Cherished pet remembered, mourned
It started like any other day at the office, although we had brought our own patient in, Jessie our old Sheltie dog. We have talked about her in the past. Jessie has congestive heart failure.
This last weekend, Jessie decided to raid the cat food left out the night before. It seems our felines ate their fill and left a small bit on the front sidewalk. The end result was a major case of the runs for Jessie, which affected her pancreas adversely, causing a fulminating hematorrhea.
For all else who skipped vet terminology 101, it means bloody stool. As her condition began to worsen, I became concerned and deciding to take her to our clinic for appropriate care.
Jessie was dehydrated and had lost her usual zeal. Her gums were pale and dry. Her heart was affected also, as she had an increased heart rate. Her rear end was foul smelling and stained by the runny feces. We set an IV catheter in her tiny little vein and began fluid replacement therapy. She was given antibiotic therapy to stem the diarrhea.
After a while, Jessie seemed to stabilize, but her blood count showed she had lost precious red blood cells and hemoglobin. This was why she had weakened. We observed her throughout the day, tucked her into bed, and left her overnight to rest. Both my wife and I knew heroics were not in the plan as she was obviously at the end of her journey. She was comfortable for now, I could tell in the gaze she gave me before I turned out the lights to the kennel ward.
In the morning, we could tell her diarrhea had continued to worsen. My wife decided to bathe her to cleanse her soiled rear end. After a bath that normally would not have been a trauma to a normal dog, Jessie was winded and could not rise. Her breathing became rapid and shallow. My wife called me in to check her saying, "Matt...I think it's time..." I could see the emotion building in Lea's face. We both knew this day would come. Many times, I have answered my client's question of, "when do you know the right time to put them to sleep?" by saying they will tell or show you. Jessie was letting us know at this precise moment. Her eye spoke her request, "Let me go peacefully, Dad."
After giving Jessie an injection of euthanasia solution, she expired peacefully and without struggle. With her passing, a legacy of experiential moments floated to the surface of my mind's eye. I was not sad, although my wife shed many tears. I had a more melancholy emotion, attempting to look at the good memories I had with this wonderful canine friend. I had never had a dog this long, having many a good dog expire before their geriatric days set in. We will certainly miss our old girl's characteristic "Sheltie bark" and her undying love to fetch anything from a ball to Frisbee.
Already, our remaining two dogs have moved in on Jessie's vacancy in our hearts. Our border collie, Susie, now is trained to retrieve the morning paper. I watched her haul in the Sunday newspaper this last week as Lea commanded her through the 100-yard retrieval. Susie met me at my car door tonight after work with that cold collie nose under my arm, beckoning me to pet her.
Mini, the rat terrier - or rat terrorist as she is referred to - still up to no good, harassing our two felines to scurry for cover at a moment's notice. But, once in a while, I hear a almost ghostly spirit of a barking angel as my heart imagines that old girl, circling the crowd.
Yes, Jessie's spirit will dwell with us always, as all the past dear furry friends have. Where do all good dogs go? Why everyone knows that--to "doggy heaven." Certainly, Jessie is charming the saints on high, we should only hope. Thank you God for such a fine old hound.