Tag: euthanasia

Picking up the Pieces

There’s pain. I miss him terribly. The hole in my life is huge. Sometimes, out of the blue, it hits me: “THIS IS IT, he’s NEVER coming back” and I feel my heart start to pound; it’s hard to catch my breath. I feel like the grief is going to sweep me away and I struggle to repeat the mantra I learned so long ago with Bess, “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” Or, at least I try to, through the tears. “Why?” I whisper, “Why?” There is no answer.

spinone puppy
Enzo, 7 weeks old: so many hopes & dreams

There’s anger. I have lost three remarkable dogs in three years; one with each year. And the only one I am truly at peace with is Finn. He was 13 and had lived a rich, full, healthy life. He had never known an unkind hand, had never missed a meal. I feel robbed by both Bess’s death and Enzo’s. I didn’t have nearly long enough with Bess. Even though I know she had five wonderful years with me, she deserved more. And Enzo. Enzo wasn’t even four years old. He was in fact, three years and 7 months… to the day. I sometimes rage. It doesn’t help.

Then, there’s guilt. Should I have waited longer? Was there more I could have done? Did I really, truly exhaust all possible routes? Was there another medication I could have tried? And then I remember back to that horrible day: September 19, 2020. He cluster-seized so badly I had to administer rectal diazapam in order to stop the seizures to get him into the Jeep for transport to the emergency veterinarian. I don’t remember getting there. I just remember them coming out to whisk him away. It was COVID and I could not go with him. They took my boy and I remember being alone in the parking lot, sobbing uncontrollably… thinking I would never see him again. He was going to die and I would not be there with him.

And that’s the memory I flashed back to when he first seized after over six glorious, wonderful months–that’s what took control of my thoughts–the fear and the helplessness I felt that day, the violence of the seizures and what they did to him. The pain, my pain at not being able to say, good bye. And the abject terror that he would die alone, without me. When the clinic called and told me he was finally stable, when they told me I could bring him home… I was overjoyed, relieved, and so very thankful. When he saw me, he made this odd, heart-wrenching moan and flew to me. The vet tech had to let go of the leash. I dropped to my knees and just hugged him. He was worn out and looked like hell, but he was alive. We leaned into each other and all was right in the world.

That night, as I sat beside him on the floor while he lay, exhausted, on his bed, his magnificent head on my lap, I made a promise to him, a vow. I promised him that when it was time, it would be on OUR terms. I promised him we would take our last walk together and savor it; it would be a lovely, long one. We would share the last of the French Vanilla ice cream he loved for post-seizure. I promised him we would chat and I would stroke his glorious, velvet ears and laugh at his gigantic slippered feet. I would fluff out his ridiculous eyebrows and he could lay his water-soaked beard on my lap. There would be treats, no pain and no fear. He would know I was by his side. I promised him we would be together when it was time for good-bye.

So on April 20, 2021 when he had two grand mal seizures with a 5-minute respite between them, I told him I hadn’t forgotten my vow. But we still had time. Three days later, he had three grand mal seizures, but since they were spaced a few hours apart, I told him we still had time. But did we? I wasn’t sure. I asked the Universe for more time. I demanded more time. We had plans. We were back tracking in the fields and learning tricks for the Advanced title. He’d finally nailed “back up”. Yeah, it was crooked and wobbly, but when that boy backed up, he swaggered! He had panache. We’d worked hard on that trick and we were both damn proud of it.

And then a few minutes past midnight, on the morning of April 26, they kept coming… and coming. And I knew our time was up. I prayed I had not waited too long. I prayed for a respite before the vet arrived. And my prayers were answered. We had seven and a half hours together, free of seizures. We had our last, glorious walk… and I was able to keep all the promises I had made to my beloved boy. Every. Single. One.

Shattered

Barba Bagnata’s Ragazzo Dolche CGC, TKI, NW-TEAM 1

ENZO 09/26/17 – 04/26/21

We lost. Epilepsy won.

In time, I will find solace in the memories of the 204 glorious, seizure-free days we were granted before the Monster came raging back and took you. But right now, I am shattered.

