t get to say goodbye or to be with him for those last minutes he was here.  He showed no sign of pain nor struggle, so I hope it was because he tiptoed out of here before I could stop him. 

I will forever have his body imprinted on my chest and in my arms and the feeling of unconditional love in my heart  that a little dog was able to share with me even if for only a short 3 year period.  I will always feel a lifetime of love from Manny and will always use his strength and determination to guide me in life. He never gave up and he never looked at what he couldn’t do. He only looked at what he could do, and did it with dignity  and compassion.  After all, he was Camelot’s My Special Little Man.

Rest safely my little man, for my love will forever be yours.
Camelot Dachshunds

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