VILLAGE PET PAGES
By Joy and Brian Pape
Lexi, Rochelle and Lola
One morning, walking on Hudson River’s Pier 45, two dogs caught our eyes and our hearts. We saw a man, Lloyd, pushing Rochelle, an elderly dog in a stroller. He was also walking Lola, a younger looking dog, on a leash.
We talk of saying good-bye but never forgetting about our beloved pets and we write of saying hello to the new ones in the Village. This month, we want to share a story about change. Just like people, our pets change over the years. They can’t tell us in words how they feel, but their owners can. Here’s Lloyd’s story of Lexi, Rochelle and Lola.
Rochelle’s story really started with Lexi, the dog Lloyd had before Rochelle. He wanted a friend for Lexi, so he went to the Animal Care Center on East 110th Street to choose a rescue. That’s when, as he said, “I didn’t choose Rochelle, she chose me.”
Rochelle was two at the time, a year younger than Lexi, but they became the best of friends, romped and played together. At around eight years old, Lexi developed a tumor in her rib cage and was diagnosed with bone cancer. A few ribs were removed and Lexi underwent chemotherapy, intended to keep her comfortable and to prolong her life for just a little while longer. A few months passed, and then a few more. The chemo treatments ended after eight months, and after a year Lexi was still fine. The hospital workers began calling her the Miracle Dog. She lived another four years before the cancer returned, this time in one of her front legs. The leg was amputated and Lexi adapted well to being what’s known as a “tripod” dog.
After about six months, she started having seizures and Lloyd knew the time was coming to make that decision about keeping Lexi alive for him, or letting Lexi go in peace. While Lexi stayed at the hospital overnight, Lloyd did something that might seem peculiar. He began cleaning up his entire apartment. “I think I knew the end was near, and I knew that if she died, I would just want to lay in bed and cry, so I wanted to clean my apartment to be a comfortable place for mourning.”
Lloyd then got the dreaded call from Lexi’s vet who was worried about Lexi’s quality of life and raised the option of putting her to sleep. “I had to balance what her quality of life would be, my wanting to keep her, and concern for Rochelle being without her. I chose comfort for Lexi. I think every owner needs to come up with what they think is best,” he said.
After Lexi passed, Lloyd and Rochelle went to Pier 45, Lexi and Rochelle’s favorite place. “We released her ashes at the edge of the water,” he said. “Having faced this with Lexi, I’m now facing that with Rochelle. I’d probably do the same, let her be comfortable.”
It was obvious to Lloyd that Rochelle missed Lexi. Just about that time, Lloyd’s friend moved back to NYC from CA. He had just rescued a Husky, Lola, and needed someone to help care for her. Lloyd and Rochelle took on that position. Rochelle and Lola became the best of friends. They loved playing together and going to Pier 45.
Then, Rochelle starting having arthritis pain. She is under a vet’s care for medication for the pain, which seems to help, but she’s not very active anymore. The two of them can’t run around together, but they do cuddle and Lola is very gentle with her, giving her kisses.
Rochelle may also be experiencing hearing loss. She used to bark whenever the door buzzer went off, but she doesn’t do that as much these days. Lloyd used to be annoyed when she barked every time the buzzer rang, but he now misses that bark.
Lloyd told us that Rochelle’s favorite foods are carrots and ice. She likes cold and crunchy. She also likes the crunchy leaves that fall in the cooler weather.
Lloyd speaks of having a dog for years, watching the changes and tough decisions one has to make. He said, “I think about that. Not just about my dogs but also about me. That’s what happens in life.
We change and in many ways are not the same as we were years ago.”