Return of the little red wagon…

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In the last three weeks I’ve written at least three blog entries which wordpress subsequently ate. I will be pasting this out of an Open Office document just to be sure. As a writer who tends to pour her heart out with words, I was so frustrated by this that I never wrote a revision. Sadly, what that means is a jump from Point A to Point M. I hope no one feels this post is too jarring.

The last post that WordPress ate was my realization that Ardala wasn’t improving, that in fact we were going to look at maintaining her activity level and managing her pain. We took care of the pain anyway. About a month and a half ago she stopped using her left leg to paddle in the pool. A week or so later, she stopped using either. We got the new cart upgrade set up and it worked brilliantly for a few days, and then she was back to needing near constant support – this time more laterally than vertically. We were on a new regimen of “helping” her poop, apologetically using a q-tip to encourage her to do her business so we didn’t come home to a thickly frescoe’d carpet. She bore this indignity with an equanimity owing as much to her good nature as the treats we would feed her during the procedure. Last week I came home and picked her up to move her to the living room (she can’t get there on her own anymore, even when I wheelbarrow her) and she peed on me. I quickly held her over a towel and she peed a bit more. But apparently her bladder wasn’t empty, as she proceeded to piddle in several different places. In tears, I called her vet and she was seen the very next day.

As most pet owners will know, that was a symptom of a raging UTI. The vet called back later, sending us off with a bottle of Baytril and asking how long we had noticed the mucous discharge. I hadn’t noticed it. There have been so many other things for me to notice, like when did she poop last, is she advancing her back legs at all anymore, does she want to flip over on her other side… I didn’t notice there was a mucous plug so great it was visible in an x-ray. The vet also said that the first attempt to get a urine sample yielded only pus. My poor dog.

I picked her up and took her home, taking her on a halting wheelchair walk when I noticed her hopping. It wasn’t that she was leaning to the right for fun – she was no longer putting weight on her left front leg either.

For the last few months Red Monkey and I have been trying to take one day at a time – one crisis at a time, and then we’d work on the next thing. It was so scientific! Look, we get this pain taken care of, then we can rehab the legs a little more, or we can work on the pooping, or well, anything. And then it was like the little dutch boy with his finger in the dike – one thing would start getting fixed and another crisis would pop up. Like the labored breathing I’m listening to right now. Like realizing you can feel her fused vertebrae and how far up her spine they are when you’re petting her.

There has been crying. Sobbing really, and tough decisions that make me hate being a grown-up. But Red Monkey and I have decided that it’s time to let Ardala go. We’re give her the antibiotic, continuing with her pain-killers. Her bed is covered in puppy pads and we’ve finally gotten her to use the piddle patch on the balcony. We’ve pulled out her radio flyer wagon we used for her TPLO recovery and she gets a ride around the block every day, where she gets to feel the breeze through her ears and smell the neighborhood smells again, greeting canine and human friends alike. We take turns sleeping on a futon next to her in the living room, just so we can be close to the balcony if she needs to go – and because she feels more secure next to a monkey. Last night she got filet mignon, tonight she will get some chicken, tomorrow is salmon – and there will also be hot dogs and cheese somewhere on the agenda. On Friday she will get a massage from her favorite massage therapist at Two Hands Four Paws, and on Saturday morning, we’ll say goodbye in her home. And then there will probably be drinking. And crying. But also drinking. Please forgive me if I burst into tears at the slightest provocation this week. Next week I will be back and telling some great Ardala stories, ones that don’t have to do with therapy or recovery or poop. But this week I think I get permission to be a little sad.

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6 comments

  1. I’m so sorry, Joy. Letting go of a loved animal family member is never easy. Treasure the last few days and remember that being able to hold Ardala, provide comfort, and say goodbye is a gift. My beloved dog slipped out of the house and was killed on the side of the road, and I will never forgive myself for not being able to be there in his last moments, and in many ways, I envy you. Thanks for making me cry in my office this morning. 😉

  2. Joy, I’m in tears…. I’m so so so sorry. I don’t know her personally, but have come to love Ardala so much. You’ve taken better care of her than anyone else in this world would have. You gave her an amazing loving life. I am so sorry. Give my condolences to D please…

  3. catvoncat · · Reply

    I’m so sorry, but so grateful that Ardala has such a wonderful family who loves her so much. Sending peaceful thoughts your way, and gentle pets for Ardala if she would like them.

  4. Mary Anne in Kentucky · · Reply

    I’m so sorry. I know how much this kind of decision hurts. You have permission to be a LOT sad, and for more than a week. I have enjoyed knowing Ardala so much through your writing.

  5. RachelB · · Reply

    All the gentle thoughts and sympathy for you. This is so rough.

  6. Barbara · · Reply

    I am so very sorry for your loss.. my closest friends are all fur covered. You’ve tried so hard to ease her pain & improve her life. & you did. In turn she improved yours & the lives of those who read about her. Love to you & D during this time.. & to Ardala, run across that Bridge.. nothing can hurt you anymore! :’-)

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