Dog Gone Heartbreak

Athena came into the world on the first of April, 2011, waking me up to smells and sounds I had never before experienced.

Baby Athena

She was the last puppy to be born from her mama, Brandy, and her dad Ruger Sr. I named her “Athena Brooke.”

She got a good start in life under the watchful eyes of her Mom, Brandy, Dad, Ruger Sr., and Uncle Barkley.

The pine needle on her nose 😅

Having never raised a dog from a puppy, I had a lot of learning to do. Most of my friends had dogs and were happy to teach us. We hit the road on a cross-country trip before she was eight weeks old.

Before we left, she got her own Facebook page. She loved the trackball.

Athena managing the trackball

The first car she co-piloted was a BMW 525, but she would ride buses, trains, and many cars during her time as a public service companion. She was my favorite co-pilot.

Her Seat in the BMW

Athena made friends with little and big dogs, kittens, and even a few house bunnies.

When she was only nine months old, she showed her talents as a service companion.

I can lose most sensations below my waist suddenly, making it difficult to walk or stand.

When Athena was only nine months old, she sat at my feet and gently put me into the chair behind me.
We could not procure formal service-dog training for her, so I was unsure of her intent.
When I sat down, she seemed very pleased with herself.
Within five minutes, I lost all feeling in my legs.

Athena made her place in my life with this skill and many others. She has also calmed me and separated me from a situation when my PTSD acts up. She learned my triggers and gave notice to me when I needed help.

We lived in many vehicles in her life

The most important job she did for almost 12 years was to save my life. I couldn’t give up with her beside me.

Athena didn’t chase cats or rabbits, and if it looked like she was, you better look longer and watch the games they were playing together.

Her love for her fellow critter was deep: She even ended up adopting a kitten shortly after her litter of six was born.

Pixel, her kitten that nursed on her

My PTSD about medical interventions would cause me to delay having her “fixed.” Although I toyed with the idea of breeding her, I didn’t have the stability to consider that when Athena took matters into her paws.

On Sept 23, 2016, Athena woke up from an emergency c-section to six puppies.

She rose well to the challenge of motherhood, even nursing the kitten, Pixel.

Her whole litter, including the kitten, found good homes.

We were fortunate to be able to place 2 of the pup litter to be trained as service dogs for two veterans suffering from PTSD.

The kitten, Pixel, went to live with our friends Renae and Matt.

Athena loved to run and played like a puppy with the only pup left from the litter, which we kept and named after his grandfather.

Ruger Bear grew quickly

Athena loved the water and she was the head branch manager. Now the assistant branch manager will have to take her place.

I often teased that if it wasn’t for Ruger Bear, Athena and I would just be two old women laying around.

Athena experienced a few illnesses before the mass in her throat would take her from us on February 23, 2023. I was shocked when she recovered from on in the summer of 2020. I feel like the last 2 and a half years were bonus time.

In her prime

Never one to complain much, the only way we knew something was wrong was when she went off of her food. Her deep pit-bull bark that used to startle me, had also become a cough.

When we went to the vet, they discovered a large calcified mass in her throat.

I held her the night before while not sleeping…

I didn’t have the funding for extensive surgeries and recovery, and she was miserable.

She passed away while I held her at 3:40 pm, February 23, 2023.

Ruger Bear and I are in mourning. There will never be another Athena Brooke. She was our world.

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