Our oldest dog; Jess died last week. She had been getting gradually sicker and sicker over the last few months and the vet said that her breast cancer had returned. We had her mammary glands removed from her left side two years ago and we hoped that the cancer was all gone, but we were wrong.
She began having seizures one afternoon last week and continued to have them for a few days. For anyone who hasn’t seen a dog seizure, it is a terrifying experience (for both the dog and the bystanders); her legs went stiff and she arched her back, she dribbled and shook, she looked to be in the worst pain imaginable, then the recovery phase begins and she sat looking blankly at the wall and panting for half an hour or so before returning to normal. I had an appointment at the vet for Melvin and Penny (Melvin’s sister) to get their second immunisations, so I rang up and included Jess in the appointment.
I had to drive to a small local town for Melvin and Penny’s needles, so we made up a bed for Jess in the back, put the travel crate in the front of the car for Melvin and Penny, packed some extra wipes, towels, sheets and food for the journey (standard puppy bag) and away we went. Well…
Melvin got car sick and threw up more than his body weight on his sister after only half an hour of travel. I stopped and cleaned them up and replaced their bedding.
Jess began to fit in the back after another fifteen minutes of travel. I pulled over and comforted her for what seemed like forever. Then changed her bedding and cleaned her up (as she had begun to release her bowels and bladder when she had a fit) and continued on our way.
Melvin and Penny began to have a fight which sounded like the End of Days in miniature. I pulled over again and gave them some time apart by walking them seperately so they could toilet. Time was beginning to blur by now, so I rang the vet and told them I would be late.
I ran into a twenty minute wait at road works and realized I had not bought any water bottle for myself, but I offered all the dogs a drink from the bottle I had packed for them (then I had a drink from it too).
Melvin was sick… again. I pulled over and changed the bedding again and gave Jess a toilet break.
Eventually, after what seemed to be the longest drive in the universe, I made it to the vet. The puppies had their shots (with much crying and patting) and the vet examined Jess, gave her an anti-seizure shot and told me I had to take her to the main office for some blood tests. She also told me that there wasn’t much they could really do for Jess. The vet has a small outpost in one of the local towns (where I was taking everyone), but their office is a two hour drive away.
I drove to the vet’s main office in a kind of daze. It didn’t seem to take long to get there and nobody was sick, had a seizure or needed the toilet for the whole drive. When I got there, Jess had an examination and blood tests and the vet said we could try anti-seizure medication, but it may not work and that he thought that her cancer had made it to her brain and she was now in pain. I rang everyone at home and we made the decision to let her go peacefully. I stayed with her for the end and she ended her life with a sigh of relief.
She has been forgetful for a while now and spent most of her days sleeping and eating in various places throughout the humpy. We let her enjoy her twilight years by feeding her soaked biscuits and special treats (like poached eggs) twice a day and making sure her bed was always clean and waiting for her. She has had a good retirement.
She came to us as an abused dog (read about it here) and we did our best to let her know that she was family and we loved her. Eventually, she came to trust that we had her best interests at heart and relaxed into our family. She gave up being obsessed with random animals and became the true leader of the household. I will miss her calm, steady gaze on everything that goes on in the humpy. I will miss her hoarse bark (single) of greeting when I get home from work. Most of all, I will miss the goodnight pats we shared at bedtime, where the ritual is always to pat everyone goodnight and turn off the lights; now there is one missing.
Rest easy Jess, I will try to keep it all in good order for you.