Ace’s and my story is truly a tale of love, destiny, good fortune and fate. The full story can be read in my upcoming book, Ace: Extraordinary Life, Extraordinary Death, but here are some highlights, so you can get a sense of my love for this dog and the relationship we shared.
When Ace was about 8 weeks old, I agreed to foster him and his brothers, King and Joker, as part of the volunteer work I was doing at the time for a dog rescue in AZ. The puppies had been exposed to distemper prior to being rescued from the pound, and the litter, which included 4 additional puppies, were showing symptoms of the disease. I didn’t have the time, space or resources to have a dog full-time, but I could take the puppies for the short term.
Within 3 short weeks, both King and Joker were euthanized due to the onslaught of the disease, 8 days apart. Over this same period, the other 4 litter mates, who were being fostered elsewhere, also met the same fate. It would turn out that Ace would be the only survivor of his litter.
Joker died first; that night, to comfort the cries of King and Ace, I spent the night on the kitchen floor with them, where they were basically confined while becoming fully potty trained. When King started having seizures, I slept with the puppies as well, although we all moved into the living room. After King was euthanized, I brought Ace into my bedroom and set up a little bed on the floor next to mine. I couldn’t bear the thought of him sleeping by himself after losing his brothers, and he was a comfort to me as well.
Over the next 5 weeks, I spent all my free time with Ace. I taught him to walk on a leash as well as basic commands. He was very smart and learned quickly. Thoughts were going through the back of my mind about keeping him, but I kept putting them off, reminding myself why I had only intended to foster in the first place. But there was no question I was falling for little Ace!
About 5 weeks later, circumstances pushed me to make a decision. So as planned, Ace was adopted by a wonderful couple who I thought could give Ace a better life, a better home, than I had to offer at the time. It was because I loved him that I gave him up as intended. Thanks to the generosity of Ace’s new parents, I remained closely in Ace’s life. They called me Mother Mary and honored my relationship with Ace by sending me Mother’s Day and Valentine’s cards from Ace! I walked Ace 1-3 times/week while they were at work and watched Ace any time they were out of town. There were always special treats for him & he moved up to sleeping on the bed with me when he came over. My bond with Ace only grew.
Two and a half years later, Ace’s Dad went into the hospital. It was decided that the interests of both Ace & his Dad could be best served by Ace returning to live with me full time! Although I would have preferred it to be under different circumstances, I was elated to have Ace back with me. I realized over the time he was away that it was our bond that mattered most; not whether I had a yard or doggie door to offer!
Ace and I had an amazing life together, and because I was fortunate to have lots of time to devote to him, our bond deepened beyond my expectations.
But when Ace was just eight and a half years old, he suddenly came down with kidney failure. I was devastated, and I told Ace that I would, and I did, do everything I could for him. I even rented a pump to administer IV fluids at home, so that Ace wouldn’t have to be in the hospital.
I also told him, however, that if he was not able to get well, and he had to leave this earth, I asked him to die of his own accord. I told him I did not want to call anyone or make the decision for him, nor did I want anyone to have to come over to take his life. For the past several years, it had been just Ace and me, and as in life, I wanted so in death.
Just two months after Ace’s diagnosis, Ace granted my request. There’s no mistaking that Ace was completely aware that not only was he about to die, he was aware of what that meant. He understood that he was saying goodbye; that we wouldn’t be seeing each other again, at least not in this form, and he showed me that it was hard for him, too. That night, while we were laying next to each other on our bed, Acey scooched himself over to me, not just once, but three times in a row, so that we were nose to nose. After the third time, Ace turned away, rolled onto his side, and a few moments later, he took his last breath.