Dog spelled backwards is God. I've always treated my relationship with Jack as one that God himself gave me. I've tried to always nurture it, embrace it, pick up the poop when it falls and keep a smile on my face. This is the final post I'll make here about my Wonder Dog, as today was his last day. Here's his story:
Friday, April 10
I woke up at 1:45am to hear Jack crying from his house (kennel) in the kitchen. I came downstairs, and let him straight out. I checked his blanket, and it appeared to be dry, so I wasn't too sure what was wrong. Maybe his stomach was just upset? I pulled the cover on his house over the front and felt something wet. That's when I investigated further, he had pooped in his house. Gross. It took me about 15 minutes to clean it all up and then I realized, he was still outside. Normally he just goes out, does his business and comes back. Five minutes tops. I went into the backyard, and see him hunched over, trying to poop. Then standing up, walking two steps, and squatting down to pee. This repeated itself about four times. I called him inside, put him in his house, kissed his head, and said good night.
I woke up and came downstairs at 8am. He had pooped in his house. Again. I let him outside and for the next two hours, we did 15 minutes outside. 15 minutes in his house. Outside, house. Obviously something was very wrong. I thought he might have eaten something, like a toad or found something in the backyard. My son and I left him for an hour, went and did errands, and when we came home, took Jack for a walk. On the walk I see he is trying to poop; just mucus is coming out. He's drooling (he doesn't drool) and he keeps squatting to pee; but nothing is coming out. I called the vet immediately, explained what was going on, and we got in to see her within the hour.
At the vet's office, its determined his prostate is enlarged "which is very unusual for a male dog, but especially a neutered male dog". They catheterized him and when they showed me his urine, I was sobbing. It wasn't urine, yellow and beautiful. It was dark orange/brown and had the consistency of snot. In between sobs (and my own snot) I heard her say he has a very serious urinary tract infection. They took blood, gave me antibiotics and said they'd call me in the morning. When I got home, I explained to my family what was happening but that I couldn't shake the feeling, he has cancer. "He will be okay." "Don't think like that." But somehow I just knew.
That evening Jack didn't want to take his antibiotics. He spent the afternoon sleeping in the sun, laying in the shade or under the bay window (some place he has never gone to before).
I barely slept.
Saturday, April 11
At 9am, Jack and I were sitting in the vet's office. She got back the urinalysis and was amazed at his levels. They were all 3+ (which means he was WAY OFF from a healthy puppy). She showed me how to give him his antibiotics (since he didn't take them the night before, he was now already down one dose and we needed to play catch-up). Of course watching a pro do something, you think it looks easy. Of course its easy for the pro. That's what they do. That's their job. However, when I got home, I had no such luck. I felt like an awful pet parent because the one thing I needed to do for my dog to keep him alive, I couldn't. I couldn't shove a pill down his throat.
Because she gave him his antibiotics in the office, I just needed to ensure he got them Sunday morning. Empowered by my 15 second tutorial from the pro, I felt up for the challenge.
Sunday, April 12
Now I know why I never played sports, I suck when it comes time to play. I tried three times to put the pill down his throat. One time I was certain it was successful; but he cheeked-it then spit it out at me. As if to say "I'm not stupid. I'm sick. I don't want the stupid pill. Leave me alone." Except, maybe Jack underestimated me.
Since the vet's office was closed, I didn't have them to give him the pill. So I went to Petsmart. Their vet office is open on Sunday! I walked in, explained my situation to the lady in blue and she said, "he's not our patient. So we can't administer the pill." Say WHA? I handed her ALL of my documentation, explained, through tears and snot, that he needs his medicine, I've tried, I can't do it, and she suggested I used a pill gun. That caught my attention.
Picture a hollow pencil with a plunger inside. The top is soft and expandable. Put the pill in the top, slide open the pets mouth, push the plunger, pill lands in the throat. Easy.
Except, no. With fumbling hands, and already sleep deprived and weary, he got the best of me, and I couldn't open his mouth wide enough. I was spent.
Our next door neighbor, Nicole, had been made aware of what was going on from the first phone call on Friday to the vet. She said, "if you need anything, call me". So I phoned a friend.
And that friend came over, pet my sunbathing dog, opened his throat, put the pill back there, closed his mouth, gave him a friendly pat on his noggin, hugged me and left. She was an angel in purple. She just saved my dog. I explained that he wasn't drinking anything, and she made the awesome suggestion of using a syringe. With none on hand, the hubs went to Target and came home from the pharmacy with a bag full of syringes any junkie would have admired.
We spent the afternoon planting new plants in the front, I filled up the syringe with water, injected it into his mouth, got the "I really don't like you" look from him...went back to the plants, filled up the syringe, got the look, and repeated. All afternoon. Because of Nicole, I knew my dog would live to see the vet tomorrow.
Monday, April 13
At 8am I was on the phone with the vet. Explained our weekend adventure and how awful its been. "Its time we hospitalize him. Bring him in." And so I did. I walked him into the office, gave him a kiss on his head and walked out. For the first time in four days, I felt relief. Relief that he was finally going to get help. Relief that I knew I hit my threshold of being able to care for him and they were able to take control of the situation and actually give him fluids and let him rest and observe him. All the things I couldn't do.
