Last Fall, we had lost Louie, our kitten to FIP. Shortly after that, I fell away from DogMom Life. What happened? Why?
Well, even though loosing Louie was heart breaking, it’s what happened after that caused such a devastation to my inner core, that it was really hard to come back to doing much of anything. It’s a depression that only a fellow DogMom could understand. It was one of those things I knew I should write about, but didn’t have the strength to. I’m not sure I have the strength to now, either. But I’m going to tough through this.
Two weeks after Louie passed away, while I was still in so much pain, we suddenly lost our dog, Jaymie, to cancer. It was so sudden and even though it was eight months ago, it still seems so fresh that I can recollect every detail in all five senses. I didn’t even know she had cancer and I didn’t get one of those, “She has about 2 months to live” statements from the vet. It was a “This is it” moment. There were no extended last moments to spend with her, a last chance to soak in the sweetness of her or go over any sort of a bucket list like you see on TV.
We had just came home from running errands and immediately noticed that Jaymie was suddenly ill and made a mess. What alerted me the most was the blood mixed in this mess. Just a couple months short of her 13th birthday, any sickness would have us running to the vet. But this one shook me to my core as I’ve had an ongoing fear of loosing her ever since she turned 7.
You see, the saying goes, “Parents should never have to bury their children,” but for dog-parents, it’s inevitable. It’s expected. Whenever you decide to become a DogMom, you are signing yourself up for a terrible, grieving heartache. You just know it’s part of the deal. It’s in the contract to gain that title.
So on our way to the vet, those fears were loud and clear in my mind, but on the other hand, I was very sure that this can be fixed. That God wouldn’t allow so much hurt to happen to me in such a short amount of time. God wouldn’t take away my dog within two weeks after taking my kitten.
Yes, maybe this can be fixed! Maybe it’s just surgery or maybe it’s just some medication. Whatever it was that would fix her, I’d pay it and I’d spend every minute night & day to take care of her. I’d be by her side. Whatever it takes to keep her here with me a little while longer. Even the doctor was certain we could figure this out and fix this.
That was until a quick blood test showed a different story….a confusing story. Then an x-ray of the chest and abdomen filled in the rest of the blanks. Jaymie had a tumorous mass in front of her lungs, that extended down through her abdomen and had ruptured some essential area of her digestive system. That is what had caused the sudden illness. Then the vet told me the words I never wanted to hear – my fears coming a reality. He told me that this was most likely cancerous, it couldn’t be fixed and that we needed to make a decision. Like there was really a decision at all.
The decision was that I could euthanize her that night. Or we can give her some medication to take the pain away, help her feel better, so that we can decide when would be the best time to euthanize her.
My world was spinning and I couldn’t imagine this was how this was going to happen. This was not the agreement that I had with God. Jaymie was supposed to peacefully pass away in her sleep in about three more years from now. I’ve had her since she was a tiny puppy. Jaymie had been with me through 4 years of college, 2 marriages, 1 divorce with domestic violence, 8 residence moves, 7 jobs, 4 vehicles and numerous road trips, laughs, cries and cuddle times. She was with me during all of my years of learning to be an adult, and that I assumed she would always be here. So hearing the vet say these words didn’t compute with me.
I was upset that I didn’t get one of those, “Your dog has cancer, you have (time limit here) to spend with her.” Instead, it was like she was going to be yanked away from my arms without any notice. So I opted for some pain medication to spend one more night with her. Selfish, I know that now. Because as soon as we got back home, it felt very wrong when I looked into her eyes. She wasn’t mentally there. I took her for a break to the backyard and she would try to find a far corner and hide, as if she was ready to die there. Maybe she wanted to be alone and spare me from watching her die, but I refused to let her be alone. I was going to be there until her last breath. I was up all night to make sure of it.
That next morning, we took her back, where I had to say the words I never ever wanted to say, nor could I ever imagine them being uttered out of my mouth. “I’m here to put my dog to sleep.” It sounded like a stranger had said it, but I realized my lips were moving as I held her in a blanket. We were with her until her last breath as I had promised her. I’ll spare you the last minute details, even though I relive them in my sad memories. I couldn’t leave her alone…couldn’t be selfish anymore. I had to do what was right for her.
The gravity of this tragedy happening to an already broken heart was too much for my heart to bare. And this took over every minute of my day and night. It occupied the majority of my mind and weakened every breath I took. A lot of emotional eating took place, followed by a lot of depressive sleep. My world was upside down. I felt completely broken. So I did nothing. Nothing. My husband tried his hardest to keep me from falling into a dark place.
I couldn’t even look at DogMomLife.com because I felt like the worst DogMom of all DogMoms. I felt awful for making her endure an extra night of hell just so I could hold her a little longer and felt responsible for her cancer because I felt like it was preventable. Maybe I should have paid better attention to her treats, to make sure there weren’t any artificial dyes. What if I had taken her to the vet much earlier and ran a full panel blood test, just in case? Then maybe it would have been caught earlier and fixable. The past 8 months have been a whirlwind of “What ifs,” and “Shoulda-Coulda’s.” I definitely felt like this was my fault and I was constantly yelling out how sorry I was to Jaymie for several months afterwards. I even went through a phase where I thought God punished me for doing something wrong.
It took a long time to get back to this website. Am I healed? No. But I am better. I’m doing things and taking better care of myself. I’m experiencing happy days. It took a long time to call myself a DogMom again. It wasn’t fair to Reuben (our other dog) for my absence in being his mom. He still needed me, so I am stepping back into the role I’m called to be.
Nothing has been the same since, but I gotta push through. It’s perfectly acceptable that someone needs therapy after loosing a loved one. But when it’s of a different species, society expects us to get over it and function the next day.
Maybe I’m the first to say this, but this world definitely needs professional pet-loss therapists. Thank you for holding my hand through this post, fellow DogMom.