At the end of June, I had to make the decision to let Chico go. It really wasn’t even a decision for me, it was more a cascade of events.
Chico’s last week went like this:
On Monday morning, he had emptied his whole bladder on his bed in his sleep. He did it again on Friday night. I thought he might have a UTI.
On Saturday morning I called the vet, got an appointment for 90 mins before they closed for the weekend.
They tested his urine and said it was too dilute, please let us draw blood to check kidney function.
Blood draw indicated he was dehydrated, and his liver, kidney, and pancreas values were significantly worse than when he was tested at his regular yearly exam, just three weeks before.
“We’re closing. He needs IV fluids and 24 hr. care; there’s no one here over the weekend.”
Off to the emergency vet hospital. Drive an hour, wait in the car for 2.5 hrs in the sun, running A/C & engine while they attend to bleeding-emergencies.
After reviewing records, E-vet on duty says, “Yup, we can hydrate him, we’ll check his blood tomorrow morning, once he’s stable, you can take him home, give him sub-Q fluids; maybe spend another week with him. You can go to one of our bigger clinics for imaging and we’ll see what’s really going on”
Next morning, Sunday, at 10 AM, no word from them. I call. Overnight he turned into a complete jerk, unmanageable, wanting to bite everyone who was trying to help him. “We’re going to have to sedate him for his blood draw so we don’t hurt him. If things stay quiet, I’ll do it around noon.”
No call by 2 PM. I’m doing the shopping and stocking the fridge for my brother who is arriving the next day from TX, I want him to isolate for 2 weeks, so I do the shopping.
I’m now 2 hours away from the hospital where Chico is and the other dogs are at home, tended by the dog sitter.
When I called, the vet on duty, a real blessing, Dr Dunn, said: “Since we had to sedate him for his blood draw, I took the liberty of checking him all over – teeth, joints, etc. I also shaved a bit of his belly and did an ultra-sound and I think I have an answer for you. I’m not an ultra-sound technician, but I am an emergency vet who uses it a lot, and what I see is a softball sized mass that I am 95% sure is on his liver, maybe his pancreas.”
I am driving, crying, thinking. I realize that it is selfish to try and prolong his life – he’s been hiding a painful and deteriorating situation from me for at least 6 months; Dr Dunn has already assured me that if I take him home to die, “it isn’t like it is on TV, it takes a long time.”
I call the E-vet to see if I can be with him when he goes since they aren’t letting people in with their animals. Yes, this is possible.
I go home, get the other dogs and some treats.
I take Chico for a last walk, he won’t eat treats. I tell him I love him and he never has to have another hateful nail trim. I take him in and I let him go. My friend, a vet, comes on duty while I am hugging my dead dog and sobbing. She gives me a hug.
When I’m done, I bring the other dogs to see his body, hoping they will understand why he’s not coming home.
Bonney takes one sniff and was ready to leave the room. Dan was always cautious of disturbing Chico, his sniffs were tentative. He was just as interested in the smell of the bed under Chico, the line used to deliver the meds, the kleenex in the kleenex box. So we didn’t linger.
I’ll make some glass ornaments containing a few of his ashes, I like the idea of him outside, watching the yard, and me.
His favorite place in the world, the facility where we learned agility, where he came into himself during lessons and staying there for board and train, that place was sold. Before the closing I was able to leave a few of his ashes outside the arena, mostly in the place right outside the door where ALL the dogs pee.
He had a good run with me, and he changed my life in a hundred good ways. RIP buddy.