23 hours ago
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
It's taken me over a year to write this post. I'm still not sure I'm up for it, but at this point I know it won't ever be my best work, or the easiest to construct; certainly it won't be easy to read, ever. But, there you have it. Some of the most necessary writing is the worst to create. On the steps together are Argyle, Rory, and Fiona. It's one of the last times I was able to capture an image with the three of them. On January 29, 2015 Michael and I said farewell to Rory and Fi and sent them together on their journey to The Rainbow Bridge.
For any pet parent, the decision to do this is the worst. I call it the Hideous and Heroic Thing. Hideous because you are making the decision to end the pet's life. Heroic because, in all cases, the decision comes when you can almost hear your beloved pet whisper, "Oh thank you for loving me enough to end my suffering."
We decided to do it this way because Rory & Fiona had spent every day of their lives together after being born 10 days apart. Fiona was first and from the same sire different dam. Rory always looked to Fiona to tell them what they should do. I never once saw him question her authority. As they got older, if he didn't agree with her, he'd simply ignore her, but he never once challenged her.
In the end, they were only nine years old and both were dealing with very unexpectedly serious issues. With Rory, I tried for two years to get him well-- after all, it was just a skin issue! With Fiona, her cancer showed up out of the blue and as there is no cure for Transitional Cell Carcinoma of The Bladder- TCC for short, well, I just hung my head, opened my hands, and yielded to The Creator with this defeated prayer, "I can't do this any longer. My life is consumed with trying to keep them together body and soul. And, I am failing. They deserve better. I love them too much to keep them here." Her cancer was the final straw.
I think I now understand how a parent of several children, one of them with special needs or serious behavioral issues, must feel torn. All the energy goes to keeping the child at risk or in need together. At some point, though, in a moment of calm, your attention is attracted by your good child who never makes demands on you, always does as you ask, tries to help you care for the sick child, and never ever has your time. You think, "Oh you beautiful child how unfair this all is for you..."
I looked at sweet Argyle and realized he was getting more than the short end of the stick. Rory and Fiona had never bonded with him. They learned to live with him. They accepted he is part of our pack, but they never really interacted with him. Toward the end, I would see Fiona cleaning Argyle's face and I'd often them see them laying near each other, but the same can't be said of Rory. In fact, it was a couple of months after Argyle came that I noticed a quarter sized red, wet, raw spot on Rory's side.
And that took off like wild fire; Rory became beyond miserable with a skin issue that no one could identify and nothing helped. I became like a Valkyrie trying to heal him. Eventually, it got so that My Silly Boydog wanted nothing to do with me or anything around him. He was that miserable and uncomfortable. And THAT, that was the moment I felt my heart break. My Beloved Boydog, my Silly Boydog avoided being near me. Just because I was constantly trying through baths, and potions, and pills, and powders, and oils, and, and, and....he just couldn't stand it any longer and neither could I.
Fiona, my little die-hard was much different. First, she developed Cushing's Disease which, for me, was no big deal to manage. I'd had a Cairn Terrier with it so I knew what to expect. Her drug, while expensive, kept her symptoms well controlled. At its start, Cushing's is really a quality of life issue before it actually begins to effect the organs enough to make it a life threatening disease.
So long as the Bossy Bess got her two square meals, treats, and her bonies to gnaw on, things were good. Then one day, she began having trouble peeing and there was lots of blood. We thought it was a bladder stone, but when she got to surgery, well, it wasn't that. My vet called from the OR to give me the news that he'd found cancer. And that moment is when I felt my heart and back break.
There's no cure for TCC. And, although the scientists at Purdue University are working like Trojans to find answers, any answer wouldn't come in time for our girl. There are a rare few Scotties who go through treatment and come out cancer free. Most of the time, an owner only gets a few hard months with their dog before the dreaded day comes. And, those months are far from quality. Far from...
Michael and I talked it over. I called some very close Scottie friends to tell them what we were facing and to ask for their input. And, like I said, I finally offered my prayer of defeat or maybe it was a prayer of final acceptance, and we made the decision.
My husband made the observation, "I think, even though Fiona still feels pretty good, we should send them journeying together. Fiona would be fine without Rory here, but I honestly don't think Rory could cope with the leaving of Fiona on top of how physically miserable he is feeling." I couldn't have agreed more with that assessment. At the same time, I knew my mind would snap if I sent Rory on and in six months or less, was looking to take that final walk with Fiona. Call me weak, but I just could not do it. "I think we should send them together; they've spent every day with each other. Let's allow them to take this final walk with each other," whispered Michael. I nodded.
