About three days ago, Boyd's health started rapidly declining. He stopped eating. He spent most of his time laying down. He began to have constant coughing spells, which were an increase from those he had been having for several months on a regular basis. He could barely stand and didn't do much moving or walking. He was unsteady on his feet, shaky, and just plain not well. Sometimes he would come over to me and sit and want to be petted and he would "smile" at me with his eyes. But I could tell he was not feeling well. Sometimes he would have spells like this, that would last a day and would then resolve. Sometimes it was weather related (he had bad arthritis and about five years ago we were told he likely had cancer (he had several colon polyps removed and also had some other lumps) and that he would likely not live another year.) Sometimes giving him an anti-inflammatory pill or a shot would help and he would be better the next day, back to his old self, chasing and panting and playing, jumping over the fence, etc. This time I was just waiting and hoping for that recovery, and it never came. He just got more miserable and thinner. he didn't touch his dog food, but eventually I did get him to eat some pork chop, and just this morning a taco salad :)
Yesterday Evan and I decided that it was time to call the vet, and we knew that it was likely his time to be put down. We had decided 5 years ago that he was old enough that we weren't going to put him through cancer treatments. We just wanted to live as long as his quality of life would allow. We knew this day was coming, but it wasn't easy. I was doing okay until I actually called to make the appointment. Then I just started crying uncontrollably and pretty much continued on and off throughout the afternoon and evening. Last night I was crying in bed and feeling terrible and not sleeping. I wanted to be near him. I went outside and put a sleeping bag on the ground and lay down with him. He put his head in my lap and despite his labored breathing, I felt him relax and enjoy the attention. I decided to bring him inside to lay in bed with me, like he used to do when he was a puppy, and I put a blanket down and he lay next to me. For the next hour he went through cycles of heavy breathing and coughing, and every ten minutes he would have a coughing fit and would struggle to stand and once the fit was over he would collapse onto the bed in a heap. I felt terrible for him. It was then that I knew that his time had come, and that he was in pain and needed to see the vet. I also knew that there was practically no chance that he would come back from the vet alive. It was a horrible feeling. I felt like I had failed him. I felt like I was his owner and I was never supposed to end his life. I cried and I petted him and I rubbed his ears. I rubbed his belly and massaged his legs through coughing fits. I tried to make him comfortable. And eventually I knew that he wanted to be on his own, and in his dog bed, so I carried him back outside for the night.
Today we took the kids to grandma's and Evan brought Boyd and picked me up and we went to the vet. Doc Smith said immediately that the cough he was having was signature of congestive heart failure, and that fluid was leaking into his lungs and also that his abdomen was filled with fluid. He had a lump under his chest. He didn't fight and the only time he walked was when a young girl came into the waiting room and he tried to walk to meet her. It broke my heart. Paula and Doc were wonderful. Paula is always so caring and I know that she practically feels your pain with each animal issue you have. Boyd didn't struggle when I carried him in and didn't fight or whine or panic when I put him on the table. He didn't fight when Doc shaved a spot in his leg and he didn't even flinch when the needle went into his leg. This was so unlike him, but he was so peaceful and he looked at us so knowingly, like he knew what was coming and he wasn't scared or upset or worried. Evan and I petted his head and I rubbed his ears. I just cried and cried. His eyes were saying everything to me. Telling me not to worry, that everything was okay. Fifteen years of looking at those eyes and you learn a lot about what a dog is thinking. He lay down easily and Paula gently lay him on his side. I petted him until doc confirmed that he was gone, and then petted him some more. He looked so happy, and peaceful. He didn't struggle to breathe anymore and there was no more coughing or shaking. Paula carried him out to the car for us and we wrapped him in the same sleeping bag that we had cuddled with the night before. I stayed in the car and cried while Evan went inside and took care of everything. I felt some relief that it was done, and peace that he had looked so sweet and so rested.... but so much sadness and grief that it was overwhelming. He was my first "baby" and now I had let him go.
I cried all the way home. Evan buried him at the farm. I didn't think I could be there. He said words that I wanted said, and wrapped him in his sleeping bag. I thought I was doing okay until I got home and saw the front gate open. I had that sickening feeling that you get when you know someone left the gate open and your dog got out. And then I realized that Boyd was never coming back and would never get out again. It was a terrible realization and I started crying all over again. All night I would cry over silly things like seeing his picture, or remembering times we had and things we did. I went outside to let the chickens out for a while and shooed one away from Boyd's full dog food bowl, telling it to get away from Boyd's food. Then I broke down all over again, realizing that he wasn't going to be eating it so what did it matter anymore? Looking at his doghouse, or his crate on the porch with his dog bed and his "babies" inside it. These things are just heartbreaking.
Ardyn cried and Marek has asked me a few times where Boyd is. As soon as Evan came home Marek asked "dadddy did you bury Boyd?" Oy. Ardyn found a picture of a dog in a coloring book and colored it. She also added her own drawings of a halo and wings to the dog. She gave it to me and said "look Mommy, Boyd's an angel!" Heartbreaking. over and over again.
When we told the kids that the vet had put Boyd to sleep, they asked to see him and say goodbye. We uncovered him and put the kids up in the back of the Durango with Boyd, on his blanket. They petted him and I petted him again and Ardyn and I each kissed his soft ears, just like I always have. It felt good to say goodbye again. I felt guilty that I hadn't carried his body outside myself. I felt guilty that I wasn't going to be there to bury him. But I knew that Evan would do everything just right.
Tonight I am so very sad, and my headache from crying is immense. I hope that each day gets easier and that we can find another dog to raise and love as our own.
|We Love You Boyd!|