Dogs, Euthanasia, and Life Afterwards

I wish we could know when it’s the “last time” for something.

My dog went from fine, with senior mobility problems, to dead within a week. I didn’t know it was our last walk when it was our last walk. That was on Thursday, August 9. I can’t even remember it.

On Friday, August 10, five people came to stay at my home for my son’s engagement party that I was giving the next day. I didn’t take Luna for her morning walk because I left to exercise early. Everyone was here by mid-day; we went out to dinner, so I didn’t take her for her evening walk as well. I did not know we had taken our last walk until a chain of events began to happen.

In 1999 we rescued Luna, a boarder-collie mix with her non-biological brother, Rocky. They had been rescued together and were a team from the start. They were born in the fall and NASA reported that we would have “The Brightest Moon of the Century on December 22, 1999.” So we decided to name her Luna.

Rocky and Luna as Puppies

Rocky and Luna as Puppies

Rocky died on February 11, 2013 from congestive heart disease (See my post, “Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs . . .) Luna lived two more years. Rocky had been the dominate dog, being male and being larger than Luna. But Luna could hold her own quite well. She was a lady, but also a dog lady.

On Saturday, August 11, the day I was having 30 people for a sit down dinner in my back yard, the first thing happened.

Luna didn’t get up in the morning as she normally did. I enjoyed sleeping in, figuring I needed to rest for the big party. But by 10 it was very unusual she hadn’t gotten up, and so I petted her and talked to her, and she got up.

Then the second thing happened. As I was fixing her breakfast, she walked out of the kitchen. Luna is a food hound. She is the kind of dog who would eat anti-freeze before you could stop her. When I gave her her treat each evening, she ate it as though someone would take it away from her if she didn’t gobble it as fast as she could. So when Luna walked away as I was preparing her food, I was shocked. I took the food dish and showed it to her. She was in the dinning room by then. She came back in, ate half and walked away again, going toward my bedroom. Again, pure shock. I found her in the hallway on the ground. Although I had put down runner type carpets everywhere so she wouldn’t slip on the tile floors, I figured she had slipped again. I helped her into my room.

Then I noticed the third thing. She had pooped in the hallway. That is probably why she slipped. But this was also a shocker. If she had to go, she would go to the door that led to the back yard. And, yes, a couple of times in her life she pooped there, if I had not noticed she needed to go out. She was too polite to bark.  But I wish she would have.

I cleaned her and the floor, and then the caterer was here. Luna came outside as she normally does. I was working with the caterer and noticed she was making her way to spot in the bushes where it is nice and cool. But it’s also a spot where she sometimes gets stuck. By the time I looked again, she was on her bed by the back door.

Then the fourth thing happened. She had thrown up some of her breakfast and didn’t get up – or try to eat it. As gross as it is, that is her normal move whenever she has thrown up. I will never know if that was out of neatness or hunger, since she loved to eat so much.

During the party, I put her on her bed in a comfy spot in a carpeted bedroom. She seemed okay, but I was very worried. The next day, I saw a vet at the clinic where Luna’s normal vet works. He said it was her back and gave her a shot of prednisone and put her on a muscle relaxer. I was ecstatic. My dog would live.

But the next day, she was worse. While on Sunday she could still walk, on Monday, she could not manage to push herself up to walk unassisted. I thought it was the muscle relaxant. I stopped it. The next day, Tuesday, her vet was working. She also thought it was her back. She gave her an intravenous injection of prednisone, and a regular shot of prednisone, and a pain pill she has tolerated before when she tore an ACL.

But she got worse.

I bought her treats to get her to eat and to take her pills. I contacted the vet and asked if I could cut the pain medicine in half, thinking that was what was causing the decline. I bought raw ground beef as I used to do for Rocky when he was very sick and wouldn’t eat. At first she ate it with relish. But by Saturday, she wouldn’t eat and began to have respiratory distress.

Luna at Ocean Beach

Luna at Ocean Beach

Our last normal day had been Friday, August 10 when my house filled up with out of town guests. I knew my days with Luna were numbered because she would have turned 16 in September, but I thought I would have had more time. Six months at least. I also thought that her back legs would just stop or break and would be the reason she would die.

