Tag Archives: penny

Journey.

Grief is an interesting journey. I don’t handle change well.

After a few “good” weeks in which the pain I felt over losing Penny has been manageable with few tears – it all came crashing down Tuesday night. I started sobbing and couldn’t stop it.

I’m grieivng more profoundly for the loss of my dog than I have humans that I’ve loved. The first person that I had a relationship with that died was my great aunt Helen when I was 11. I remember feeling that sick sweaty going to pass out feeling when we went to view her body. I spent what felt like an eternity in that room with my mom staring at her body convinced she was breathing.

I lost my great grandmother, whom I was very attached to a couple of years later. The loss of my dad’s mother whom I didn’t have much a relationship followed the next year. A man I knew in college who spent about 6 months asking me out shot himself while his girlfriend was 7 months pregnant. It was a tragedy and very hard to comprehend. We ended up being good friends despite my refusals. I was dating someone at the time or I might have considered it.

There have been losses in between but the most earth shattering was the loss of my grandfather in 2007.

Growing up I was incredibly close to him. At times we lived with them or very near them so he played a huge role in my life. I respected him and loved him. At times due to his alcoholism I hated him. He was a good man. He had dealt with cancer off and on but the last time when I saw him in September I just knew. His doctors had told my family 6 months to a year. But I knew. I found out I was pregnant with Katelyn 8 days before he died. I was so happy he knew about her and told my mom several times the day before he passed that he was going to be a great grandfather again. Sam is the only guy I’ve ever dated that he really liked and that always meant a lot to me too.

I feel like I had delayed grief when he died. Around the time of his funeral my hyperemesis morning sickness kicked in and I spent most of my days (and nights!) throwing up. I lost almost 30 pounds in my first trimester and I ended up so focused on trying to have a healthy baby that the sadness I felt at his passing was put on the back burner. In retrospect it was a good thing. I wish he would have had the chance to meet Katelyn. She would have had him wrapped around her finger and would have easily earned the title of “greatest” great grand baby  He joked with the rest of them at different times that they were the “greatest” and I know she would have been the favorite – because of course I’m the favorite grandchild…

The loss of Penny is different. I suppose it is harder to let go of someone that is with you every second you are home versus a family member that you love from a distance. It’s really shown me how profound her role was in my life. She and Miles saw me through some very rough patches and at one point probably saved my life. That’s a story I’ll save for another day. I’m appreciating Miles more. Although I had him before Penny I feel like I was bonded more to her. Perhaps it was because she was more of a snuggler and more in tune with my feelings and he’s always been my rough and tumble boy dog. But lately, he needs to snuggle as much as I need to snuggle. He will be 9 on October 15th. I am dreading it. It’s his first birthday without Penny.

I’m dreading the first snow too. She loved to run around like crazy in fresh snow and would sneak out on the deck to eat it. I’m dreading Christmas and pulling out her stocking. In many ways, I feel like I’ve lost a child. I was able to take her ashes out of that horribly offensive gift bag and they are sitting on the mantle now. The box she came in is cherry wood and actually really beautiful. I had shopped for urns before she was returned and found a few I liked but for now I feel at peace with what she’s in. We hadn’t planned on showing Katelyn her ashes because I wasn’t sure she could really grasp what it meant but she begged one night. I decided it was better for us to share them with her than her sneak in and open the box herself. I have never seen cremation ashes so my heart was in my throat when we all sat down to open the box.

They were beautiful. I don’t know if it’s true of all ashes, but hers almost have a rusty tint like her fur. I was just so glad to have my girl home no matter how she came home. Some day I think I’ll take them to our favorite spot in Lubbock and let her be totally free.

Lately I’ve found myself looking more at dogs available for adoption and not feeling revolted at the thought of bringing one home. Some day I know we’ll have another dog. No dog will ever replace Penny but I know she would be happy we saved a life like we saved hers.

And Miles needs a friend.

The past two days have been better and I’m thankful. This grief journey is exhausting. And enlightening. The one thing I do know is that when Penny found us, she took a big piece of my heart. And now that she’s gone, she’s left me with a big piece of hers and I am forever grateful for that.

