Dianne Cole has used a phrase that many readers will want to use. She wrote this wonderfully expressive sentence to open her memorial honoring Cisco.
Throughout you will see photos of Cisco, his pals and the dog Dice -- not a replacement dog, but another Big, Black Dog taken into a home in honor of the Great Cisco.
Here are the details follwed by Dianne's tribute:
Cisco: March 3, 2001-July 6, 2015.
Cisco was my heart dog!! Any dog lover will understand this. I had four dogs, three now that Cisco has cross the Bridge, and love every one of them, but Cisco was that one special dog that had my heart above all else. He was a true ‘mama’s boy’ …never very far away from me when I was at home…almost always where he could at least keep an eye on me and even when he was outside he knew I was close by.
Fourth of July weekend, 2002, my 9-year-old Lab mix, Shadow, died from a fast growing stomach cancer. Doc, my 16 year old long-haired dachshund was nearing the end of his life, so we adopted Lady, a year old Yellow Lab/Red Heeler from the Dallas SPCA. However, at his advanced age of 16, sweet Doc only wanted to sleep and eat so wasn’t much of a companion for sweet Lady who needed to be kept active. Doc, at the age of 17 in the spring of 2003 passed in his sleep, and Lady was completely without a companion.
I’m a firm believer in always having two dogs to keep each other company, therefore, Lady needed a companion. I saw this beautiful black lab, Chris (as Cisco was known then), on the internet…He just pulled at me so I put in a call to the Black Lab rescue in Ennis. Chris was being fostered by a very nice couple in Ennis so my husband, Mike, and I took Lady to Ennis to meet Chris. The two got along great and I made arrangements to go pick Chris up a couple of days later when all the adoption papers were filled out and approved.
My Mom went with me to pick Chris up…what an adventure that was. Mom and I would put Chris in one back door of the car and he would just go right out the other door until we realized we needed to shut one door. After that he went right in, sat down and looked at us like, “Come on. I’m ready now.” Once I got Chris home, Lady seemed to take a strong dislike to him…she liked him fine until he was on her turf and then she wanted NO part of him. Also to make matters worse, my oldest son’s name is Chris and he was adamant that I couldn’t have a dog named Chris, so without making too much of a change I came up with the name Cisco…luckily, he adapted to it very quickly and it seemed to fit him.
Almost two weeks after bringing Cisco home, Lady was still not having any part of this new dog on her turf. Lady slept with us and Cisco so wanted to sleep on the bed too, but she would growl and snarl at him so he’d sleep on the floor on my side of the bed. One night Lady was sleeping up by my shoulders and Cisco decided to carefully crawl up on the bed one leg at a time. I was reading and watched the saga unfold…Lady was keeping a close eye on Cisco as he inched his way onto the bed. After he was fully on the bed he proceeded to lay down by my feet and Lady lay down and went to sleep. That was the moment when I realized that she had finally accepted him…when she didn’t chase him off the bed! From that day on they were BFF’s, partners in crime…though they had their differences on occasion, for the most part they got along great.
In 2003 Lady was two and Cisco had just turned one. They were a pair. We lived in a manufactured home in Crandall at the time on several acres. We had built a wheelchair ramp the previous year to assist my short legged Doc and installed a doggie door. Lady and Cisco could go in and out as they pleased when we were at work, but we soon learned that we needed to shut the door between the kitchen and laundry room. Before this realization hit, I can’t tell you how many times we came home from work to find throw pillows from the couch out in the back yard or sticks from outside laying in the living room. Because we never could get grass to grow well, we would end up with a muddy yard when it rained so we’d lock the doggie door and the dogs had full access to the rest of the house without incident. When the weather was nice the doggie door was open, the kitchen door was shut, but they could still get into the laundry room where they could stay warm or cool.
We moved into Mesquite in the spring of 2004 and that’s when I realized that Larry Powell and I were both from Texarkana, Texas, and had attended the same high school (he was a few years older than me though). I read Larry’s column, “Pets and Their People”, every Saturday in the Dallas Morning News. Larry and I became email friends and he actually featured me, Mike, Lady and Cisco in his “Pets and Their People” article. In the spring of 2005 in our little house close to Eastfield College where I worked we had lots of squirrels and stray cats. Cisco hated them all. Both the cats and squirrels learned very quickly NOT to come in our backyard…the cats just stayed away and the squirrels would either cross on the power lines or run across the top of the house.
