My antique, one of a kind canine has come to the end of her life. She’s been in a long, slow decline since she hit her second decade, and we knew that she was lucky to have gone that far, as so few dogs get that much time. According to the SPCA when we adopted her in 1989 or 1990, they estimated her at 7 years old; do the math.
In the last two years she’s had a number of old person problems; a bit of an inability to know when she had to go outside, a move to sleeping more, and losing any interest in playing with toys or doing much that required too much energy. She became pretty fixated on Tania, and would do anything she could to be as close as humanly possible; shuffling about under her desk, waiting for manna to fall from Heaven. She hasn’t been able to jump up on the bed for a year; somehow take up an entire queen size bed; not bad for a little, 29 pound pooch.
In the last six months, her back; which was already causing her occasional pain; began to arch more drastically, and her hips started to really fail. Her back paws were now dragging on the pavement as she walked, and sometimes her back legs would just lock up, pitching her sideways into the bushes as she sniffed around outside. The look of confusion on her face when she stood up was sadly comic, and you couldn’t help but laugh… “I have no idea how that happened; that’s never happened to me before…”
She’s been in to the vet for kidney and liver testing in connection with her bed-wetting issues, but nothing definitive came from the tests, other than she was old, and so were her organs. She’s been to the vet for a fall about a year ago, when I got in her way when she tried to jump onto the bed; we feared had broken her back or hips; the way she screamed that night will haunt me…
She hasn’t even wanted to eat people food from us in the last couple days, and that’s when I really noticed that her sight appears to have failed her nearly completely after a number of years of cloudy eyes. Her hearing has been off in the mid ranges, and she hasn’t reacted to her own name in months; we’d have to whistle at a pretty high pitch to get her attention instead. She’d react to the whistling by invariably looking in the wrong direction.
I finally called the vet yesterday to ask the questions that I needed to ask about euthanasia. That call was one of the hardest calls I’ve had to make in my life; I had to admit that the bad days had completely squeezed out the good ones. She’s dehydrated and won’t drink, and she’s starving and not interested in eating. If she had the energy, I believe that she’d find a quiet place to lay down and let all the pain stop, but instead, she has to rely on me.
We have an appointment for 1:00pm with our vet, and I have a feeling that this time, Kandy will be much happier to be there than she ever has been before. One of my biggest rationalisations for not taking her in earlier in the week was that she hated the vet. Even stopping in to buy food there would incite panic attacks in the wee little beastie. She knew of it as the place with the cold steel tables, and the super cold things that they’d stick in her ass… these things did not make her a happy doggie.
Things that did make her happy over the years; people food, a good grey woolen sock; knotted for a good grip, sleeping on our bed; jumping in the second we get up in the morning, running running running when she was a young pup of 15, inappropriate sniffing of cats, the eating of things moldy and spoiled, chasing squirrels, chasing “invaders” in the house off of the property; but not until they’ve actually made it out of the yard safely, playing “PSSST! Where’s the kitty?”, and then there’s shedding. Shedding was one of her longest-lived hobbies, with the eating of composting mango skins a close second.
For the good memories, I think that her invasion of the compost heap will be with me always; “HEY! What are you eating! Get over here!” “You’ll never guess what I found! It’s a mango skin and it’s all mouldy, and it was just laying here like nobody wanted it! Can you believe it?” The look of utter enjoyment on her face, like she was already in Doggie Heaven where everything smells of pee or people food or rotting vegetables. Oh, she paid for the compost abuse with a week of bland food and a very upset stomach, but I think she felt it was a fair trade.
She knew all the standard dog tricks, and performed them with her own special trademarks. Her version of “playing dead” involved her laying on her back, one leg in the air, with her head off the ground, watching and waiting for the treat to drop. Well, she wouldn’t STAY that way, and she’d hop back up after a second, demanding satisfaction. She’s the dog who just wouldn’t stay dead. Her version of “roll over” started out pretty typical, but eventually involved her spinning around and around like she was chasing her tail, before, in a frenzy she’d recall what she was supposed to be doing, and like a break dancer, she’d drop her ass onto the linoleum, spin another half turn, and then flop on her side. At this point, she was way too excited by the possible treat that she’d be unable to perform the roll, and would be up again to hear the command “no no, roll OVER” and to react with more of the same. Eventually the laughing would stop, and she’d get her treat. She trained us, and yet we called her the dumb dog…
Update: Kandy didn’t flinch at all when we got to the vet; I don’t think she even woke up on the cab ride over. I’m glad that her last moments weren’t stressed further by the visit to the vet. She didn’t do any of the things that could happen when she was injected; she just stopped. She hated people touching her paws, and this she allowed. The shaving; the injecting; the bright red gauze applied to the injection site, all accepted without complaint.
The plunger wasn’t down all the way, and she simply stopped breathing; no gasps, no shudders, nothing that I had been warned of. I’m glad we stayed with her to the end, even if she may not have known we were there. She put up with so much from us stupid humans, and I’m glad she tolerated us as long as she did.