As the years passed by, and with a totally empty nest, Emma became our child which we closely nurtured through all known phases of her development and care. Sure there were the regular trips to the vet for checkups, shots, shampoo and nail clipping. But as luck would have it, Emma fell victim to several afflictions, many of which were unique to her breed, not the least of which was loud snoring while sleeping. But she had hardly been in our home a month when she developed a hernia that we were told was qualification enough to return her to the breeder. However, my wife declared "no way", as the family bonds were already beginning to be formed. Fortunately, we were able to have the hernia fixed at the same time we had her spade. This duel surgery was followed the next year by a diagnosis of luxating patellae (back knees) that eventually required not one but two surgeries to fix, which meant two separate operations with both legs being wrapped in hot pink casts for several weeks. How she was able to get around during those many weeks of recuperation and also negotiate her crate which she loved to sleep in, is still a mystery, but no doubt it had to be part of that indomitable spirit built into her DNA first noticed upon her arrival as a young pup. And, finally, there were the eye problems which were initially diagnosed as glaucoma, resulting in her being scheduled to have one of those big black eyes that had turned cloudy at this point, removed. Literally on the day before that surgery we decided to get another opinion from an out of town canine ophthalmologist who immediately diagnosed her condition as Endothelial Cell Dystrophy, a condition again unique to Boston Terriers. He performed corrective surgery on the spot on one of her eyes, even though he had given us the option to have them both fixed at the same time. That recuperation involved antibiotic pills, eye drops several times a day and that dreaded dog collar to prevent further damage to her eye. Again, she never skipped a beat. Then several months later we repeated this same grueling process all over again on the second eye. It was during this period in her life that one of our beloved vet staff gave her the tag "Emma Dilemma".
While my wife and I accepted the fact that Emma was totally dependent upon us for every aspect of her life (i.e. love, affection, food, water, safe housing, recreation, etc.), I don't think either of us realized how much our attachment to her was slowly growing ever stronger day by day through those many years, even as she slowed down due to blindness, congestive heart failure and deafness in the last two years of her life, but through it all still showing that same spunk and spirit which had so endeared us to her from the beginning. I know I didn't, as her deteriorating condition including frequent incontinence in the last few months actually became very stressful to me. Like most pets, though, during that last month even she recognized her condition was worsening, as she began eating less and less until finally on Wednesday, June 13th, she quit eating anything, including her beloved treats. However, none of those signs prepared us for the end which began around 7:00pm that night when her little heart began to fail and she started gasping for breath. Both my wife and I had vowed we would never let her suffer, so thanks to a most compassionate and caring vet who had cared for Emma her entire life, she agreed to immediately meet us at her office and bring an end to Emma's life with grace and dignity, for which my wife and I shall always be grateful. Although our now empty and silent house has become almost unbearable, we both agree that Emma will most likely be our last dog, as the pain of loss is simply too great to endure again at this late stage in our lives. We'll just let our fond memories of her fill that void.