Dear Dog Lover,
It won't stop snowing here in the Philadelphia area and Baggins isn't here to see it.
Here's what happened.
It was 11:00 on Monday night.
I’d just come in from class and Baggins greeted me at the door with no barking. Instead, he stood with his hind legs splayed crab-like and his breathing was raspy, wheezy.
I didn’t know what to do.
I dumped my purse on the kitchen table and tried to get him to come outside for the bathroom. He came, but reluctantly.
His back legs looked strange and he seemed so frail that I carried him down the three steps to the driveway.
He made a quick pass around my Saturn and came right back to the door. He mounted the porch steps slowly but with control. I wondered why he seemed to be in such trouble.
Inside, he stood in that weird, awkward way and wheezed.
Then, he stood in front of his water dish and wheezed.
I picked up the dish and tilted it for him and he drank from it. I didn’t know why he was standing that way and why he couldn’t bend to his water suddenly. I sat on the floor to talk with him and he looked at me with eyes that said, “Mom, it’s time”.
I cried and stroked him and sent little wishes that it wouldn’t be now but I didn’t want him to suffer.
Stalling, I called the emergency vet.
Cultivating denial, I hoped they had a simple remedy.
I asked, “Is there anything I can do for my dog who is having trouble breathing ?” I knew they’d say bring him in but I was hoping I was wrong. I wanted them to give me some kind of advice to ease his breathing and at least get him through the night.
Who am I kidding? Ok, so I wanted them to give me a quick solution that would magically restore Baggins to his pre-cancer health. No such luck.
“We always recommend bringing in an animal in who’s having respiratory problems.” The front desk staff person said. My heart sank a little more. I told her I’d be there in ½ an hour.
Loaded with dread and worry I carried Baggins down the hall and the stairs. He didn’t mind at all.
I knew he was really sick when I could hold him on my hip with one hand while I opened the car door and he didn’t move.
It took a few minutes for him to get comfortable in the back seat. I didn’t know why his legs seemed to be hurting so much but he acted like he couldn’t sit. So, he stood in the back seat until he decided he could lie down.
When I got him to the vet’s, I carried him in. “The Eskie in respiratory distress is here” the vet tech said. “Respiratory distress? “ I thought, that sounds so serious. “Can it be that bad? He’s had some breathing problems off and on for weeks. Should I have brought him sooner?” All the guilt and panic of a caregiver ran through my head.
The vet tech swept him up in her arms and rushed him into the back.
A few minutes later, another tech came in to lay out the options. His lymph nodes had swollen so much from the lymphoma that it was difficult for him to breathe. I could let him go now, or leave him overnight for the oncologist to see him in the morning.
I didn’t want his last night to be in a hospital.
Crying and my hand filled with half used Kleenexes, I followed her through the door leading to the back medical area.
Baggins was lying on a metal table breathing in oxygen from an oxygen mask in front of his muzzle.
He looked comfortable. Even had a little of that famous Eskie smile on his mouth. I stroked his head as the doctor injected him. I could tell when the life had left him. It was quick, and for him, it was painless.
For me, my companion of 12.5 years is gone. All I’m left with are my memories. And a house full of white hair coating every surface since the vacuum broke.
Good bye my love.
Thanks for being there.
Yours in health and treats,
Jen & Baggins
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