It’s Mother’s Day and I’ve spend most of the day in tears. I ‘d been looking forward to it; even had some cool plans for spending the day with my daughters. Those plans went sideways shortly after breakfast.
I left my husband this week, a planned separation which took several months to execute thanks to our housing situation. As far as our daughters are concerned though, we’re still a team working together to make sure they’re happy and healthy. This week we’ve been ultra-focused on our daughters and the new adjustments.
With all our attention on our children, we didn’t pay much attention to the other members of our household.
When I got home from work on Thursday, I realized one of the dogs hadn’t eaten her breakfast. Not unusual, sometimes she leaves her food until late, so I wasn’t concerned. Friday night, she still hadn’t eaten. This time, I brought the black dog into the light in the kitchen, and took a good look at her. She was gaunt, ribs and spine sticking out alarmingly.
She clearly hadn’t eaten in days.
I called my ex and we agreed to flavor up her food with broth to get her to eat. We assumed it was stress from the separation. I sat, hand feeding the dog until she finally ate her food. Same deal on Saturday and again this morning. The gauntness was less pronounced, but I noticed other symptoms: a little bloating, weakness in one leg.
This morning, my ex came to get the girls for church. As he was petting her neck, he found it. A golf-ball sized lump hiding under her fur. Another closer to the other shoulder.
He took the girls to church while I took the dog to the vet. The emergency vet gave me her early findings. My 9-year old lab has Lymphatic Carcinoma. Cancer. X-rays indicate that it may have already spread to her organs, and possibly bones as well.
Some of you will read this and know the pain and horror I felt. Others, not so much.
It may just be the dog, but it’s my dog, one we raised (along with her litter-mate) as a rescue puppy. A pet who loves me unconditionally, knows when I’m sad and has comforted me upon many occasions. Knowing that I couldn’t put her through chemo brought me to tears.
If it really is cancer, the right, most humane decision is to put her down before she begins to suffer too much.
This cancer diagnosis capped the end of an incredibly horrible week.
A week which included leaving my husband and walking away from my daughters for the first time with the new custody sharing schedule. I kept telling myself it would be just a few days, just like a business trip. It wasn’t though. Being separated from them felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
A week where the bank finally approved our short sale, but gave us a short 30-day deadline to close escrow. A week that saw a solid, approved plan to move into a rental home go awry as the owners of the rental we’re moving into reneged on the deal at the last minute.
A week that ended with learning my daughters and I would be homeless come the 31st.
Ironically, the owners of the rental reneged because we had one too many dogs. A massive wave of guilt washed over me as I wondered if maybe this would allow the deal to go through.
I think the dog knows what’s coming. She’s been rather chipper since we got home from the vet. It’s prompting my 6-year old to try to convince me that the hard lump on her throat is smaller than before so that maybe she doesn’t have to die tomorrow. I’m in one of those horrible waiting periods where I want to convince myself that it’s just a bad infection, one which we can treat with antibiotics and TLC.
Maybe our regular vet will disagree and give us a different diagnosis. But, we have to be prepared for the worst.
Oh, my pretty puppy.
I am going to miss you.
May 15, 2011 at 11:37 am
It’s been a hard week. On Monday, the regular vet confirmed the diagnosis based on her physical exam, but couldn’t say it was 100% certain without a biopsy. Neither my ex or I was willing to move forward unless there was absolutely no way it could just be an infection. For our own peace of mind, we paid for the test.
Unfortunately, it confirmed what the vet had already told us, so we made the appointment to euthanize her on Friday.
Our daughters are fairly young, so they don’t quite internalize the magnitude of the event as much as their father and I do. As with the separation, they’re sad, but only moderately so.
My ex and I have been devastated. With everything piling on, this has been very hard to handle.
On Friday morning, the girls said goodbye, and I dropped them at school. Then my ex and I went to the vet, and held the dog as the drugs took effect. Held her as she laid her head down, and quickly stopped breathing.
It hurts, and there will always be reminders that one of our family is gone.
As with the decision to end my marriage, it was the right decision, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Oh honey I did this aug 24 with my yellow lab. It was so hard and I know how you feel. I know in my bones how you feel. If I could reach out and hug you I would. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I know it’s still raw but I hope it will get easier for you. Sending hugs.
JANA A says:
May 15, 2011 at 11:56 am
Oh, I’m so sorry, hon. We also had our dog put to sleep on Friday. It was hard. But she was so tired. I hope they are playing together on the Big Farm in the Sky, running and jumping and begging for treats. Sending you and your family much love. xoxo
May 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm
sending you much love. I applaud your courage to hold you as she passed away. I would hope I could do that, but I don’t know if I could be strong enough. I’m sure she appreciated it. take care, thinking of you.
May 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm
I’m sorry. For all your loss this week. (hugs)
May 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm
I am crying for you. I had to put one of my cats to sleep at the beginning of March and it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I’m so sorry. Sending you cyber hugs.
May 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Oh, my dear. <3
You made the best decision that you could, but I'm so sorry that you had to make it. Kudos to you for your courage in staying with her.
You're in my thoughts! *hugs*
May 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm
I’m so sorry to hear this – it brought tears to my eyes 🙁
My dogs are only 2 and 3 but I already dread their passing. Pets are an amazing source of love and comfort.
Sending big hugs to you and your girls xx
May 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm
Oh my. Sending hugs your way. We had to put my family dog to sleep a few weeks ago and it was horrible. That on top of everything else you have gone through is just so much. I just hope that you find some peace.
May 16, 2011 at 12:26 am
Oh, I’m sending you west coast Canadian hugs because that’s what I can offer. What a pile-on hard time.
This week I have heard this story, including yours and Jana’s, a total of 5 times. Strange how things happen. But the first two were through a blog I follow, whiteonricecouple.com, and on that post was a video which may be the most beautiful, poignant documentary about a man who has to put his beloved dog down.
All the best with the changes.
May 16, 2011 at 2:00 am
Oh honey, I am so sorry. What a truly shitty week. Lots of love coming your way.
May 16, 2011 at 4:22 am
Definitely one of those in the category who understands how horrible this is. I lost a dog in the middle of my last break up two years ago, and while I don’t miss the ex, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss my dog. I’m so, so sorry for your loss.
May 16, 2011 at 8:36 am
My heart is aching for you – what a horrible week. I’m so sorry. Hugs.
Oh, my dear. Please accept my deepest sympathies, along with a heartfelt Internet-hug. Euthanasia can be the kindest thing we can do for our pets when they get so sick, but oh, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to let them go. You did the right thing. I hope your heart heals and your situation improves markedly soon.
I’m just so sorry for your losses.
I’m so, so sorry. I always said I’d never euthanize an animal and then one day realized that it was the kindest thing to do for my precious dog whose cancer had riddled her little body. Your sweet puppy is a part of your family, and you did what was best for her, even though it broke your heart. I’m just so sorry.