How do you say goodbye to a part of your life? How can you do it when it feels like your heart is being ripped from your chest?
I had to do that tonight. I had to let go and say goodbye to my precious baby dog. After 9 1/2 years, I’ll never again see Orion waiting at the door for me when I get home from work. I’ll never again give him a used tissue to eat (hey, it was his choice). I’ll never have him jump up on the bed to lay on my legs at night, before he hops off to sleep in the bathroom. I’ll never again get to scratch his chin or hit that perfect spot on his ears to make him moan. He’ll never again howl at the sirens going by outside.
I feel shattered right now. I know some would say it was only a dog, but he was my baby. To him, I was the alpha dog, and he gave my husband and me so much unconditional love it was unbelievable. Even at the end.
About 2 weeks ago, I noticed he was acting a bit lethargic. But then we realized he wasn’t eating as much, and drinking a lot more water than usual. This past Saturday, we took him to the vet to get checked out. Chest x-rays were taken, and everything looked just fine, except for what seemed to be some slight congestion in his upper lungs. That would explain the coughing, of course.
They drew blood to have a full workup done, and we took him home to wait the results on Monday. He was still moving around fine, but he just wasn’t acting right. The test results came back perfect, except for a mildly elevated thyroid. The vet had my husband bring Orion in for another blood draw to do more detailed thyroid tests, and gave us some antibiotics for the coughing. Those seemed to help some, although forcing pills down your dogs throat isn’t fun.
Still, he just wasn’t eating. This from a dog who made begging a fine art, giving the most soulful and hopeful looks if you so much as glanced his way. He was a polite begger, too, and always assumed he’d get the last bite of my sandwich or lick the bowl out after I had ice cream. How could anyone resist those eyes?
The vet was concerned enough about the not eating to have us go to the local emergency vet clinic. If nothing else, they could hook him up to an IV for fluids, and try to get his nutrition levels up more. The doctor there wanted to take an abdominal x-ray, and also took another chest film. The difference was incredible. It wasn’t just a little bit of his lungs, it was all of his lungs now. Outlined in globs of white, right there on film. His liver was also enlarged and probably the original source.
This just happened so fast. Only 5 days from when we took him to the vet, two weeks max from him showing signs of illness. It’s just not right!
No matter how much I tried to deny what she told us – “I’m 90% sure it’s cancer” – I just didn’t want to accept it. This was my baby, how could this happen to him? He’s been the most perfect dog, never giving us a bit of trouble (not even with his seizures). Why did this have to happen to him? But seeing him, and seeing tired and weak he was, knowing that he didn’t even have the strength to walk, just forced me to accept the truth. It was time to say goodbye and end any suffering he had. He’d given us nothing but love for all his too short life, it was time to return that love at the end in the best way possible.
We will always love you, Orion. You really were the best dog ever, fuzzy pup.
Orion the Star Hunter, October 24, 1995 – June 22, 2005