This is the turn of events, please forgive grammatical errors and such, I have had very, very little sleep or food…
Rudy woke me at 12:50 this morning to go potty, I let her out, we both went back to bed and then next thing I knew she was there standing in the doorway with that look. I had called the emergency vet and since they’re open 24/7 they said I could bring her in anytime, and I was planning on daylight, but felt we needed to go.
The people there were very kind, they did an exam of Rudy and we approached the subject of euthanasia. The blood left the arm that was holding Rudy on the leash. But Rudy’s eyes were bright and her tail wagging so we decided to see if a liquid diet would work. Rudy was able to keep water down, just not solids.
They gave her an antacid shot as well as an appetite stimulant and offered her some Ensure-like stuff for dogs, and Science Diet liver pate. Rudy ate neither at first, then by the time we were ready to leave the clinic, she ate all the liver pate, I thought this was a good sign.
We were finished there around 3am I think, got back home and this time I laid down by Rudy. I had emailed Richard a couple of times, the last was please call if you’re awake. I think I called him at 5am his time, 4am here. I told him we broached the subject of putting her down but wanted to try one last thing. I’d wondered if I’d betrayed Rudy by bringing her back home. She had given me that look before 1am that she was ready.
I went to the store, bought baby food flavored like meat, cottage cheese, and beef broth. I tried liquefying a couple and Rudy would have nothing to do with them. Nothing I was trying was working. I felt she was listening to her body, I wanted her to eat, her body was telling her no more. This was excruciating to watch my dog, who I affectionally called, “my puppy vacuum” not eat at all.
I took her with me to the Post Office since she loves to go for rides and it was a beautiful sunshiny day, I picked up the package Richard sent and we came right back home. Rudy had eaten about half a can of tuna fish before we left (because the cats were swarming like vultures!) and when we returned, I opened up the box and it was peanut butter cookies. No wonder Rudy liked the smell of it as soon as I got it in the truck!
Once back at the house I parallel parked the truck to the house to make the passenger side just a little lower for Rudy to get out and in of, it was getting to where it was a real struggle for her to get into and out of the truck. She’s too heavy for me to lift, I’m afraid, especially since my last fall and injuries.
I called the vet knowing I needed to get her back in today, she had her moments but her bad moments were more and more painful to watch. I never heard a whimper, whine, cry, or anything, just a lot of discomfort and a depressed spirit. They would have to call me back, the vet was in an emergency. No problem, I said, there is no rush with this.
I opened the cookies and took a bite and then offered a small piece to Rudy. Much to my surprise and relief, she ate it and didn’t spit it out of her mouth or turn away like she did so many other things we’ve tried. That seemed to help her perk up.
The vet called and said they reviewed Rudy’s file, the doctor on duty early this morning spoke to the on-call doctor about Rudy’s condition and the agreed it would be fine to bring her in whenever I am ready. I laughed because I said I just took Rudy to the Post Office with me and she had gotten all excited about it, like her old self.
I’d have to say the ebbs and flows of an animal with Cancer are very, very difficult at best. The good moments, or return to old self are a joy, the bad moments, the times of watching her not eat and begin to thin, excruciating.
We went into the backyard for the first time in a long time and she played a little bit until she got that look of unfamiliarity with her toy. I knew it was time. She was at a good place, getting just a little strength so the last truck ride would be as pleasant as possible. I was both anxious and nauseous, oh what a tender heart will do at times like these.
I called the vet and asked if I could bring Rudy in now, I needed to do this before I lost my courage again, it’s time. I won’t say the Cancer won, but I will say it took her life. I will say I choose to believe love won.
The drive there was melancholy, although Rudy had just been energetic, she now laid down, had her eyes closed on the ride. I started tearing up and told myself to go to the places that scare me, to be present for Rudy because she is here right now and to love on her right now. Stroking her head helped divert my attention from my own body tightening up, difficulty breathing, etc. I kept telling myself to honor this moment, and to honor Rudy.
Again, the staff there is very straight forward, compassionate, and kind. They asked if I wanted to be with her and when I made the face of fear and said I’d heard bad things they told me it wasn’t like that there. Just as the early morning doctor had told me, it’s a peaceful, painless procedure.
I nodded my head – yes! I wanted to be there, Rudy has always been there for me. Everyone took their time, they let me decide when it was time, whether Rudy was on the floor or table, and only went ahead when I was ready. Very supportive environment for such a difficult, difficult task.
They took her out and inserted a catheter, I tried calling Richard. Just then my friend Kathleen called me to touch base, my cell phone battery was almost dead so we had to talk fast. She sent her loving support telling me she was with me.
