If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen some posts by me over the last 6 months about my dog having cancer. He has two different tumors–one around his heart and one in the lower lining of his stomach. Six months ago, we were told he’d have a month or two, and that hopefully the meds would help him to feel better.
They did! He was better than better–outside playing soccer and basketball, stealing the kids food from the table and even making a flying leap to snatch a Lemonade Girl Scout cookie. He was doing awesome. He gained weight, his coat looked beautiful, all the allergies he’d suffered from for the first 9 years of his life disappeared. He was the miracle dog.
And then overnight, everything changed.
When we returned from Thanksgiving, we found that his belly had bloated, like he’d eaten four dozen donuts. He wouldn’t lay down, he paced, he started vomiting and having diarrhea again. He’s lost interest in food (even the crazy expensive organic canned dog food I feed him!), though we’ve been able to entice him to eat cheese, ham and chicken (and Girl Scout Cookies!). I took him to the vet and they did x-rays. His tumors are bigger. Things are going down hill so fast. The vet gave us a few more meds to help. That night, he collapsed from exhaustion–since he wouldn’t lay down. The vet then gave us some pain meds for him. We figured out how to prop him up on pillows and cover him with blankets to get him to lay down for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, but that was it. Is it. Now his leg and foot are swelling up…
We were told at this point, he’s not going to get better, that we’re basically making him comfortable until its time to make THAT decision. But the thing is, he’s not comfortable. He’s in pain. He isn’t sleeping.
And yet today, when I came home from the store, he wagged his little nub tail like crazy. I bought him a toy and he actually played with it for five minutes.
So… he’s happy, even if he’s in pain?
How do you make the decision to put your dog to sleep forever when they still wag their tail when you walk into a room?
I grew up with dogs, dealt with their passage–I was sad, I cried, but this is different. This is MY puppy.
On Mother’s Day 2004, my husband took me to a boxer breeder’s house to pick up my baby. There were two puppies left–one sassy girl who kept biting my ankles, and then this adorable little puppy with the biggest underbite I’d ever seen. Already he was a tough guy. Being a Vin Diesel fan… I named my dog Diesel, cuz he’s a big tough guy. (Nicknames: Deez, Deezy-wheezy, Deez-nuts, and Doidle <–this last one coined by Princess#3 who couldn’t pronounce his name).
We brought him home and things were never the same again. I have had a love/hate relationship with this dawg. And he with me–you see, he gains enjoyment out of driving me crazy! lol
First, the hate: He tore apart my wedding bouquet that I’d carefully preserved. He ripped up a new pair of shoes (only once for some odd reason). He humped a giant Tigger doll which forced me to throw it away. He is a master escape artist–give him five minutes and he can dismantle any crate, he can open outdoor gates, can dig up a lead and yank it out of the yard, and he knows how to open doors, freaking genius. He was also an expert at opening the diaper genie…not pretty. He shredded the molding around a door in our new house. He’s never learned NOT to beg at the table. He snores LIKE A CHAMP causing me many sleepless nights. If he’s mad at me, he sh*ts in the house. He smears his slobber all over everything. He lifted his leg and PEED on me during the fireworks…Poor dog suffered from TERRIBLE allergies…the vet told us he was probably allergic to himself (which I could understand since I got hives from petting him sometimes). When I talk on the phone he stands behind me and barks. When I sit at my computer, he stands behind me and barks… Needless to say, there’s been a lot of hating going on.
BUT–he is the best damn dog I’ve ever had, and here’s the reasons why I love him so much: He’s a boss and he knows it. He is very loyal and protective–one time he head-butted a man out of the house. Coincidentally, the man was warning me that my deck was on fire. He is AMAZING with kids, and willing to dress up like a princess and play tea party. He loves to cuddle with the kids, and lay on my lap until my legs go numb. He is yard trained–he’d stay in the yard no need for an electric fence. He cleans up all the food under the table. We taught him to air lick kiss, so instead of slobbering your face, he licked the air around your face! Although, every once in awhile he’d make a leap in the air and get you right in the mouth! He makes the best faces–you can almost see what he’s thinking (I mirrored Frosty’s personality in THE HIGHLANDER’S CONQUEST after him). He is always glad to see me, no matter what. He loves to play ball–soccer, basketball, anything, he loves to run and jump and chase it with you. I love that he likes to hike and explore with us. He’s fun to play with. I love to watch him mangle his new “pets” when we give him stuffed animals. I love the way he finds any scrap of fabric
and lays on it–even socks, and how he finds the places in the house where the sun shines in to lay down and relax. I love that he follows me around, that he wants to be with me all the time. I love when we get in the car, he sits on a seat like all the humans and doesn’t think its weird. I love the way we could make him “speak” at us. I love his energy, his fascination with life and his never-ending optimism that we’re definitely going to give him whatever it is he wants, and he’s not afraid to bark at us until we do. I love that he isn’t allergic to chocolate, because lord knows he’s sneaked into plenty of candy boxes. I love the way, when he yawns sometimes, his lip gets stuck on his teeth and he ends up making this really funny face.
I hate that at some point I’m going to have to say goodbye.
And that point is coming quicker than I thought.
My dear friend’s aunt showed her this poem and she passed it on to me… It has helped me to feel better, but not 100%. I’m not ready to let go…
THE LAST BATTLE
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
**UPDATE** Thank you all so much for you kind words and support! It means the world to us. We sadly had to let go of Diesel on Friday. He was in so much pain. But we know he is in a much better place now–Rainbow Bridge. He’ll always be in our hearts, never forgotten.