Mike called our vet; he immediately said he thought we were making the right decision. He agreed to bring a tech with him to our home where we could let them go surrounded by the familiar and loved ones. I said to Dr. Roman, "I'm afraid I'm cheating Fiona out of time." He answered, "Holly, I think you're doing the right thing here. Most of the time, we euthanize an animal on the worst day of its life. It makes it that much more terrible for the family and the pet. Allowing them to go when they are still a bit happy with life is a blessing." I won't ever forget him saying that.
The end was quiet and peaceful as these journeys are generally. I held Rory in my arms and Michael held Fiona. And all too soon, their time with us was done. We had them cremated together and their ashes wait, with all my other beloved dogs, to be blended with my ashes when the time comes for my journey to The Bridge.
Why has it taken me so long to record this in a blog? It's not as if it was my first experience taking that final walk with a dog. It won't be my last. I think it's because of the immense impact it's had on me spiritually. I think the two years of struggling every day with them, most especially Rory, had imprinted me with some form of post traumatic stress. I didn't want to talk about it, even though I knew there were many kind souls who would listen. I could not find the words to express my feelings and thoughts. I could not find the way to tell the story without covering every, terrible, harrowing detail of the struggle we'd gone through. And, if I can't tell a story in a way that is clear and succinct, well, I'm not going to tell it.
So, I didn't write about it here although my friends on Facebook knew what was happening and their outpouring of grief and prayers and good wishes was a true balm to our souls. It was heart healing to hear how many people had come to love our Scotties through my writings and how we shared them in pictures. It really, really made clear how people can help immensely while you grieve even though there is so very little they can do.
I didn't write about it, because things on this blog have great meaning for me. I didn't write about it here because I was simply too heart sick to attempt telling the tale. I didn't write about it here because I was emotionally exhausted. I didn't write about it here because I needed a break from all the sadness. I didn't write about it here because I simply wanted to dwell is some joy with the sweet boy still with us. I wanted to concentrate on Argyle who so patiently and stoically never interfered or insisted on having his way. I didn't write about Rory & Fiona's death because I needed to concentrate on living with Argyle and Michael. I didn't write because I couldn't.
An entire year later, I realize that my not writing about their death has left a bit of business undone. I've not given Rory and Fiona their moment of final glory by articulating how much they meant to me and how much their going has altered me and, hopefully, deepened my ability to care and be a Human Being.
A year later, I find mySelf wanting to record this and thank them for being such a marvelous part of my life. I write to say how lucky we were to have brought Argyle into our home. He helped us through our sadness by being with us and loving us quietly without demands. He adapted quite easily to being an Only Child. His uncomplicated and sunny personality truly helped me to return to life. He bonded to Michael and has chosen him as His Person. He loves us both, but he totally loves sitting in Mike's chair in the evenings. It's been sweet to watch him bloom after the shade of illness, sadness, and sorrow was ended.
The thing about life is that it does go on. Life does move on, even though many of us mourners resent that it does. While I don't hate that life progresses, I now realize that grief is not something to get past...it's a process that changes who one is- how one identifies themselves. Grief is the fire that can deepen our Spirit and expand our ability to be compassionate. Grief is the price we pay for having been given the grand gift of love. And, I wouldn't avoid the grief at the expense of not loving.
So life has moved on here at Casa de Frock. Michael and I talk about Fi and Rory quite a lot and it doesn't hurt us now when we do. Argyle continues to be a handsome, loving, funny Scottie. He's our sweet Brindle Boy, (Except when the mailman or the UPS guys have the nerve to breach the Scottie Perimeter of Hostility, e.g. come to the front door.)
And to prove that life rolls on, well almost a year later...
Here is the newest member of our Pack...please say hello to our baby Sweetie Wheatie! This is Rabbie Burns MacCelti. He is full of life, energy, and play. Happily he and Argyle are bonding together nicely. Argyle is the perfect mentor to teach him manners and how things work.
Not quite four months old and he has a chipmunk kill to his credit. Somehow, I just know Rory was purring, "Auck, Laddie, ah am sae verra prrrrroud of ye!" While Fiona is saying, "Move over, time to eat! I just love me some fresh Munk."
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who is Mum to Argyle MacPiper & Rabbie Burns MacCelti
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