Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pet Loss

Feeling slightly better today. I still don't feel human, but better.

I've been reading up on grieving over pets and the first step is being honest about your feelings. I feel guilty. Guilty that maybe I should have tried harder, been willing to get a second opinion, spent more, done more, stayed up all night with her more. I feel regretful that I did not do those things. I feel regretful about the decision that I made. I mean yes, I made the decision with the support of the veterinarian and everyone else that knew Alaska. But.. as soon as I said it, I felt my heart break and I immediately wanted to take it back... to beg, barter, borrow, and steal from the Lord for her health.. I feel saddened that she is not here. I feel lonely... she was my constant companion for so long. I feel angry at God that I prayed for her health and he didn't help me. I feel selfish... like I should have done more and didn't because it would inconvenience me. This last one is ridiculous... even as I write it, I know it. If there was ANYTHING I could have done to save her and make her healthy, I would have. I would have done whatever it took, whatever the vet suggested. I feel dirty... because that little dog with the sweet face trusted me so much and I took her trust and had her euthanized.

I knew she was getting sicker. She was losing weight. She was having trouble moving around. She was having trouble finding a way to lay down and get comfortable... even on extraordinary amounts of pain pills. Her little leg was swelling bigger and the infection in her butt was getting worse, regardless of the antibiotics. She would lay awake and whine and cry at night... and I would get up and sit with her. I would pet her little head, or pick her up and put her in her bed if she was laying on the floor. She would look at me with her sweet little face and I would pet her and talk to her until she fell asleep again. I knew it was only a matter of time. I was hoping that she would pass quietly in her sleep one night... at home, in her bed. I thought we could keep her comfortable on pain medicine until her time came.

I was not expecting this trip to the vet to be the last one. I had no idea that this would be the end. I know that all of the resources I've found said not to cry or it might upset your pet... unfortunately though, I could not help myself. Life without my little dog was and is too lonely for me to imagine. She used to follow me around the house and bleat like a little lamb at me. If ever there was another animal that was comparable to Alaska, it was a little white lamb. She was silent, except for her occasional bleating and when she dreamed... she would 'Boof' quietly in her sleep. She had the sweetest face... and eyes that always looked so innocent and trusting.

One of the first times I knew that I desperately loved this little dog  was the first time she did her little trick to get attention. It was right after we picked her up from the Bladen County Shelter. I was sitting on the couch and she came up to my leg and was wagging ecstatically, when I didn't pay her any attention, she sat down and patted me with one small, white furry paw. She would sort of wave it at me and pat me with it. Then, for good measure, she added the other front paw to the mix. So I was getting waved at and gently patted with two small white paws and being smiled at with a toothless little smile. Is it even possible not to love that?

I miss the way she would clean her little face... if ever there was a little dog who was born to be a lady, it was her.

We bonded through her first surgery to remove a bladder stone the size of an orange from her little bladder... and when she recovered, she was a new dog! She would go to the restroom in the mornings and RUN back to the house. Yep, RUN! Run as fast as her little legs would carry her with her little pink tongue hung out of her toothless mouth. Sometimes she would snorful around in the grass and roll around and play and she was so happy.

Then she got bitten by a diseased tick. Ehrlichiosis. Sadly, she never truly recovered. It attached her little aged joints and put her in chronic pain. We put her on pain medicine and physical therapy. We bought orthopedic dog beds for nearly every room in the house, and added a prescription diet.

She had another surgery on her bladder to biopsy it and take a tumor off of her eye. Everything came out normal... but my little dog was still not running and playing. About a month ago, she came down with doggie hemorrhoids, as a result of her being on so much pain medicine and it causing constipation. Also, one of her back legs was swollen. At the vets office, we added antibiotics, a laxative, and a topical spray to her list of medicine. We thought her leg was just fluid build up... more physical therapy was the prescription. I bought her a kiddie pool and a life jacket for her to swim in. She was not a fan of swimming, but she did enjoy laying in the sun to dry off.

Monday I noticed her licking herself a lot... so I took her to the groomer so that she could have her hiney shaved so that I could see what was going on, better apply medicine etc. Once the shaving started, we could tell that it was badly infected AND that she had started chewing on that back leg. So, I knew that the pain meds were not working and that it had been paining her.

So we sat in the waiting room at the vets office. Every time I got up, Alaska would try to head for the door to leave. Maybe she knew... I don't know. When we were called, we went back and sat in the exam room. I thought that they would just give her some stronger medicine... I had no idea that it would be so serious. But, sadly, her temperature was normal... meaning whatever was in her leg causing her pain was likely cancerous. To treat the infection in her hiney, they would have had to put her on something that would hinder her immune system, which would let the cancer run rampant and eat her alive. So it was either treat her hiney and let the cancer eat her, or treat the cancer and let her butt rot out from under her. My heart... broke. Into a million pieces. Here it was... the moment when I knew that I couldn't save her anymore. I couldn't make her happy anymore. I couldn't even keep her comfortable. The vet tried to console me: He told me that I had done more than any other owner that he had ever known. That I had done all that I could.

I signed the paper in a fog. I cried like a baby. I held my little dog and in those last moments, all I could think to tell her was that I am so sorry. The vet asked if I wanted to wait for my husband to get there. I shook when I told him No... to please go ahead and do it before I change my mind. Before I lose my courage. The nurse tried to comfort me... and I tried to be brave so not to upset my Alaska. I couldn't. She watched questioningly when he shaved her front leg for the shot. I pet her head while he started pushing it in. When he started to pull it out, she yelped and bugged her eyes out... like she was in pain or panicked. At the same moment, he said 'She's gone'. My knees came out from under me and I sank to the floor where I continued to rock and cry. To their credit, they did what they needed to do. They removed Alaska in case she made any more noises, took her in the back, closed her eyes, and settled her into her bag and into her box/coffin. They even marked which end was her head. Meanwhile, the nurse came back in and held me while I cried. She told me that Alaska never felt it... that it was just her letting out all the air in her body and that sometimes the way that their muscles contort makes it look painful. I was inconsolable. She told me that I had done all I could do... all that anyone could ever do and offered to carry Alaska out for me. I gave her the keys to my truck and she placed Alaska in the floor right where she had lain so many countless other times we had ridden around.

I barely remember paying the bill. Or the ride home. Or posting it on facebook. Or the family and friends that called. I remember going to buy her headstone... it reads "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever". Perfect.

We buried her next to CJ under the Bradford Pear tree.

Since then, I have cried. And cried. And cried. I've reached out to people as often as I feel that I can, but more often than not I just want to lay in my bed and be snuggled by Mr. Belle and cry.

Now, I'm sitting her blogging... and crying some more. Today is my 24th birthday and all I want is my little dog back and healthy.

Sweet Tea and Cookie's, Ya'll.
Mrs. Belle


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