Cisco did manage to catch a very brave squirrel that decided to cross on top of our 4 foot chain link fence one Saturday. By this time Abby, my black lab mix that I bought in the Walmart parking lot Thanksgiving weekend 2004, had joined our family. Lady, Abby, Cisco and I were sitting on our patio…Cisco was laying by my chair and in an instant he was across the backyard and leaped up to grab the poor, unsuspecting squirrel off the fence. I was screaming and Lady and Abby were barking. I managed to get Cisco to drop the squirrel, who managed to get back onto the fence and scamper off, but something tells me the squirrel did not survive his run-in with Cisco.
In 2006 we built a house in Heartland, Texas, where we are today. Because it is a new subdivision south of Forney, off of I-20, there are no large trees, but that didn’t keep Cisco from walking around the backyard, looking up into the sky and barking at every bird that dared fly over “his” yard. In the spring of 2012 four small dogs were dumped close to where I work at Mountain View College. A good friend and I caught three of them very fast, but it took me 4-1/2 months to catch my Lil’ Bit. I didn’t originally plan to keep Lil’ Bit, but after that length of time she had bonded with me so she joined our pack of three big lab mixes. Even though Lil’ Bit only weighs 15 pounds and was just 7 months old according to my vet, she has always acted as big as the Labs and she and Cisco became great friends…often to be found cuddled up together.
Cisco was a “talker” and often carried on long conversations with his Daddy when Mike came home from work at night. Mike would ask him how things were and he’d just woo-woo and growl his answers and look over at me to corroborate his story. I accused him of being a tattle tale. He’d talk to my Mom when she would come visit, but he never really carried on conversations with me…he was just my “shadow” and stayed close by at all times.
Cisco took care of his girls. He was always the first one out the back door, announcing to the world…with his wonderful, deep bark… that he and his girls were on their way outside. Mike liked to refer to the dogs as “the nosy neighbors” because they always liked to look through the fence into our neighbor’s backyards. He and Lady always slept with us until Lady, at the ripe old age of 12, realized she could no longer jump up on the bed. That freed up lots of space for Cisco, but he almost always slept right up next to me. About a year ago he tried jumping on the bed one night and just couldn’t make so from then on he opted to sleep on a doggy bed down by my side. Almost every night he would sit by the side of the bed until I loved on him and then he would lay down and go to sleep. Every morning he would come into the bathroom and sit by me while I put my makeup on. I’d wrap my arms around his big black neck and tell him how much I loved him…that always made him happy and he would be on his way.
One Saturday in early April, 2015, I spent a lot of time outside with the dogs brushing their winter coats. Cisco seemed to be fine, but early the following Monday morning I noticed that the fur on his back left leg was ruffled and after further inspection I found a rather large, liquid, squishy sack on the back of his leg. I took him to the vet that very afternoon where Dr. Burt did a needle aspiration…he thought it was probably cancer, but couldn’t be sure until the results came back from the lab. Unfortunately, the lab results came back with a diagnosis of mast cell cancer. After much discussion, Dr. Burt, Mike and I decided that due to Cisco’s advanced age surgery wasn’t an option and, as Dr. Burt explained, Cisco was nearing his normal life span…13 for a 75 pound lab was OLD. Our option was to make sure Cisco didn’t suffer and was happy.
Cisco was happy and in absolutely NO pain. We started him on prednisone hoping to shrink the tumor…it did. However, at the end of May his breathing became labored and I worried that he was suffering or that the cancer had spread to his chest. Chest x-rays showed that his lungs were free of pneumonia and tumors. Dr. Burt suspected that he had laryngeal paralysis which often occurs in older, large breed dogs…the larynx becomes paralyzed making it hard to breath or eat, but the only way to be sure was to anesthetize him and that just wasn’t an option…for a complete diagnosis or surgery. At this point he still didn’t seem to be in any pain though maybe a bit uncomfortable. He continued to eat well and always appeared happy… he KNEW he was loved.
We took a week’s vacation in June. My Mom took care of the four dogs and they all did well. On Saturday, July 4, 2015, Mike left to go to Houston and would not be home until Wednesday. Cisco was his usual self that day. Cisco LOVED to eat and always did a little “happy” dance when it was meal time. He’d bounce on his two front paws from Abby’s bowl, over to Lady’s bowl and then over to his bowl. Each dog had their “own” place to eat and Lady and Abby would stand in their place until I put their bowl down. I always put Cisco’s bowl down last, but he’d always make sure his “girls” got their bowl first.
