We had spent the whole week last week trying to keep Lily alive!
Our sweet dog desperately needed to gain weight, as she has slipped from nearly 24 pounds two weeks ago to 15 pounds last week. The vet had made it clear that the weight loss had to stop, and so we spent the week trying to fatten her up by adding rice to her dog food and spoiling her with her favorite food on Earth;…sliced bread.The goal was to go in to the vets on Saturday and find that she was going to come through this.
I gave her a bath Friday night, trying to get the stink off of her from an unruly bladder, and help her to feel better. I then brushed her out...hand fed her a little bit of food before she refused more with a sly turn of the mouth every time I lifted my hand. ...and held and held her for about an hour before putting her to bed. She sat in my arms without a shiver or twist of any kind...contented till puppy angels took her to dream world, and as she drifted off to sleep, I could have sworn that she smiled.
Saturday morning I got her all wrapped and to the vets and she weighed in at about 12 and a half pounds...and felt so bad when I sat her down on the scale that she just dropped down on it...closed her eyes...and went motionless.
Then this prissy dog peed and just lay in it...unable or unwilling to try to move.
I scooped her up with her pee soaking into my clothes and rewrapped her in the towel I had brought her in, and we waited for the vet. As we waited, she got whiney and so I took her outside the vets office to lay on the grass in the sun.
Today was a Lily kind of day; cold in the 30s with crisp air and a light breeze;...and the sun beaming on my puppy.
She could no longer see;…the cataracts had taken her sight just a couple of weeks ago, but she lifted her nose a bit and turned her face into the light wind like a sea-craft turning into a gale, and her fur blew back and forth gently with the eddies.
I sat with her and shared the warmth of the sun and the bite of the cold, afraid of the worst and shivering not so much from the cold as from the fear of gonig back in and facing the doctor and whatever await us.
After a bit, I scooped her up, and we went back into the vets. In very short moments, we were ushered in to the back office and into the presence of the doctor , who took one look at Lily's face and got very serious.
I could tell that he could tell.
He did some blood work, and Lily came back with markers for complex diabetes. He talked to us about “key something-or- anothers”...and liver and kidney function… and shots for diabetes...and then he laid out the costs of hospital stays and interventions to try to get her back to the point where he’d even have a CHANCE of fully and fairly evaluating her.
Lily spent the whole time in my arms, her chin on my hand, trusting that her daddy would take care of her and that all would be well with the world tomorrow.
I then asked the vet "if this were your dog, what would you do?" He hesitated a bit, and said that if his wife were deciding, they'd try to save the dog, but that if he had to decide, he'd put his dog down and save her the intense trauma.
She is 12, and has lost half her body weight, and is so dehydrated that she is near delirious as she walked a bit here and there in the office.
He said he'd take his dog down if it were his dog, but it was certainly not his call to make, and who knew...maybe there was a longshot of a chance for a bit more time.
And of course, "not his call" translated to "my call."
Honestly, I wanted to throw all the money I had at her and tell this doctor that this dog has spent 12 years worshipping the ground I walk on, and followed me around the house step for step, always watching out for daddy. I wanted to tell him that my kids would be home for Christmas in a week, and needed to say goodbye to her first. I wanted to tell him that I love her, and that I just couldn't let her go.
But when I looked down at her; at how broken and sick she was, and how so very tired she was, I couldn’t say those things to him.
I told him I would want to hold her while he did it.
"Euthanasia, J D?"
"Yes please," not really believing that I could manage to say it out loud.
So I played God and signed the release form, and listened as they quickly went over the costs and explained the procedure.
A few minutes later, the doctor walked in with the overdose they use of medication that puts her to sleep temporarily most of the time, but that this time would transfer her to sleep for all time.
He asked if I had anything I wanted to say to her, or if I wanted time alone with her….and I held her a bit closer and cried a bit, and told her I love her.
Her head leaned onto my chest, and I believe she could feel my heart beating; and I know I could feel her little heart against my chest;...and then I nodded through some tears at the doctor, and the syringe went into the tube in her paw, and she twisted her head one more time to get comfortable...and then in seconds the breathing slowed and the heart slowed, and then there was neither.
Lily died in my arms.
They had a cardboard doggie casket, and I placed her in it with her towel, pulling the lid down over her; and carried her up and out of the back office to the lobby.
Other owners saw me walk out all weepy, and suddenly the room burst out in tears, nurses and patients and dogs whimpering...and as I got to the door three women urgently ran to get it for me, and helped me through as I could no longer see through my tears and sobs.
I drove Lily 20 miles north to my parents property, and buried her there under a crisp bright day where the sun could come out and shine on her always...surrounded by stripped bare trees and tall grass that she always enjoyed chewing on, but had browned for Christmas.
I took a single white birch branch and stuck it in the ground like a headstone, and stood over her for a bit.
Men aren’t supposed to cry like this, but all I could think about was that I had just buried a piece of myself I’d never get back. She had taken a piece of my heart with her.
I don't know...I guess I figure that God blesses the love between a dog and owner.
I miss her, but I know He blessed me with Lily.