Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Last Night...

I had with my beloved dog, Sweetie, was Monday night. I haven't been able to write about it until now - if I can make it through it this time...As many of you know, Sweetie had been diagnosed with at least two kinds of cancer, both highly malignant and aggressive. After numerous conversations with our vet, and a specialist, we decided that the best course for Sweetie was to let her live out her days at home with us, and focus on the quality of her life, not the quantity.



Just to recap, the options were:

1. amputation of the cancerous leg, which would not CURE her since the cancer had already metastasized, but would be palliative. Since she has had bad hips for YEARS, this was not a good option for her;
2. not only would it have been hard on her hips, but she had developed immune-mediated thrombocytopenia a few years ago, a disease that almost killed her (her body turned on her own blood cells). She spent five days in ICU, and received two blood transfusions. We came very, very close to losing her then;
3. radiation. Again, this would only have been palliative, and the closest place she could have it done was several hours away. So, every week, we would have to drive to this city, have back to back treatments, then drive back home. The resulting time this would give her was not expected to be much longer than what we could already expect;
4. chemo. That would have required one and a half hour drive (each way) for treatment, and again, would not be curative, nor give her that much more time. Both would have had a LOT of nasty side effects as well.



So, we made the choice to not drag her all over creation for treatments that would not prolong her life that much longer, and would be very hard on her physically. It was an agonizing decision let her go, I have to say. We have had her for over ten years, and have been through so much with her. But her pain levels were increasing beyond the scope of the available pain meds, and the cancerous joint in her leg was becoming more enlarged. We feared a pathological fracture, which would have put her in excruciating pain until we could get to our vet's, an hour away. Even though she was still very alert, we knew the kinds of cancer she had were very painful to her. Sweetie had a pretty hard weekend last weekend. Hard as it was, still is, we knew it was time we let her go.

So on Tuesday, at noon, I took her into the vet's for the last time. My partner was out of town on business, so a dear friend, who had worked for my vet, came with me, even though she was supposed to be moving out of state that day. My favorite vet tech assisted my wonderful, loving, caring, and kind vet. My vet told me she would not have done anything differently than we had done had it been her dog. That meant more than I can say to hear from her. We spent quite some time with Sweetie before they administered the initial drugs used to calm them. My friend said that as I moved around Sweetie while the tech and vet worked with her, she would follow the sound of my voice. And then it was time. I stood in front of her, petting her, telling her how much I loved her and what a gift she has been to me. And then she was gone...

I still can't think, or write, apparently, about her without crying. She was a great dog, a faithful companion, utterly devoted to us, and I will miss her more than I can say.



Perhaps something to consider is that we never know when someone is suffering, from the loss of a loved one (human or pet), or has just lost their job, or ended a relationship, maybe just having a bad day, or not feeling well. Certainly it is hard to tell in this forum (i.e., the internet). It wouldn't hurt us to act with a little more kindness, maybe re-read that comment before submitting it, or taking a break from the computer altogether to appreciate what, and who, we have in our lives. Maybe we could just be a little gentler with each other. Just a thought...

10 comments:

georgiapeach said...

Amy, I am so sorry for your loss. A beloved pet is a member of the family, and you didn't have any good choices. I will keep you in my prayers.

Miss Becky said...

It is extraordinarily difficult to lose a beloved pet. They give their love so unconditionally. Faithful, loyal, always there for us when we need them. They just know. You have written a beautiful tribute to Sweetie, one which has brought tears to my eyes. She has discarded the physical, but will always be in your heart. May peace be with you.

SFIndie said...

Rev, I'm crying along with you. I'm so sorry for your loss. There's no question but that you did the right thing, the only thing, you could. Sweetie depended on you to make the hardest of decisions on her behalf, and to ensure she didn't live in pain. You gave her the greatest gift, the freedom of release from a physical body that no longer could support her spirit. She's now truly free in the best sense, running painlessly and joyously in the world beyond. Her love and devotion to you lives on. I have a feeling she'll visit now and then, just to check in! My deepest sympathies to you and your partner on the loss of Sweetie.

And I agree, we all need to be a little gentler with each other. I'll take your advice, step away from the computer, and cuddle with my boy (who's hanging in and apparently choosing to keep hanging around!)

bluelyon said...

Oh, Amy ...

I'm so sorry.

elise said...

Hi Rev Amy. You made the right decision. That doesn't make it any easier, I know. We had never had a pet euthanized until our cat, Woddie, got cancer.

We stayed with her and both cried. The vet and his assistant left us in the room with her and that was a kindness I appreciated so much.

It's odd, in a way, how the bonding happens between humans and other animals and how we become better people.

I watched "Seabiscuit" for the third time last night and one point of the narrative is powerful. His owner gave the country a chance to find some joy in the middle of the Depression and heal himself, the jockey, trainer and horse all because of the love of an animal.

I'm sad for your loss.

elise

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments. I apologize for the delay in acknowledging them. I am visiting my mom and family, bringing my mom's dog to visit her.

Yes, it is wonderful that she is now without pain, something she has not had for some time in her life (starting with her hips). She was always a trooper, though, and gave so much love, always unconditionally...

Elise, I am sorry for your loss, too. Since we moved to our new home, we have now lost four animals (2 greyhounds, one cat, and now Sweetie). It never, ever gets any easier, I have to say...

And what a great story Seabiscuit was - what a great horse. And there IS a real bond - I introduced a friend (a vet tech from my bet's) to my horse, and the others at the stables. She is smitten by the pony - how cute it that?

SF, I am glad you went and cuddled with your handsome boy.

Thank you, GAPeach, Miss Becky, SF, Elise and Bluelyon - your words mean so much...

Logistics Monster said...

Once again - words of wisdom from a master.

Rev - I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do.

Mahalo,
Diamond

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thank you so much, DT. I really appreciate your kind words, and your offer. Too kind...

Mary Ellen said...

Oh my gosh, Amy, I am so so so sorry for the loss of your beloved Sweetie!

After having to make that decision for four of my dogs, I know how difficult that is to do. I'm sorry I wasn't around earlier to tell you this...I'll be sending you an e-mail tonight. Again...I'm so sorry.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks so much, Mary Ellen. I really appreciate it. It's been a week now. I can almost write/talk abt her without getting teary...

Sweetie was our 4th pet loss since we built our house 3 yrs ago (2 greyhounds, within a month of each other, and my dear old cat I had gotten years ago in Boston). But I have to say, it does NOT get any easier. And there was just something special abt our Sweetie...

Thanks, ME.