Sunday, November 30, 2014
I knew it was time when he howled in pain at 6am yesterday morning.
Rascal had been coasting along for the last month or so. He was hopping around on three legs, but he was happy and wanted to go out for long walks and to eat his food and to keep wagging his tail at everyone he met. He was in a pretty good cycle, even though he needed to get up every night at least once to go out and poop. We were hopeful.
Two months ago, the vet said that they were mistaken: his tumour wasn't getting any smaller, as we had thought. We decided to put him on another type of chemo drug.
But it didn't work.
Last Friday, while he was still feeling well, I picked him up and gave him lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses... it was a happy day.
That night, he began to whimper as he lay in bed. He was restless and in pain, and he wanted to get up and go outside a lot. I noticed he was having trouble walking, even on his good leg. By morning, his walk was extremely awkward, and he couldn't hold himself up on the hardwood floors. I made a path with my blocking boards for him to walk around on so he wouldn't fall and hurt himself when he went from his bed to his dish.
He stopped eating on Wednesday. The pain continued, even with the new painkiller we got from the vet. He was quiet during the day, but he wasn't very comfortable at night.
He started eating again on Friday... he was hungry and thirsty, and we filled with hope.
Friday night and Saturday morning, he whimpered and cried.
And then he howled. And I knew.
He had an appointment at 11am, but we got ready and carried him in his bed into the car. We drove to the vet's office and waited for them to open at 8am. We knocked at the door at 8:01, just as they were switching on the "open" sign.
Adele was playing on the radio when we walked in. The hubby told them Rascal wasn't doing well, and the receptionist looked over and went off to find the vet to tell her we needed to see her. They hustled us into an examination room. The vet, a different one who I'd never met before, came in and looked at Rascal.
She knew as well.
She and the hubby talked through Rascal's history while I sat silently. Rascal was up on the table, doing the usual thing he does at the vet: pressing against one of us because he doesn't like the needles.
I didn't want him to be afraid.
She examined him, took his temperature, felt for the mass... discovered all of the things I knew to be true.
Nothing could be done.
She then did what she knew she should do: she kindly talked to us about the decision we had already made. Then she left us for a few minutes to think about this decision we had already made. Rascal whined and whimpered and moaned in pain some more, even while we held him.
I didn't want him to be afraid.
They took him away and put an IV into his arm. The vet tech was in tears when she carried him back in within his own bed. She and the others in the clinic all loved him, too.
He became quiet as the anaesthetic took hold. We stroked and petted him as he settled. He laid his head down. The vet asked the tech, who was weeping silently, to cradle his head while she finished the injection. She finished, and the tech rested his head on his bed.
He didn't look like he was dead. I told the hubby so when they left us alone. It disturbed me more than anything.
We went home. I looked outside and saw his footprints in the snow. I went into work... I'd been asked to come in. I figured it would be the best thing, to keep me going.
I cried secretly all day.
What are you supposed to do when your dog dies? Are you supposed to put his things away, throw out his dish, wipe him clean from your home? Or are you supposed to keep his things so that your heart breaks every time you see them? And what do you do about the guilt when you think about all of the things you can do now that you don't have a sick dog to look after?
I know it's for the best, that the pain is gone, and that we gave hm the best life we could. He was the best dog I could ever imagine.
But when I awoke in the middle of the night last night, I thought I could hear him. And my heart broke again. And I cried some more.
I want him back, for heaven's sake, I want him back. It's not fair, and I'm angry and sad and crying even more as I write this. I know this pain will dull someday, but I'm having trouble believing it right now.
The hubby is going out for part of today, and I'll be alone here, and I'm afraid to be alone. I'll keep thinking I can hear his tags jingling as he bops around the house. I think I might go out for a bit, take my knitting, have a coffee.
I know I'm supposed to end with some kind of wistful, hopeful, grateful thought. I'm grateful for the time we had with him. I remember turning to him one summer's day, lounging on the couch together, and saying, "I'm glad we got to be alive together at the same time." And I am. And I suppose that is what matters.
Goodnight, my baby.