Aimee, my wife, and I had to put Jane, aka Crinckles, aka Miss Barks-a-Lot down recently.
UPDATE: Thank you so much everybody for your kind words and thoughts. I was pretty busy hosting our Super Bowl party yesterday and didn't have time to check back to the computer. Thank you again!
She was a great dog for the time we had her. Sure she had her faults, but we all do and we loved her for them as much as for her strengths.
We first noticed something wrong with her Friday, November 14 when we were heading to San Diego for my sister's wonderful engagement surprise. We noticed her belly looked oddly swollen and seemed almost full, I could feel something sloshing around. But she was acting fine, like her normal self, so we just thought we'd keep an eye on it and hope it went away since vets in CA are expensive.
She continued to act fine throughout the next week, although her belly was still swollen, until Wednesday when she stopped eating as quickly and starting moving around slower than before.
By Friday, November 21, she'd gotten worse, hardly eating her food at all and acting completely out of character for her. So we made an appointment. The appointment was at 4:15 so I needed to take her as Aimee couldn't get off work that early. The vet was really nice, felt around and said it definitely felt like there was fluid in her belly that wasn't supposed to be there. So we went ahead and got some X-Rays done.
It seemed to take forever and when they brought Jane back I could tell the prognosis wasn't going to be good. The assistants wouldn't look me in the eye. The Dr. walked in and it was confirmed. There was definitely fluid in her belly and some large tumors in the general vicinity of her spleen. She had cancer.
We couldn't confirm it 100% without doing either ultrasound or biopsies on the tumors (the liquid in her belly distorted the X-Rays a bit), and to do that we'd have to go to the Pet Hospital down the road and prepare to spend a lot more money. So my options were to go to the Pet Hospital, put Jane through a bunch of tests and spend a lot of money for something that we were already pretty sure of and there's probably nothing we can do about, or take her home and enjoy the time with her that we can. The cancer was most likely malignant, the vet saw other tumors when looking at X-Rays of her chest too, so even with surgery and chemo she probably wouldn't have made it 6 months, a year at most. So I asked the vet what he would do if it was his dog and he said he'd probably just take her home and enjoy time with her.
I chose to take her home and enjoy the time we could with her.
Aimee knew the moment we walked in the door that something was wrong. My eyes were red from crying. It sucks knowing you're going to have to put your dog down. I'd had pets before but they were all taken care of by my parents and not really something I had to deal with. This was different.
So the next day, Saturday, we did something for her we'd always wanted to do, we took her and Mary to a dog park on the ocean. Unfortunately it was a cold day and pretty foggy, but I think she enjoyed being out and playing a bit in the water. She wasn't her old self, she was still moving around slower, but she was running around (slowly) and barking for me to throw the ball like she always used to.
That night we cooked some steak for her and bought her some canned, wet food. She ate some of both which made us feel great.
She seemed fine on Monday and Tuesday too, eating some canned food and walking around, although we could tell her breathing was becoming more labored. Tuesday night we took her and Mary to my softball game to get her outside, she enjoyed that too.
On Wednesday she stopped eating. We tried everything, wet food, dried food, people food, treats, she wanted none of it. She would just turn her head away and go back to lay down in her spot in the extra bathroom. We tried to make it more comfortable in there for her, with pillows and towels. She loved that bathroom for whatever reason.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and we had plans to go to a friends house. She wouldn't eat or go potty in the morning. We thought about blowing off our plans, but then decided it would be better to be around friends, and enjoy Thanksgiving, then home alone with her. Maybe this was selfish but I think we were both still hoping for some miracle and wanted to put some face of normalcy on everything. That night when we got home I tried to feed her some leftover turkey. She actually put it in her mouth, my heart leapt, but then she dropped it back out and laid her head back down and I knew that it was going to have to be tomorrow.
Aimee made the appointment for 3:30 Friday afternoon. She had to work that morning, but came home at noon to spend her last moments with Jane. Jane wouldn't leave her spot in the bathroom so we took turns laying down with her, petting her amazingly soft ears and looking into her pretty, but sad, brown eyes. As the clock moved slowly towards 3:30 we decided to just go ahead and leave at 3:00. There was no reason to delay the inevitable other than for our own selfish reasons to spend as much time with her as we could.
All through this we'd expected some reaction from Mary. Some indication that she knew something was wrong with her sister. But I don't know if she ever did. We walked them both outside so that Mary could potty and say bye to her sister. Jane still didn't potty so I walked Mary back inside. For the first time Mary gave an indication that she knew something weird was going on. She kept looking back over her shoulder and trying to get me to stop, wondering why Jane and Aimee weren't following us.
I helped Jane into the Jeep one last time. She stuck her nose out for a second like she used to then laid down, unable to support her weight and also compensate for the swaying of the jeep.
We got to the vet and the Dr. knew right away that it was time. Her gums were white, which meant severe internal bleeding. He explained to us that we had the option of staying with her through it all or leaving. She was going to get two shots, the first was a sedative and the second was the euthanasia agent. He gave us some time to think about it and we finally decided that we would stay through the sedative, but when she fell asleep we'd leave before the second shot. We just didn't think we could take it.
Well, Jane had other plans. After getting the sedative shot, she refused to go to sleep. She just laid there, with her eyes open, while we pet her. Petting her ears one last time, rubbing her swollen belly, we tried to soothe her to sleep but she just wouldn't. Perhaps she knew what was going on and wanted us there with her until the end. So we stayed.
The Dr. got down on the floor with us and put the catheter in her vein in her leg. He sat down, attached the syringe to the catheter, and talked with us all the while slowly depressing the plunger on the syringe. I watched as her belly slowed and her breathing became lighter and lighter. Finally, it stopped. It probably took 8 or 9 seconds in all, it was quick. She didn't make any last noises or movements, she just went to sleep.
The Dr. had to do a couple of checks to verify she was gone, then gave us some time alone with her. It was really hard knowing she was going, knowing her leash wasn't needed to guide her out of the vet, that she wouldn't need my help jumping in the back of the jeep. He returned and asked if we wanted to keep some whiskers or anything (perhaps for a future cloning procedure?) but we said no. I made a joke about wanting an ear, hoping he might realize that I was actually serious and tell me it was possible, but he treated it as a joke so I let it go. We left her there on the floor of the vet, she looked so peaceful and beautiful. We were really glad we stayed through the whole thing, hard as it was.
When we got home, Mary greeted us at the door. She looked around us and starting sniffing us and our shoes. We could tell she was looking for Jane. We didn't have any way to tell her she wasn't going to be back. She's handled it pretty well so far, although she'll whine now and again for no apparent reason.
We are handling it OK too. It's the little things that get you. Walking down the hallway and not hearing her tail bang on the bathtub like it used to, not seeing her stick her little head out around the corner of the bathroom door while we're watching TV, like she's just checking to make sure we're still there, feeding Mary and only preparing one bowl, seeing her purple leash on the floor in the closet because we just can't throw it away.
If you made it this far, thank you, it's been cathartic for me to write. I've included some pictures of her and her with Mary. For those of you with animals, give them an extra hug for Jane tonight and set a date to do that one thing with them you've always wanted to but never seem to find them time. For dog owners, take them to that dog park, on a walk, or on that trail you've always wanted to hike. For cat owners, hmmm, this is a hard one, buy yourself a laser pointer and mess with them. Everybody wins with that one!
September 2000 - November 28, 2008
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