I called several times that day, asking how he was doing, overall just being "that" mom. "Is his tail wagging?" That night I finally slept well.
Tuesday, April 14
Funny thing happens when you don't have a pet you need to rush out of bed and take care of. You can get ready at a slow pace. By 9:30 the vet called and said he was eating and could get picked up. My son did a happy dance in the waiting area when they brought Jack out. He had a purple bandage on his front right leg from his IV (which we removed when we got home...to find his leg had been shaved). Finally things were looking up.
It was determined then that he had a very severe urinary tract/bladder infection. He was given two different antibiotics to stay on for the next week and a half.
During the next week and a half, I noticed as Jack would walk around the house (he has been contained to the first floor since his ACL injury in the Fall) that there were dribbles on the floor. Pee dribbles. I called the vet, and they said its typical to have the "push" sensation after such a severe infection, its just his body getting back into a groove.
Over the next two weeks, I cleaned my floors almost daily and changed his bedding every other day because of his dribbles.
Wednesday, April 22
Jack finished his antibiotics and the vet asked I drop off a urine sample to check on his levels.
Thursday, April 23
The vet asked for another sample because they needed to run more intense tests on his urine. They will call me tomorrow with the results.
Friday, April 24
No phone call.
Saturday, April 25
9:30am my phone rings. The tests reveal an abnormal amount of red and white blood cells in his urine and also abnormal amounts of transitional cells. Bottom line, he has bladder cancer. We have no idea how long it has been going on, but its there. TCC will end up being the death of my dog. We could do an ultrasound ($800+) and start him on tumor shrinking medicine (which could have awful side effects) or just wait it out.
On Mother's Day, we had plans that took us away from the house all day. When we returned, after leaving Jack alone for 7+ hours, I was certain there was going to be puddles in his house. Not one. Hooray, my boy is feeling better! We went outside and as my son played in his water table, Jack gave me Mother's Day kisses:
From there, it went down hill rather quickly.
Monday, May 11
My son and I are playing on the floor, Jack comes over with his Elmo (a squeaky toy my son "needed" to get for Jack) and I realize he smells. He smells like a dog who pees on himself. I put Jack in the tub and as I lathered him up, I was sobbing like a baby. I knew this was the last bath I would ever give him. And then I felt the tumor.
Tuesday, May 12
I had a meeting that took me away from the house all day, but my mother-in-law was with Jack all day. She said he slept. All day.
Wednesday, May 13
Jack slept. All day. When the lawn service came, we sat on the steps in the backyard and watched. Jack didn't budge. He laid into my leg and watched. The went back to sleep.
Thursday, May 14
I washed all of his bedding. Sprayed Lysol on surfaces, and when I went to put the cover on his foam bed, he tried to crawl into it. I laughed and pushed him out of the way then put the bed in front of the fireplace where he always laid. That was at 4:15pm. When I went upstairs for bed at 10:30, he hadn't moved.
I called the vet. Jack has been drinking an abnormal amount of water. And its not coming out. He's also eating, but obviously the tumor is in the way of his intestine, so a formed BM isn't happening. He's walking funny and there's a new sack on his back left leg. His stomach was making awful noises, and when I took him for a walk, he was pooping mucus. I called the vet and she made the appointment for tomorrow at 10:30. "Its time the doc looks him over and accesses things as they stand now." When we were in the backyard together, a cat came under the fence. Jack looked at the cat. Looked at me as if to say "one last time" and exerted more energy than I've seen in over a month, chased the cat away (didn't bark) and then walked his fence perimeter for the last time. We ate dinner outside and Jack laid on his pillow with us.
Saturday, May 16
I got myself ready, and when I was putting on my socks asked Jack if he'd like to go for a walk. His ears perked up and as soon as he left his bed, he cried out in pain, twice. I promised him it wouldn't be a long walk. He ate all his breakfast (which surprised me because he hasn't packed it away in a very long time) and away we went. He tried to pee; nothing came out.
My husband and I went to the vets office with him. He was suddenly perked up, vibrant even. We took him for a walk instead of waiting in the waiting room and he tried to pee, several times, and nothing came out. His kidneys were shutting down. We got into the room and we knew. The doctor examined his back leg and said the cancer has spread. The mass is hard. TCC is an extremely aggressive cancer and spreads very quickly.
The decision was made. I held my best friend close to my heart, prayed into his ear and with two short breathes on my arm, he was gone. We laid him on his side, and I couldn't pull my hand away from his head. His baby-soft ears. His floppy ears which I've messed up onto his head a thousand times and when I finally pulled my hand away I knew I would never touch my dog again.
I sobbed. We sobbed. We cried hard, big, wet tears. My husband and I held each other, and my hands shook. My heart exploded with pain and grief, knowing my best friend was gone. But, once the tears stopped I realized I had another emotion lingering. Relief. My best friend was finally out of pain. He'd be able to finally take deep breaths. He'd be able to run after the squirrels again. He'd be able to walk without crying out.
I know that from the time I met Jack all those years ago in the pet store God knew how this day would play out. God loves me and he loves Jack. I know one day I will play with Jack again and when I see him again his whole back end will wiggle with excitement. I know this because I believe in a God who cares for His people and for His pets. Dog spelled backwards isn't an accident...