Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RIP Sandy Dragon

This is probably the toughest blog post I have written to date. On Sunday, August 13 our geriatric dragon, Sandy Claws, died. He was 13 1/2. He lived with us for 5 years and two months.

That day he ate a bunch of crickets, tried to escape out the back corner, hung out in his soaking dish, crawled out again on his own, crawled into his cave, came out, pooped, and crawled back in again. He was in the process of shedding. At some point we took him out so he could look out the  back door and I was able to capture this picture of him looking at Max.
Yes, truly, this was taken on his very last day. With Max Cat.
All in all it was a good day for him. The only reason we disturbed his sleep that night was so Don could feed him more crickets before he and Ashley left for Canada. I was outside with Ashley when Don called to me in a panic. Sandy did not look right. When he lifted the cave, he noticed a lot of drool coming out of his mouth. Sandy has had a problem with dehydration, which manifested in "strings" of saliva when he opened his mouth, but he had never seen anything like this. We were pretty convinced he was gone, or at least almost gone. I cuddled him. I think we saw his eyes move a little, and his mouth started to close, but not much movement. I didn't notice him take another breath. As a last ditch effort I put him in the bathtub (he hated being in the tub). The three of us sat around him crying for the longest time. 

He was my buddy. We spent many evenings snuggling while I read a book. Yes, dragons can be snuggly. He showed people the spikes are not pointy, they are designed to scare away enemies. Don claims he "helped him read," which really means with Sandy on his 
chest, Don would relax and fall sound asleep.

The cats knew he ruled, and gave him space. 

My friends Carin, Nancy, and Lisa enjoyed dragon sitting for him, and often asked for updates.

We are struck by awe at how this all played out. Don and Ashley were scheduled to go to Canada in the morning. I was going to stay home. For some reason I wasn't comfortable leaving him for five days (we did leave him with a friend in June for three days, so I don't know why I felt this way this time).

He died on our watch with all three of us home to say our good-byes, not a day later when Don and Ashley were in Canada. Not while being watched by a friend who would have felt awful. In the summer when Ashley didn't then have to go to school in the morning, or Don to work. At one point we said when Sandy goes, we will declare a day of mourning.

Three years ago he was near death, and never recovered to his youthful state. At the time he was 10 1/2 years old. We were told they live 8-10 years. With our love and hand-feeding, he lived another three years. Ironically three years ago we took him with us to Canada because we didn't want him to die on someone else's watch. Seemed to make sense he would die as we approached the annual trip to Canada.

With his death, I lined up our cat sitter and joined them in Canada for a couple of days. I wasn't ready to face the empty windowsill. I still find myself looking for him. Sandy was the source of much entertainment. People ask about him (the older he became the more cautiously they asked). I would send Don updates about him. We often had to set him right when he flipped over and couldn't flip back. 

The kitchen window went from this:

To this:

It looks so empty! I keep looking in the window to see how he is doing.

Some Sandy pictures. I can't find one of me snuggling with him. The downside of being behind the camera.

With Kitty Lucy

Napping with Charlie Cat.

Sandy had a lot of problems staying upright.
Then his beard would get all black.

Favorite food was crickets, not red pellets.

Blessing of the animals. We felt he could use all the help we could give him.

An oldie -- with Ariel Cat.

His first night with us in 2012.

We say he was a gift from Santa because she asked Santa for him, I said no,
and several months later he ended up living with us.

He was a good sport while we tried to see how many balloons it would take to get him to fly
(more than the 9 we tied to his tiny body).

I miss him so much! 

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