Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All Dogs go to Heaven

I started this entry in the wee hours of the morning, (technically last night), while I was still very raw and emotional after losing one of my dogs to a sudden illness. I debated all day on whether I should even post this because it’s rather depressing! However, it was what poured from my soul last night and after giving it some thought, I’m going to. So, consider this your warning that it’s a sad read, but I also want to report that the entire family is doing much better this evening. We all five sat around earlier crying some more, but then our tears turned to laughter as we talked about some of the silly things Spencer would do. We even reminisced about our first family dog and what we missed about her. I’ll try to think of a happier topic in the coming days, but for now I will go ahead and let you pet lovers boo with me. I promise, we’re all doing much better tonight!

I wish this was going to be a funny, lighthearted post but sadly it’s not. It's going to be a real downer so you might want to just skip it. It's 3:30am and I’ve not yet slept a wink and the alarm will be sounding in three hours. I’ve cried a river but still can’t sleep. The kids were up past 1:30am and are staying home from school tomorrow. I had to make the decision to euthanize one of our dogs tonight and it was tough on all of us.

Spencer was fine earlier in the afternoon but when my son took dinner out at about 8:45pm, he didn't come running as usual. After installing the electric fence we’d only had a few episodes of him escaping so I walked out front and started whistling for him. My son soon called to me that he was in the back but wouldn’t come and eat. I walked around to the back of the house where he seemed to be hiding. He was at the water spicket, which we have set to drip when they drink and there was a lot of water saturated on the ground and he seemed to be sopping it up like crazy. When I called him he started walking towards me in a daze, so immediately obviously not himself and then he sort of sprawled to the ground and flipped over onto his side. He’d start to get up and it would happen again. I totally panicked. He’d sometimes manage to walk eight to ten feet at a time without the tumble, but just when I thought he might be getting better, he would regress and fall over again. His alert moments were short lived but gave me hope as I tried to figure out what could’ve happened to our dog. He was so thirsty and gulped down two small bowls of water then threw it up.

As I tended to the dog, my husband checked the fence and found a place where he could’ve gotten out and we initially suspected poisoning until I’d called a friend with a strong veterinary background and he told me it didn’t sound like the symptoms of poisoning but more like severe dehydration, from what we had no clue. I was crying as I tried to get him to act or feel normal and within the hour decided this warranted a visit to the animal emergency clinic. Who has the money to fork out for after hour’s care, but how can you just sit and watch your pet in such distress and only hope for improvement until morning? Even though he wasn't whimpering I just knew he was in bad shape and had to be suffering. My younger two kids and I prayed together shortly after we'd found him like this. We didn't want him to suffer and wanted him to be okay.

I’m not sure why I did, but the kids were too anxious and worried to sleep so I let them throw on some clothes and go with me. We had to lift the dog into the car and slide him on the sheets all the way in. In this short period of time he became so lethargic and non-responsive that I was prepared for the worst, but hoping I was wrong. My oldest daughter followed us from work to the clinic. We had to ask for help to get him inside and they brought a gurney out and took him in through the back.

I can't even begin to describe how proud and amazed I am at the way my children handled this very emotional drama. I’m still in awe of each one of them and so thankful they were with me, because as hard as it was for them to say goodbye and see their dog in such a state, I honestly don't think I could've handled it without them. We were working together as we weighed the grim options and went back and forth before making our final decision. I was told they could start IV’s and treatment on Spencer but he would require several days of hospitalization and medication, and depending on what point we’d caught the illness, he still might not make it. His blood was turning to “tar” and his system was shutting down. It’s got a name, three words that I can’t recall exactly but it was Hemorrhagic X X and they couldn’t tell us the exact cause, only speculated that he ingested something. (i.e. a plant, a mushroom, trash or bad food at some point) The cost for the treatment for just the one night would be six to seven hundred dollars and he would most certainly have needed to be hospitalized for a minimum of several days. He was in bad shape by the time we arrived at the clinic. The doctor gave me his opinion and was frank with me that I would be looking at a minimum of a thousand dollars. I hate to say that money played a role in my decision, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't. It played a role but wasn’t the deciding factor. There was a point when the kids each volunteered their own money to help fund the treatment and a point when I came so close to writing a check (thinking I'd deal with the financial strain later) and just saying go for it, do it, do whatever it takes, but after talking to our experienced friend again, and to the doctor a second time, the kids and I together agreed to say our goodbyes and let them end his suffering. It wasn't an easy decision by any means, and so hard to see them all trying to accept it and then have to say goodbye. They'd wheeled him into the room on a gurney to us and only once did he even lift his head. He had labored breathing, his eyes were closed and there was absolutely no response from him to us all petting his face and whispering that we loved him. He worsened even more in the five or ten minutes we spent with him and my oldest saw that his closed eyes were literally blood red and got very upset so I nudged them out and called them to go ahead and take him. We all sobbed and waited for them to bring him out to my car for the ride home where my husband was preparing his final resting spot in the backyard.

Yes, he was the alleged "ducknapper", very mischievous and always into something, but the most lovable, adorable, sweetest dog ever and we're going to miss him.


Ronni said...

What a difficult time for you!

I'm sure that everyone who has owned and loved a furry friend know exactly how you feel. Bless you for thinking about your dog's comfort and for raising such unselfish kids!

Anonymous said...

Man, that is sad.. We all love our pets! What a great group of understanding people you are responsible for! <3

ps.. All Lauren needs to do is sign back in to blogger and her page will return! She'll like the upgrade too!

Paul/dad/grandpa said...

Weve already talked but your story is something we can all relate to. Sorry you all had to go through this again--all I can add is Amen to Ronni's comment about 'our' children. thanks Ronni

teresa said...

Carri - I'm really sorry. Chyna (you know my white cat that I got right in college). He died last October after 17 wonderful years together. I can so empathise with you & your family. You were so brave to do the right thing & your children are learing bravery by your actions... I'm so proud of you for leading by example. Call me if you need to. I love you.

Darla said...

Oh, Carri, Steve Irwin, and now this! Just so sad. We've walked in those shoes and I know that it is not easy...so sorry to hear this!

Carri said...

Thanks, everyone! It's been sad. I wish I could forever forget the images of him dying and so sick.

We took Abby to the groomer and had her hair clipped short so she could come inside. It's been nice to have her around to love on. Imagine a German Shepherd with short, short hair. Pretty funny looking.