Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Start of Goodbye

            It’s happening.  We’ve been waiting for it and knew the time was coming.  Our old girl, Sky, is feeling her age.  This morning we woke up to pitiful cries coming from the living room.  D usually gets up with the dogs, and it’s been getting earlier and earlier.  I told him this morning (at 4:30am) to put in his ear plugs and wait until five.  They need to learn one just does not get up at the crack of dawn when one goes to bed AFTER dark.  So he gets up at five (4:55) and goes downstairs to find our girl in a mess of pain.

Sometimes I feel like such an ogre. 

So he gives her an aspirin, lets them out, feeds them and then later comes upstairs to tell me that she is really sore.  We know that this has been coming.  She’s been very stiff in her hind legs for a while now and when she walks up steps her hind end actually hops.  Luckily she doesn’t have to use steps all the time.

She’s been incontinent off and on, and we know it’s not behavioral.  Last night she lost control and pooped a little in the house.  I told him when I went upstairs to bed.  We know this isn’t good and this is finally what prompted me to have my old dog, Jack, put down.  Not because I didn’t want to clean up messes – I would have forever, if he was happy, if his quality of life was good.  But he wasn’t happy and he was hanging around for me.  It was the hardest decision I ever made. 

Now the decision belongs to D.  Sky is his dog.  All I can do is let him know of my experiences.  I’ve had dogs and cats all my life.  Sky is his first dog and from the way she looks at him I believe she absolutely adores him. 

When I came downstairs to get ready to leave for work she got up and walked out to the kitchen to see me.  Her legs were so much stiffer than I’ve ever seen them and I was afraid she was going to fall over.  D wondered if maybe there were pills the vet could give her to make her comfortable, but I think a cortisone shot will make a difference.  He wonders if it’s his fault she has lost her muscle tone and is so frail.  I told him that some old dogs get fat, some lose weight, but they all get old and this is normal.  I told him it wasn’t his fault.  She cannot stay a puppy forever, no matter how little gray she sports. 

We’ve been lucky to have her as long as we have.  We know she is between 12 and 14 years old.  She was hit by a car when she was a puppy and within the last several years her back legs hurt when she exercises too much.  She loves to swim but she won’t stop once she’s in the water.  She’ll cry as she paddles but she won’t get out.  And she’ll bite at the bubbles until her tummy fills with water.  It breaks our hearts to keep her out of the water, but she’s so obsessive compulsive we can’t let her in for fear we won’t get her out.

If only they all went peacefully in their sleep.  I held a cat once while he was dying.  His lungs were filling up with fluid and there was nothing I could do but hold him and talk to him and pray it went quickly for him.  His family had abandoned him and he adopted me.  I never want to lose another animal like that.  I never want her to feel helpless and in pain and not in control of herself. 
This will be a hard summer of saying goodbye.  I hope we do her justice and make her as comfortable as she can be and I hope when the time comes he will know it was the only decision he could make for her.  And that it was the right decision.