Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Losing a fur friend

This past weekend, Mother's Day, I lost a close family friend. Someone who always listened to me, if I shared my hopes & dreams, who was there for me all of the time,who offered comfort, as well as friendship,was a loving companion, and was just there, willing to accept whatever time I had to offer.
I know some people won't understand my loss, or my families loss. Others might think I'm crazy. But for anyone who shares a love for animals and their family pets, they will understand.
This past weekend our dog Casey came down sick. He continued to get worse, and wouldn't eat at all. What little fluid he managed to get down just came back up and I was worried about dehydration. Apparently that was a genuine concern. Apparently by the time we rushed him to an emergency vet clinic, he was dehydrated and in shock. His organs were starting to shut down and he was not doing very well at all. It doesn't take very long for this to happen when your pet is not keeping fluids down and it is difficult to force fluids into them if they won't drink on their own.
The on-call vet, which he had to be taken to was 25 miles away. They began working on him immediately and got him on IV & oxygen, and trying to stabalize him as they proceeded to do x-rays & blood work, and various tests to try and determine what was wrong with him. My husband and daughter had taken him in, and were finally told to go home as there wasn't anything they could do at that point by staying. There were several phone calls back and forth and eventually it was determined that he had cancer in the pancrease & liver that was spreading thro' the area and they really didn't feel there was a lot they could do for him. We decided we did not want to see him suffer, and with great difficulty, made the decision to have him put to sleep. My husband & daughter went back down, and were with him while the vet injected the medication to end his suffering. I wish I had the courage to go with them, but instead I fell apart emotionally and just broke down in tears. To add to my upset, the crying left me with a migraine and I spent the rest of the day in tears, and in bed.
I was pregnant with my youngest daughter when we got Casey 11 years ago. He was a cute little puppy, only 6 weeks old when we got him, and quickly fit into our family and lives. He loved to go for walks and to be with us. He usually slept in whatever room we were in, or came to lay beside us. He let us know when someone arrived home, or if there was someone at the door, or a few times when we had prowlers outside our home. The children grew up with him, and he was loved by us all. My husband felt he was his dog, the kids thought he was their's, and for me he was mine. He was a friend to us all, faithful & loving right to the end. He loved his food, and anyone else's that he could get, but there were certain things he seemed to look forward to. One of those things was fruit.If you were eating an apple or banana, or even picked one up he was right there waiting for a piece. This morning as I peeled my banana, I broke a piece off to share with him but he wasn't there to share it with. When I had an apple the other day, he wasn't there waiting for the last bite. When we get up in the morning, he's not there asking for his breakfast or to go out. When 5:00 pm arrives he's no longer here talking to me, reminding me that it's time for his food & pill. Funny how he seemed to know the time of day! For about a half hour he would pace back & forth, and look at us and bark to let us know it was time. No longer is he there at the door to greet us as we walk in the door after being out somewhere, or bugging to go outside.
Rattle his leash, or shake a bag out and put it in your pocket and he was right there in anticipation, waiting to go on a walk. Those are just some of the things that he did, and how he shared such a big part in our days.
We've had a few rough times when he was sick after eating something he shouldn't have, when we've had to rush him to the vet and leave him there for care. There were a few times when it was touch & go if he would make it, but our wonderful vet people somehow managed to save him for us. It wouldn't be the first time that I've sat by his side on the floor of the vets operating room waiting for him to open his eyes after an operation, and just sitting there petting him and talking to him, and letting him know how much I loved him and giving him a reason to keep on going. We were there with him as he suffered his first seizure, and as they started getting worse. During those times all we could do was sit by him and pet him and talk to him and let him know we were there and that he was going to be ok. We spent a lot of money looking after him and trying to keep him healthy & ok, but he gave us so much more in return.
This month he would have been 11 years old. I suppose if he hadn't developed cancer, there may have been more they could have done for him and perhaps he would still be here to share many more years with us. They often say that dog years are equivalent to 7 of our years. Well if that's true, I suppose that would make him about almost 77 years old. I'm not really sure if that's so, but I do know that the average age for dogs like him are around 12-15 years.
Casey is gone now and I can only hope that he is no longer suffering and that he's crossed the rainbow bridge for our pets and is up there running about with all the other family pets we've lost. He is gone, but certainly not forgotten and I know it's gonna take awhile for the heartache to ease and for the awful feeling of loss to lessen. Right now it is all too fresh, and I miss him terribly.
Our last dog, Cindy lived to be 18 years of age. She was definitely more my dog than anyone's, but certainly a special family companion. She did have a good life and when she had a stroke and lost the use of her back end, and could no longer get around we were forced to do what was best for her. Unfortunately we've also lost a few other pets early. The dog Casey replaced, Scottie, only lived to be 7 years old. He too had cancer, that showed up in the lymph glands in his neck and caused his face & neck to swell up so he was having problems breathing. It was an Easter weekend when he lost his life to this, just 11 years ago. Years before that we had also had a cat. Sampson only lived to be about 6 years old and took sick one Labour day weekend, and died. We felt he had been poisoned, but we were never sure.
Thankfully we still have our whippet Honey, and only a few years ago we decided to provide a home for a cat that we got from the humane society. Her name was Greta, and she was a lovely 8-10 month old tabby cat when we got her. It didnt' take her long to fit into our family or to make fast friends with Honey. Casey accepted & tolerated her, but I can't say they became fast friends.
Honey runs to the door when one of us comes in, and when she goes out she stands there looking as much to say "where's Casey?". They were friends & companions together. At least Honey & Greta still have one another.
Life goes on, and thankfully we are still blessed to have two special family pets to care for and love. Hopefully they will live longer, & healthier lives, and be around for many more years to come.

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