Yesterday was a sad day. We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know quite when. Our 15 year old pug, Abby, has been with us since my husband and I first started dating. In fact, I gave Abby to him as a birthday gift when she was just 8 weeks old. So, she literally has been with us our entire relationship. She’s had some struggles and this winter she started kind of dragging her back leg and it would sort of turn in causing her to stumble. After a round of steroids she bounced right back until about a month ago.
It started gradually. I noticed that she would drag her front paw and sometimes stand on it wrong (called knuckling) which I knew from our last visit meant there was something neurological going on, not just arthritis. So again, we took her in, she got a round of mega steroids (incidentally it was the same mega steroid used for Zoe when she wouldn’t get off the vent). Much to the vet’s surprise she was up and walking around in a day or so. He couldn’t believe it as he fully expected that she would not walk again from that point.
She held up well for another two weeks when again it started gradually, dragging that front paw, sometimes walking sort of sideways, prone to stumbling. But, she still would try to run, didn’t seem to be in pain or sad so back to the vet we went. He gave her another round of the mega steroid but also hinted that continued use of this type of treatment was not recommended and that we needed to begin preparing ourselves for the fact that her time with us was limited.
She lasted another two weeks. When it happened again she did not get up from her blanket for over 24 hours. I had to carry her outside to use the bathroom, push on her bladder so the tee-tee would come out and hold up her back legs so she wouldn’t sit down in it. She couldn’t stand up to eat her food so the girls and I fed her out of the palms of our hands. When she wouldn’t drink I’d drop water in her mouth with a syringe. I made the appointment to take her to the vet to euthanize her. Richard had to take a half day off from work and I am not kidding when I tell you this…an hour before he got home Abby was up and walking around, almost normally! I couldn’t believe it!
We knew she wasn’t going to make some miraculous recovery and I wrestled that afternoon with the decision of whether or not to take her in. At ten minutes until the appointment time I called and cancelled. I just couldn’t do it. She wasn’t in pain, she was walking, she was eating…maybe we could have a few more days with her.
She gave us another week so we could feed her her two favorite foods…bacon and popcorn! We loved on her and even let her up on our bed for the first time in years! But she was beginning to be distressed when she could not make her body do what she wanted it to do. It was terrible to see her suffering and to know that cognitively she was ok.
I took her Friday, late afternoon, wrapped in a soft fleece blanket. I had to sit in the waiting room for about 15 minutes before we were called back and all around me were people with their puppies and dogs and I just prayed no one would ask me what we were there for. Inevitably a nice woman whose dog only needed its nails trimmed asked and I simply said “she’s very old and just can’t walk anymore”. The woman’s face dropped and said “Oh. I’m sorry.” I’m used to that though, when people ask how many kids I have or where the “third one is”, there’s no way around death. It is simply a part of life.
I was able to be with Zoe as the vet gave her the injection and she died very quickly. No pain, no distress. I hugged her and patted on her, talked to her and kissed her. The vet commented on how well taken care of she was, that she was so soft. He and the tech scratched her on the head and stroked her back. She definitely left our world feeling loved and that’s all I could really hope for. She was such a good dog. Always so sweet with the girls, especially considering she went from #1 to #4 (in terms of the “kids” in our home) when the babies were born.
When she was a puppy she was so tiny, I think she only weighed about 5 pounds and oh my goodness could she run! She would always sense when we were about to leave the house and she would run and hide under the futon way in the back where we couldn’t get her. In our rental house we had a rectangular living/dining room that had a doorway on either end of the back wall that led to the kitchen/breakfast room. She would literally outrun us, just doing lap after lap through those doorways until we finally would trap her between the two of us. Honestly, we had to factor in at least 15 minutes to our plans just to “wrangle” her in, to make sure were never late!
I miss her a lot and I’m sure I will miss her for a long time to come. She loved to be loved on and would pat my hand with her paw if I stopped scratching her and kind of moan and do a little internal squeaky bark kind of a noise so I’d start again.
We love you and will miss you sweet Abby.