That Sunday morning, July 5th, Cisco didn’t want to eat, but after a little coaxing and hand feeding he finally ate his breakfast and kept it all down. By the time I got home from church that day at 11:30 a.m., the light was gone from his beautiful golden eyes. He wouldn’t get up and when he did he’d stand in the middle of the room with his head down like he didn’t know where he was. Most of the day he just lay by my chair while I cried. I KNEW in my heart that he was letting me know it was time to for me to help him Cross the Bridge. I cried all afternoon and Mike was devastated when he called from Houston that night…I told him it was time and I just didn’t think we could hold out till he got home on Wednesday. Cisco wouldn’t eat Sunday night and drank very little water throughout the day. I didn’t sleep much that night…I lay in bed crying while Cisco slept on his bed by my side. I selfishly prayed that he’d cross the Bridge in his sleep so I wouldn’t have to make the decision to let him go. I spent most of that night checking on him.
I stayed home Monday and called the vet’s office first thing to make the “dreaded” appointment. I spent the day crying and just being with “my boy”. I lay on the floor beside him, holding and stroking him…telling him what a good boy he had been and how much his daddy and I loved him…how much is Mam-Maw and Uncle Ricky loved him…how much Lady, Abby and Lil’ Bit loved him. He was a Big, Black Dog (BBD) that never wanted for anything in his life once he came to live with us.
Late that afternoon, Monday, July 6, 2015, my Mom came with me as moral support when I took Cisco for his final vet’s visit. He was so weak Mom had to help me get him into the car. Once in the backseat he seemed to rally…Cisco loved car rides…and I doubted myself…was I making the right decision for Cisco? I sat on the floor with him at the vet’s office and loved him while Dr. Burt gave him the first shot to help him relax and go to sleep…Cisco knew he was loved. From March 2015 to July he had lost 14 pounds though his eating had never diminished…the cancer was evidently inside his body was taking all the nutrients from his food. Approximately 15 minutes later Dr. Burt administered the “final” shot and within seconds my precious boy crossed over The Bridge taking a huge part of my heart with him. I LOVED him so much (still do). Dr. Burt was so wonderful and assured me that I had made the right decision…it was time. I sat with him long after he had crossed and leaving him there that day was the second hardest thing I had ever done…the first was having to “make” the decision to help him cross.
In all my years of owning a pet, I had NEVER had to make THE decision…I was always fortunate enough that my beloved dogs and cats had crossed in their own time.
Cisco was cremated and his ashes are now back at home with us where he
belongs. I still cry myself to sleep some nights, but try to
remember the good times…his big goofy grin; the way he’d saunter in front of me from room to room, but always turning to make sure I was behind him; his “happy” dance at meal times; standing in front of the TV so the remote wouldn’t work; how’d he come and sit by the bed at night and wait for me to love him and tell him “nite nite”; how he’d announce to the world that he and his girls were coming out; how he’d come sit by me each morning as I put my makeup on…so many wonderful memories of the BBD, Cisco,
Because of this wonderful BBD, Cisco, I have decided that I will always adopt/rescue a BIG, BLACK DOG. No dog can EVER replace my sweet Cisco, but in his honor, and since I first began writing this tribute to my sweet boy, we recently “rescued” a BBD that needed to be re-homed. Dice, is a one year old, Black Lab mix…mixed with what we don’t know for sure, but I suspect there is some Great Dane and Greyhound in her bloodline…it really doesn’t matter to us what she is mixed with…we love her. [LARRY ASIDE: You may have seen that photo on the left in emails appealing for adoptors or on Readlarrypowell.com when the dog needed a home. Yes, as you can see, Dice adjusted from riding in a car to enjoying her spot on the couch. Dianne says Dice's eyes are so black they don't show up in pictures!]
I know in my heart that Cisco is now running happy and carefree and that he sent Dice to us. He’s happy knowing that we are giving another BBD a good home…a good, loving home like he had with us for 12 wonderful years. Cisco, wherever you are, know that Mommy and Daddy loved you and will always love you sweet boy! The house is seems emptier and quieter with you gone. You are missed more than you will ever know!
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