Saturday, March 10, 2007

Very sad times here

My sweet Wilson Wolfhound was euthanized early in the morning of February 17. He had become suddenly and acutely ill; I suspected heart failure or pneumonia. The vets found a foreign body in his stomach, aspiration pneumonia, and possibly more problems with the stomach. They wanted to take him into surgery, and I had a very bad feeling--I just couldn't do it this time. He went so peacefully, in my arms. It all happened so fast that I was simply in shock, but I just had such a bad feeling, I couldn't choose otherwise for him.

A necropsy showed that his left-sided heart disease had progressed very rapidly since being diagnosed last June. He was, in fact, in left-sided congestive heart failure with pulmonary edema at time of death. The cardiologist who reviewed the pathology results noted that we might have pulled him through one more surgery, but that the heart disease itself was incurable and had progressed to a point where he had very little quality time left. He was only four and a half years old.

When he was diagnosed last summer, I had said to the cardiologist that perhaps he was wearing his heart out by loving; he was the sweetest, most affectionate, silliest dog imaginable and had friends all over. I have had to break the news of his passing to so many--to people in coffee shops, pet supply stores, and all over the neighborhood. He loved so many people and so many people loved him. He was, at a very difficult time, a significant connection for me to the goodness of life itself, and his loss has hit me hard. I was numb for the first couple of weeks or so, but that has worn off, and I think I could have WRITTEN the books about grieving that were assigned for my pastoral care class. Sometimes my arms literally ache with sadness, the realization that I will never hug him again. It is the price of love, this grieving, a part of life, a part of created reality.

After my darling was put down, I sat at the vets with a cup of coffee to gather myself for the lonely drive home. Suddenly I heard screaming at the entrance. The staff person at the desk had gone back to ICU, so I ran to the door to find a couple holding their limp dog and screaming for help. I quickly let them in; as quickly a vet ran forward and took the dog back to treatment to see if they could resuscitate it. I got the couple sitting down, brought kleenex and a wastebasket, and sat rubbing backs, listening, and prompting them to breathe as they screamed and sobbed. I knew what news they were going to get from the vet... their little old dog had, in fact, had a heart attack or stroke and was dead, died in their arms on the way. There was nothing they could have done, but oh how well I know the need to go through the "if-onlies." If I had gotten there sooner, etc. I hope it helped them that I was there.

Then I took my guy's leash and collars and went on home, to my little old dogs, whom I will be spoiling nonstop for the rest of their days. However many or few those are. Thank heavens for them; returning to a house with no dog at all would have been awful.

Graduation is in about twelve weeks, maybe less. Who knows what I'll do then? I was not selected for the residency I'd applied for, so job-hunting is going to be a major focus. I hope I can get hospice work, even part time, and cobble together enough to get on with. It's scary and sad as well, not having my big goofball to love and come home to. But all this will pass. I keep telling myself.


Blogger Hedwyg said...

{{{{{ You }}}}} Our furry companions are so much a part of us, aren't they? I lost a hedgehog last month, and even though she'd only been with us a few weeks, it was still very, very hard. My prayers and sympathies with you as you grieve.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Hot Cup Lutheran said...

oh. tough stuff. be gentle to yourself. For what it's worth - Martin Luther believed that they'd go to heaven. Dogs yes. (cats??? um I'm gonna have to say only some of them.) Mocha Java Puppy sighs for you on your loss.

8:54 PM  

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