Friends, this is very long. Please don't feel obligated to read it. I really needed to write it, as this is how I deal with great sadness. Thank you for understanding.
My beloved foster, Trey Ezekiel, passed peacefully into the hands of our Lord on December 19, 2016. His rescue name was Trey. I gave him the middle name Ezekiel because it means "God strengthens him." From the very beginning, Trey needed all the strength he could get, as he was one of our long term medical fosters who had a multitude of issues.
In spite of all his physical challenges, Trey was one of the sweetest, funniest, most loving little guys I have ever known. His wonderful personality was like no other. He was so intelligent, and such a Houdini, who could escape all crates and open all doors and baby gates. He had the run of my house, mostly because I couldn't keep him anywhere he didn't want to stay. Trey loved soft pillows and thick cushions that he could snuggle into. He liked to decorate, taking pillows off of one sofa and moving them to another one. If I moved them back, I would wake up the next morning and find that he had rearranged them again. I realized very quickly that in this, as in pretty much everything else, we were just going to do things Trey's way. He even picked out his favorite foods, and fully expected that I would bring them home to him. His favorite was salmon - but not canned or farmed. Trey preferred "wild caught.” Our Foster Coordinator used to marvel at how quickly he went from a sickly and pitiful little street dog to an entitled little prince. I assured her that I had nothing to do with it. (Okay, maybe I catered to him just a little).
Trey was small, but he was fiercely protective of our home and of me. He barked a very firm warning at anyone who came to our door, with a very distinctive roor-roor-roor that I came to call "the Houston street dog yodel." My little Mighty Mouse could make anybody think twice about coming into our house or yard. Once they came in, and he saw that I welcomed them, he turned into the most charming host, who acted like the Lord of the Manor, welcoming his guests. Everybody who met him loved him. For the past nine months, Trey pretty much ruled the roost. I suspected that Trey had somebody who loved him and took care of him at some point in his life because he was so sweet and affectionate. He had not had any training, but he was such a good boy, and he wanted to please. In our whole time together, the most I ever said to him was a mild "Trey, what on earth are you doing?" And that was enough.
Trey was dropped off at BARC, and he was taken into our rescue in March of 2016. At about 40 lbs., Trey was a small GSD who was starving. You could clearly see his ribs and his backbone. He walked on three legs, limping along and carrying his fourth injured leg. His skin was in awful condition, and he had big clumps of hair missing from all over his body. What little fur he had was brittle and rough, like straw. He had obviously been an outdoor dog, possibly a street dog that somebody tossed leftover food to occasionally. He had severe infections in both ears, that made him miserable. Worst of all, he hung his head sadly down, as if he was deeply depressed and had given up on life. He was such a pitiful little guy.
For the next nine months, we went from vet to vet, trying to discover what would help Trey. Every vet was diligent and kind, and Trey would get better for a while. I would think that maybe this time we had found the magic. But every time, he would stop making progress, begin to go backwards, and generate a new set of symptoms. It was like he was falling off a cliff. We would be referred to the next vet, and a new series of medicines would be tried. The vets all loved him, because he wagged his tail, no matter what. At one period of time, I had to get 15 pills a day into Trey, and two sets of ear drops in both ears, twice a day. He really didn't like those ear drops, because they had to be stored in the refrigerator. But when I petted him and told him he was a good boy, he nuzzled me and wagged his tail. We had surgery on his leg, and his ability to walk got better - for a while. Finally, in the first week of October, we ended up back at the vet, still trying to discover what exactly would help Trey get completely well and STAY well. Over the next few weeks, our wonderful vet ran test after test, and tried different medications that aren't even available in Houston. I found out about places called "compounding pharmacies," where they mix medications that are geared very specifically to the most detailed, most exact combination of medical needs a dog presents with. And again, Trey got better. But in December, Trey stopped making progress, and generated another set of symptoms. He was so sick this time that he didn't just fall off a cliff. It felt like he was falling into the Grand Canyon. The treatment options were so limited and so discouraging, that the vet and I had that dreaded "quality of life" discussion. I had emotional discussions with trusted rescue friends, shed many tears, and prayed for guidance. As Trey continued to get worse, I made the painful decision to stop treatment and just keep him comfortable. We had a last weekend together, with lots of petting and cuddling, and tempting him to eat with all of his favorite foods.
We went to the vet just before Christmas for the last time. It was a freezing cold morning, very unusual for Houston, even in December. I dressed him in a little Christmas sweater and brought along a teddy bear Christmas pillow that he liked to carry around. I wanted him to be warm and comfortable, and to feel a part of home with him. I want to thank our Foster Coordinator and our Board for being so supportive. At no time did I feel any pressure to give up on Trey. The message was very clear: If I wanted to keep fighting, they would stand by Trey. Ultimately, I let Trey decide. He was so weak and felt so bad that I realized that I would be holding on for me, not for Trey. Please don't ask me what was causing his variety of symptoms and his relapses. If his doctors and I had been able to figure that out, he would still be with us. I would never have let him go if I believed there was any chance. For nine months, Trey was my shadow, and was never far from my side. He and my dog adored each other. They played together, cuddled together, ate together, and shared their toys. They were brothers in every sense of the word. Trey loved all people, and he loved all dogs. Most of all, he loved me. Trey and I bonded intensely. He and I loved each other completely, and I was with him when he took his last breath. I am so grateful to have shared my home and my life with such a special little boy.
Trey is survived by his foster mom and his GSD foster brother, who love him more than words can ever express. He is survived by our Foster Coordinator, who loved Trey, and poured her heart into solving the medical mystery that was Trey. He is survived by our Intake Coordinator, who met a bedraggled little GSD at BARC, did the Intake testing on him, and chose not to leave him behind. Trey is survived by a member of our Fundraising committee, who conducted a fund raiser specifically for Trey, and worked so hard to generate the much needed funds that allowed us to search for answers to Trey's illness. Trey is survived by our Foster Mentor, and many other friends, who prayed faithfully for him, and kept believing for a miracle, right up until the very last day. If you are reading this, Trey is survived by you, a member of Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue.
Trey had a terrible life before we rescued him, but from the day he came into our group, he knew only love. Run free with the angels, sweet Trey! I know you are getting lots of petting and cuddles in Heaven.