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It isn’t always goodbye – is it?

Today has been the most painful of my life. Penny had an exeptional day yesterday. She went outside, she clicked through the house, she kissed my face.

At about 5 am the cat (the stray – the nicer of the two) woke me up by smacking my face several times. I heard coughing and found Penny on the floor a few feet away in the middle of a seizure.

I immediately laid by her side and told her I was there and that I loved her. She didn’t come out of it for about 30 minutes and I have no idea how long she seized before I got to her.

She never got back up. She turned away her favorite food and wouldn’t drink water out of my hand. She looked at me with more sadness in her eyes than I have ever seen. I had wanted a sign and I think that was it. Or at this point I have to tell myself that was it.

I took a shower sobbing and praying I would be strong enough to do the right thing.

I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror saying over and over “You can do this because you love her.”

I woke Sam up and told him it was time. We got Katelyn up and dressed and she loved on Penny who was totally unresponsive at that point. We got her to school.

And we took Penny to the vet. We had to wait forever and she stayed in my lap hardly moving. My mom met us at the vet. Sam had to leave to go to work and we waited some more.

We eventually got into a room and the vet looked at me and said “Not getting better is she.” I started sobbing asking if I was doing the right thing. I know he couldn’t tell me to do it but what he said was enough “You aren’t doing the wrong thing.”

Release forms were signed. End of life wishes were provided.

Then they came in. They made me step back. She hates the vet or anyone messing with her feet and she had a look of sheer terror in her eyes. I lunged for her, my mom held me. Once they got the medicine in they let me hold her. And within 5 seconds she was gone.

I’ve read that a dog who lets go that easily is ready and that it’s time. We stayed with her for about 10 minutes  She looked so peaceful on the table once it was over. And I felt a huge weight lift off of my chest.

I don’t know if I will ever not feel guilty about what happened today but I know I couldn’t live with myself if I held on to her for myself. My girl was gone weeks ago and glimmers of her may have been enough for me but that isn’t a good life. And I could not have ever rationalized putting her through another seizure. They have just gotten worse each time.

The house feels so empty. Miles goes from his spot, to her bed, to every room in the house. Right now he’s snuggled up on the couch with me. I know he is also grieving. He wasn’t even a year old when Penny came.

 

Penny chose me to be her momma. Today I chose to give Penny peace.

And I can only hope and pray I did the right thing, the best thing. And that she’s sunning her tummy at the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ll see you again some day Penny girl. Thank you for 8 wonderful years of unconditional love. I hope I loved you half as much as you loved me.

 

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The right thing to do.

Penny is still pacing at night. It finally occurred to me this morning that her “great” appetite is actually her forgetting that she just ate. That realization was pretty heart shattering. I have such a love/hate relationship with denial.

She’s keeping us up. She’s exhausting herself. Other than the random “who and where I am” moments she has, she looks like her old self. She’s put weight back on. She is up and down the stairs in one bound. Our biggest issue aside from the constant anxiety is the fact that all potty training skills have gone out the window. We can deal with that.

But my girl is gone. 

I will give the Anipryl more time. She’s not in any pain. But she’s not there either. Most of the time I think she has some recollection of who we are but probably not in a normal way. Sometimes she looks right through me. 

How do you ever know when it’s “time?” Is it fair of me to let her wander through the house until she gets exhausted and falls asleep where she stands? Anipryl can take up to 30 days to show full effects. She will start on her 15th day tomorrow.

I still cannot imagine life without my PB girl. I stopped crying and moping and started coping. I love on her and tell her how magical she is any time she will let me. But I am so scared she’s feeling trapped in her own body when I see the occasional flicker of hi, mom in her eyes. What a horrible way to be.

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Vestibular disease, and dogzheimers, and a brain tumor – oh my!

This blog is quickly turning into the journey of my Penny girl’s final days, weeks, months whatever the case may be.

After my tearful post last weekend we had a rough couple of days Monday and Tuesday. At one point I even called the vet to ask what exactly was required to set up an appointment to put her to sleep. Since we had no definite answers to what was causing her to go downhill so quickly I also spent most of my time when she was sleeping on Google. Because you know, Google is a fantastic diagnostic tool.