During the last week of her life, she tried her hardest to let me know when she had to go out. But the last time she could get up was on Friday, August 14. After she walked outside, she laid down on the walkway and her breathing became so slow. Her body felt rigid. That’s when I realized she would probably not recover from whatever was happening to her. But I still thought I could wait a bit. I needed to be sure that this was not something that would pass. Maybe she could wait until my son was able to come to town.

I feel like an idiot for thinking that. Euthanasia was a blessing for her as it became extremely clear by Saturday, August 15th that she was having trouble breathing; she wouldn’t eat, and she could not push herself up from a lying position. I did my best to keep her comfortable until the vet could come to my home. It would have been awful for her to have to been subjected to the stress of driving in Los Angeles on a Sunday to try to get to the vet’s location, 30-40 minutes away.  I carried her outside to lay on the grass for the last time on Sunday morning. Then she rested in as much comfort as possible inside till the vet arrived. She died on August 16, 2015.

I will miss my beautiful Luna always and forever. Same with Rocky. They were the best two dogs in the world.

If you have lost a pet and would like to share your experience, please do. I would like to know how others cope with the overwhelming loss of a pet. Our daily routines are forever changed as are our lives. It’s hard for me to accept that I couldn’t save her. No matter what I bought that last week, food, new elevated dishes, thinking they would help her back problem, treats. . . It was her time. Her body was done. I will never know exactly what was happening inside her. The vet suggested cancer. I don’t know. I think cancer moves more slowly.

I am so lucky to have had these two wonderful beings in my life . . .

Rocky and Luna

Rocky and Luna

Rocky and Luna

Rocky and Luna

Luna and Rocky with Goggles

Luna and Rocky with Goggles

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5 thoughts on “Dogs, Euthanasia, and Life Afterwards

  1. Aw, Gina, I didn’t know… time surely helps. When I lost my cat to a coyote after moving here, I thought I had up to ten more years with her still. That was a shocker. She was meowing a lot the Friday night before she went missing, and I’m so glad I held her and stroked and cuddled her that evening. She had been neglected a lot over the time before, during and for about 6 weeks after our move. We didn’t have a pet door in the house yet, so I would leave the patio screen door open. My son, 3.5 last summer, started playing with it, and I would repeatedly tell him it needed to stay open for the dog and cat… Wed. that week, we’d found a dead skunk in the backyard. I stupidly thought it had crawled up from the road after being struck by a car, even though it did rather look like it’s gut had been “shredded”, we live in an urban area… I didn’t know coyotes prowled here. Friday, the last night I saw her, I went upstairs with my son to do his night routine, teeth, bath, stories and prayers and get him into his bed. It all took an hour at the least… we started around dusk (favorite coyote stalk time, unrealized to me then). I made my son’s home made hot chocolate, like every night, and he called for me, and so I headed upstairs, not thinking to check that patio screen door… well, I’d be back down in about an hour, anyway… At the top of the stair, I heard my cat meow in a loud garbled sounding way… it was more than usual.. .a bit startled, I turned back toward the sound, calling to her… but she didn’t come… and the meowing stopped then, so I figured she was ok… (but NO, the coyote either got her then, or chased her because later two neighbor girls reported seeing it drag her across their grandfather’s front yard). After my son was asleep, I came down and opened the patio door so that the dog could go out. Always a good eater, I was surprised my cat wasn’t waiting to come in, but I never saw my cat again after that night… a couple days later, after I’d posted signs, the neighbor girls came and rang the doorbell and told me what they had seen. They said all that was left of my sweet kitty was her white front paws… I guess even coyotes don’t want to eat those long sharp front claws. Later, I read up on the local coyotes. Our area is hilly with deep ravines and wildlife thrive in the non-buildable areas. I read 42% of coyote diet is domesticated pets. My Caligrrl had come from my great uncle’s property, in El Cajon, CA. He was special to me, and that kitty was a tie, so I felt the loss doubly.

  2. omg gina…..i was just cleaning out my computer emails and found this in my spam. i am so so so sorry to hear this very sad heartbreaking news. and i am so sorry to be so late in saying so. i love you always, cheryl ana bass herbekian…..and also a very belated birthday. my world is turned upside down and not in a good way. steves mom is beginning alzheimers and has also been a victim of elder financial abuse by her very best friend. pain, shame and betrayal…. police etc. hope you ae well and happy and that the boys are doing great. bevan is still plugging away at music. xoxoxoxox

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