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Sniffing the Days

Because of the ultrasound that led to a depressing prognosis, Una also has an exposed, nude belly just as the weather is turning colder.

I went to Petco yesterday and bought her a fleece dog coat, pink with polka dots, to keep her warm when we go outside. Then, because I thought it might lift her spirits, I bundled up Kung Fu Panda in his stroller, and we took her for a walk.



Una in Her Coat
Una in the coat I got her to protect against the cold.



Normally, Una gets very excited when I put clothing on her, because it means she gets extra attention. This time, she seemed subdued; perhaps a sign of her sickness, or perhaps because she remembers wearing a fleece dog coat when she was a pup.

As I opened the porch door onto a gray but still bright day, Una smiled. By the time I grabbed my camera, the grin had disappeared. And though I couldn't capture it on our walk, I know she enjoyed the slow jaunt through the neighborhood.

I let Una lead the way, ready to turn back at the first sign of distress. Her steps were slow and deliberate, but she refused to turn back at the corner where I first tried to lead her home, and we followed her around another block as she sampled the scents on a tuft of grass, a fence post, a pile of leaves. Born in late October, she's always loved romping through dry leaves (and peeing in leaf piles).

Una Sniffs
Una enjoys some smells.



The coat covered her bald spot perfectly, which helped with another concern, as well. Friendly strangers admired my cute dog, rather than pausing to ask disturbing questions about her health. More importantly, they held out their hands and pet her, telling her she was a good dog. People may sympathize with sick dogs, but they do not pet them. Una has always loved making new friends.

Perhaps more importantly, she took treat after treat from me during our walk. In all, I gave her almost an entire sandwich bag of training treats. This was hopeful, since it's been a struggle to get her to eat anything for more than a week.

Unfortunately, when I was following up with the vet last night, she told me that I should let Una rest. "You don't want her to overexert herself," she told me. "We don't want another rupture."

I'd been so convinced that walking her was the right thing; she'd seemed so happy. Now, I'm not sure. She's had a periodic bloody nose since last night, and I fear I did something wrong, something that will inadvertently shorten her days.

Still, I'm trying to bring her enjoyment, where possible. This morning, for breakfast, I gave her a bowl full of cat food. She jumped off the couch and ran over to the forbidden treat with more enthusiasm than I've seen in weeks.

Una Takes in the World
Una takes a good look at the world around her.



Moral:
Dogs don't keep bucket lists, but if they did, "eat cat food" would probably be on there.


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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
annemaeve
Oct. 21st, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear about Una's prognosis.

My mom just went through a similar time with her 12-year-old Golden, Cinnamon, who had a growth on her spleen that ruptured. Mom didn't have as much time to plan for the loss of her friend, as Cin went from perfect to gone in less than a day.

What hurt me the most to see was Mom second-guessing herself: Should she have tried emergency surgery? Did the pest-control spray the week before do anything? Did Cin live a fun life or a boring one? Did she do the right thing in letting her go?

So when I saw you write "I fear I did something wrong", I just had to comment. You love your dog, and you make educated decisions that you feel are in her best interest. Therefore, you can do no wrong. Una had a great time on that walk, and since she lives for the moment (unlike us), it was a flawless gift to her. She loves you, and will love you every day that she can, no matter what. Every decision you make in the coming weeks, no matter how hard, will be the right one.

*hugs*
alycewilson
Oct. 21st, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for those words. It's true that it's so easy to second-guess yourself. The first cat I had as an independent adult was hit and killed by a car. Losing pets suddenly is perhaps even harder than losing them this way.

You should tell your mother that she did absolutely the right thing. From what I've learned, growths on the spleen are a silent killer. By the time it got to the stage where it killed Cin, it's unlikely anything could have saved her. And even if she had opted for surgery, it would have been like operating on a senior citizen; the outcomes would have been uncertain, and she might not have even survived it.

But yes, I will try to take my cues from Una. If she looks longingly down the street on a nice day when I let her in the front yard to pee, I may just take her for another leisurely walk. I want her with me longer, but I also want her to enjoy her final days.
sharya
Oct. 21st, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
I want her with me longer, but I also want her to enjoy her final days.

I really think that's the best gift you can give her.
alethiometric
Oct. 22nd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Yes, this.

It's strange; they know when it's time. They tell you. Until then, they want what you want: time spent together in enjoyment of each others' company.
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Right now, I think she is also still trying to help me with KFP. Every time he cries, she looks at me as if to say, "Can I help?" I hope she does let me know when it's time, because I want to be sure about that.
alethiometric
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
I can't, and don't really want to, describe it - but it's unmistakable. And until it's time, they do their best to keep being themselves, because they know it comforts you to have them around.

Animals are incredible.

/hug It is a difficult time - if you need anything, please let me know.
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
Thank you. At this point, I mainly need people to listen. It's good to know someone cares.

Your icon is wonderful.
sharya
Oct. 22nd, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
I agree with this. With both of my cats that I've had to put down, they let me know. There was no doubt.
millysdaughter
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
This.

**hugs**
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
And I will do my best.
annemaeve
Oct. 22nd, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
I'll definitely share this with Mom. It's always good to hear reassurance from lots of different sources. And to know that you're heard, in turn. :)

*hugs*
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that. It sounds like it's time she forgave herself.
marjory
Oct. 21st, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Obviously I'm not a vet, but having gone through something similar (again...) recently, I understand completely what you mean about wanting to make Una as happy as possible. I also understand the second-guessing part all too well.

I don't think that a sedate trot for a short distance is the same as over-exerting her. You seem like a sensible enough person to know the difference for your own dog! They love being out and if she couldn't go, she wouldn't. Instead, she went along in the new coat you very thoughtfully got for her and got up enough moxie to eat something.

You're still her Mum and you know that she needs to eat and rest and get out and smell the smells, lap up the attention she gets from admirers. There can't be a right answer because you really want to fix what ails her and you can't do that, but you know what she needs and you know the changes in her.

Keep strong.
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
First, I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through something similar. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but sadly, it's far too common.

I will continue to give her some enjoyment, and hopefully, walks will be part of that.
creature_girl08
Oct. 22nd, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
I understand about second guessing yourself. I am sure that if Una did not want to go on that walk she would not have done so.

You have sense enough to know whether you should take her out or not. I am sure you will continue to just know what is right or not for Una. This does not mean it will be easy but you will know.

Love the coat. What a neat thing to do. Just goes to show how much you love her.

Huge hugs,
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
Again, thank you so much. Una did seem to enjoy herself yesterday, and I'd like to take her again, as long as she's feeling up to it. I'll just be sure to let her set the pace.
deza
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
The one thing I hear over and over is that getting out of the house and attempting some form of light exercise would lift my spirits. At a guess, the same is true of Una.

Stop second-guessing yourself. You'll worry right out of any enjoyment of the time you still have together. Let her set the pace, and she'll tell you what she needs and wants to do.
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
Thank you for the good advice. I really would like to take her on more walks. Her face just lights up when we get outside together.
msstacy13
Oct. 22nd, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to sound cold and pragmatic,
but Una will die on one of the next forty days,
and that death will probably be painful.

If she can enjoy herself now and increase her chances of dying suddenly,
rather than slowly,
that sounds like the the better option.

And even though I sound cold and pragmatic,
I'm crying profusely as I type this.
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Sadly, all too true.
med_kitty
Oct. 22nd, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
*huggles*
alycewilson
Oct. 22nd, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you. There's an update. I'm writing it now.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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