Bess and Finn will be there waiting for you. Until we meet again my wonderful, kind, funny, sweet Boy; I love you.

I love you xo

Finnegan Moose

2007 – 2020

An easy, gentle, good natured boy. And the pain from saying good-bye to this beautiful old soul is enormous. I knew it was time; the rational part of my brain fully understood that this is the kindest act one can do for such a beloved dog- to be with him while he is gently eased from this world into the next. But my heart… oh my heart.

He was nearly 13 years old. My Chocolate Chunk. My Sausage Clown. My Finnegan Moose. He was my mountain, my rock, my ‘easy’ dog. He was my first hiking buddy, my first snowshoe companion. My first clicker-trained dog. He was my boy.

chocolate labrador retriever

I know he lived a great life- we are near a lake, so he swam and played fetch in the water often on hot summer days. We live on a dirt road in a rural area and have access to nearby woods and fields. So we hiked and took long, leisurely walks at least twice a day- early in the morning and every afternoon when I got home from school. I remember once when he was young… 9 months maybe? We happened upon three moose. They were blocking the path we would have normally taken to return home- a 5 minute walk from where we stood. I stopped cold- Moose can be unpredictable and I couldn’t tell through the trees if this was a Bull Moose with females or if they were all females. I wasn’t going to get closer to find out. Finn was up ahead and I think he spotted them the same time I did. He stopped dead, then turned to look at me. He was off leash. I bent down and started backing away, calling softly for him to come. He did. I was late for work that morning because we had to double back. That afternoon I stopped at our Feed Store and procured a Bear Bell. From then on, he was never without one, jangling merrily on his harness.

He was the first dog I ever owned that I found a dog walker for– eight hours was a long time to be left all alone. He quickly graduated from his crate and had full run of the kitchen because he was so trustworthy and well-behaved in the house. But was he perfect? Hell no. I still have a glasses case he customized with adolescent teeth marks. My mother-in-law is missing a perfectly good trowel that he stole from her gardening tote and ran off into the woods with–we searched high and low and never found it. I had to buy her another one. My husband made and installed a gate at the base of the stairs leading up to her in-law apartment above our garage. This, because Finn would climb up there to uproot flowers from her lovely pots that she had placed so carefully and artfully around her deck. I remember gardening out front, on more than one occasion, only to see him go flying by, clods of dirt and mangled marigolds hanging from his mouth. I’m not sure when we realized a gate would be cheaper than replacing her potted plants every 3 or 4 days, but I think it was soon.

He was the first dog I ever signed up with for formal dog training classes. I wanted so badly for him to earn his AKC Canine Good Citizen title. Did he? No… I simply could not tamp down his exuberant “jumping up to meet you” greeting when he was young. I should have tried again when he five years old…or was he six before he could finally sit calmly when greeting people?

He was my student dog when I enrolled in CATCH Canine Trainers Academy. By then he was nine years old. He was the first dog with which I used a clicker in order to shape a behavior- he had a glorious dead retrieve. He was an eager team mate and we had fun learning together. For one of the classes, I was to teach my student dog sit, down, recall, recall with distraction, sit/stay with distance, leave it, and go to mat from 5 feet away. Some of the behaviors he knew, but many he did not. As a family pet, he hadn’t been formally trained for any distance, distraction, or mat work. The day came for our evaluation. I was ready. He was doing an amazing job. My heart was bursting with pride. Then came our final behavior: recall past a distraction. The evaluator had me put Finn in a sit/stay and walk about 20 feet away. Then, she sprinkled kibble on the floor. Not a lot. But. Kibble. That was food. He was a Labrador Retriever. You know what happened. He came. He did. But first he hoovered up all the kibble. I was allowed a second go. My evaluator kindly asked me if I would like to take advantage and try again. Grinning and shaking my head, I replied, “No, he doesn’t need seconds, thank you.” She burst out laughing. We got a 94% and I was good with that.

I was blessed beyond measure with this dog. I am so very grateful to have had all those years with him. Yes, they flew by far too fast, but ohhh the memories. I have such wonderful memories. Thanks buddy; I love you. xo