What I found was a vet on a message board (Texas Bow Hunters group none the less) who was sweet enough (or stupid enough) to give out his e-mail address to another distressed member of that group. I took a chance and messaged him. The basis of my e-mail was “how do you know when it’s time.”

It was a sniffly e-mail full of details from the past couple of weeks. He was very sweet and replied within minutes and eventually ended up calling me.

In between my e-mail and his response I got down in the floor with her and said “If you want to fight, I will fight.”

And just like that – she got up. I really think she was laying around waiting to die because I was walking around sobbing, waiting for her to die.

We went for a walk in the yard that day. She started eating again. She was still not barking or tail wagging but my girl was up.

Day by day, she became more herself. She started responding to her name. She growled at me when I bent down to pick her up to carry her up the stairs. She made it up by herself after a few attempts. I think the growl was a “back off mom, I can do it” growl as she’s never growled at me before. We’ve taken numerous walks down the block and though they prove exhausting for her, she lights up when she sees her leash. Her night pacing is still going on but she is managing to sleep at times. She even started tolerating Miles more which made me feel way better. He’s been so depressed.

Just as I was feeling more confident – she had another seizure. In true parent denial I was not convinced what happened last Friday was one. But yesterday morning definitely was. I had gone outside with Miles (the other dog child) and heard her tag clicking. I thought she had gotten stuck in a corner so I came inside to bail her out. I found her on the living room floor on her side. She was shaking violently and foam was coming out of her mouth. Thanks to Google I knew not to get anywhere near her mouth but did but my hand on her side and talked to her to let her know I was there. It only went on for about a minute but was earth shaking for me. I told Sam a few days prior if she was having seizures and had another one, then it would be time.

Except it isn’t Penny’s time. Immediately after the seizure she bounced up and went to get her new food dish. Katelyn donated a bowl she got at Sea World (looks like a whale, has a tail) because Penny can carry it in her mouth. She ate breakfast and walked normally.

Another call to the vet was made. He was quiet for a few minutes and he said “I’m pretty sure it’s a brain tumor.” Silence on my end. Dog dementia was horrible enough and I was coming to terms with it. Dementia is not a death sentence. A brain tumor probably is. We discussed options. MRI followed by radiation. We discussed her age and quality of life. The MRI alone at this point is dangerous because it requires anesthesia, as would every single radiation treatment. She clicked her little doxie toes over to where I was sitting and sat next to me. In my head I knew my answer already. Quality of life is much better than quantity. I advised we would just love on her and treat symptoms as needed. The vet said he felt that was the most loving decision.

Last night I took K over to visit her Papa, Granny and Great Aunt Sharon and tried to get Penny in the car. She tried to jump in once but gave up. She wouldn’t let me lift her in the car. We brought her back inside and I left feeling like I had abandoned her.

A week ago I would have felt awful refusing a  treatment option that might buy us a month or two. But when I woke up this morning and my heart did not feel like it was sinking – I know I made the best choice. I want Penny to enjoy the last days of her life. I don’t want her any sicker than she needs to be. I don’t want her to suffer the anxiety of repeat trips to the vet or me trying to cheer her on into the car to go. I want her to eat like crazy (her appetite has been insatiable the past few days – also a sign of brain tumor) and the girl cannot get enough of soft canned food. The Anipryl seems to be working miracles in her cognitive understanding of where and who she is. Of course we don’t know how long we’ll have. The vet said 3 – 6 months. Closer to 6 months with successful treatment. But we don’t know how long she’s had it. So. We’ll enjoy every day that she is enjoying.

She isn’t in any pain. She’s clicking through the house. She howled at a fire engine on Thursday and it was literally the first sound she’s made in two weeks. And it was beautiful.

My heart was broken at the though of losing her. But now that I know the reality of it – I’m enjoying every second of this beautiful baby.

We chose Miles. Penny chose us. And both of their coming home stories are beautiful in their own way. She’s always trusted me with her life and life is what I’ve chosen to give her. We will take it day by day and when she stops enjoying walks, ear scratches and attempting to sneak a bite of cat food – it will be time. And I will be strong enough. I have to be.

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