I tried calling Richard a couple of times again, and only received his voicemail on his cell phone. I decided to turn my phone off since the battery was so low and it’s asked of folks in the exam rooms.
I had wanted to know about funeral plans for Rudy, Richard had emailed me today saying he was offering a place for her final resting place in Montana. I had to make a decision about what to do with her body, a private cremation is expensive, a group one (no ashes) is affordable, and taking her body would cost nothing.
I decided on group cremation, signed the paper and the vet tech came back in with Rudy. I asked for Rudy to be as comfortable as possible, this is about her, not me. The vet tech got a blanket and both Rudy and I got on the floor and left us alone, the vet would be in shortly.
I was offered as much time as I needed every step of the way. The vet came in, explained the procedure, waited on my questions, was very gentle and quiet. I told him Rudy was just like her old self at the clinic, but at home, she is tired, sleeping with her face to the wall, many times unresponsive. He said the excitement of the ride coming in, adrenaline, etc., was understood, but once she gets anywhere she’s much more comfortable lying down. I agreed, she’s tired.
When I was ready, he was ready. I laid down next to Rudy’s right side and stroked her head, telling her how much of a good girl she is, how much I love her, and said the phrase I always said anything I got her out of the vehicle, “Wait, I’ll get you on the other side.”
I okayed the muscle relaxant, that was followed with saline. Rudy’s eyes drooped a little more than they already had. I told her it was okay to just rest, to take it easy. She laid her head on her paws and her eyes remained half open.
The doctor asked if I was ready for the next step, when I was ready I gave the ok, kept petting and talking to her. I don’t know when her spirit left the room but this time, lying on the floor I felt the blood leave both my legs.
The doctor examined her and declared her passed, and then gave me as much time with her as I needed. I kept petting her, I’ve never been around the process of death or a dead animal before. He handed me some Kleenex and quietly left us together.
It was so hard, but also a relief in a way. I’ve been so scared for so long, I’ve been watching Rudy really hard to make sure she’s always breathing because I was afraid to find her dead, now it was strange to not see her breathe. It was an end, but also a freeing for her. Her quality of life suffered, she was miserable, depressed, sleeping all the time, never really her happy self.
I turned my cell phone back on again and surprisingly this time there were three battery bars, not the ‘low battery’ indicator or message. I called Richard to see if I could reach him again, he answered. I told him we just put Rudy down, and that’s when I really started to cry, hearing him cry.
We talked about burial plans, ideas, etc., and decided the path I’d chosen was the best. I shared with him the process, everything was peaceful, we were supported, Rudy went to sleep. It was her time. By the time we ended the conversation I’d forgotten all about the goofy cell phone battery. I purposely left her leash with her, I don’t know what I’d do with it, and the reminder, I think, would be too painful. Richard and I made sure each other was okay and then we hung up.
I wiped my tears, and quietly left Rudy’s body and thanked the gal at the front desk for their support, honoring and respecting all of us. I said I appreciated their mindful procedure and gentleness, taking time, etc. When she went to charge me, she told me there would only be one charge on my card, not the charge for the earlier visit’s exam, medications, etc. I think I said, “What in the world?!!” She repeated it and I said, “Bless your heart, thank you.”
I’m not sure which broke my heart most in all of this – the initial staggering diagnosis two and a half years ago, lack of finances to afford her the best of care, the treatment I could afford, the recent discovery of the large mass in her stomach, and then this final moment together.
I completely understand after so much heartache people choose to not have pets again. I can’t make that decision, I think all things considered, I would choose love. The connection with Rudy, the fun, the rides we went for, all the playing, all of her silly antics, I’d say that was heaven on earth…and I was NOT a dog person before I met her!
Perhaps I’m simply called to love the animals no one wants anymore. Rudy was returned to the pound twice and I told her, unless God says otherwise, we’re together for life. She would never see the pound again.
Certainly I deeply regret not having funds to have done more for Rudy, that in itself is probably the biggest heartbreak. It’s vital to take utmost care of my animals and with the changes in circumstances that also affected my animals, and that, my friends, is a lasting pain.
I would like to see more resources going to help people who love and honor the spirit of animals keep them than turn them over and over again to the pound or face euthenasia out of convenience. There is a population of loving disabled people who are lonely, need companionship, and reason to get up every day.
I think honestly, Rudy would have been putting her best paw forward as long as I kept asking her to try. Those eyes early this morning said, “Momma, help me go.”
Love in the beginning, love in the middle, love in the end