Friday, September 12, 2008

Goodbye is the saddest word

I'm new at these post, so bear with me. Leo is the one who has a gift for writing. He has always 'bugged' me to write on here, but I just never felt I could put into words what I'm thinking. I still don't think I can, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

Leo wrote a post on the 6th talking about Maggie and how saying good-bye is never easy. Last night, we had to say our final good-bye to Maggie. No matter how much we plan things out, God always has the final word. I had hoped to let Maggie be put to sleep at the house, surrounded by family. She had been going to the vets every week for the past 6-10 months. I just wanted the final time to be in a calming environment when she drew her last breath on Friday morning. But, God had other plans.

Maggie had deteriorated quickly over the past 3 days. By Wednesday morning, she was no longer able to stand on her own. I know she was frustrated because she was me. She wanted to do it on her own. I took her out to go potty, but she couldn't go. On Thursday morning I woke to find that she had soiled her bed. I know how humiliated and frustrated she must have been, as she had tried to move off her bed. I cleaned her up and gave her lots of kisses. For the rest of the day she would have potty accidents, and each time I would clean her up and give her lots of kisses. She never once cried out in pain, but rather in frustration because she was alert and knew that she wasn't able to do what she needed to do.

As night came, I had a few people over to the house...Paul, her 'poppy' for many years, "Auntie" Amy who lived with us for a while and gave her a lot of TLC, and Lynne...Maggie's guardian angel, who came over each day at noon to give her medicine. After everyone left, my parents, Leo, Oliver & Sippi (the other dogs), and I....carrying Maggie, went to sit on the porch. We talked and laughed about her past antics. We were happy, even though we knew what was to come the next morning....but God had other plans.

As we were sitting there, Maggie started twitching like she does when she's in a deep sleep. However, this escalated into something like never before. She started seizing....hard and violent. I just held and comforted her. By the time it was done, she was spent. With her tongue hanging out and my urine soaked pants, I knew it was time for that final good-bye. I called Dr. Chinn and made arrangements to meet at the vet office. I went to change my pants while my mom sat with Maggie on the ottoman. When I came out Maggie started howling in a way that I can't describe. It was one of pain, frustration, and fear all rolled into one.

We loaded up the Hummer, with Leo driving, my parents in the car, and Maggie and me in the very back. That 15 minute drive was the longest, most heart wrenching drive of my life. Her howling echoing throughout the car, breaking my heart a little more each time. Feeling guilty because I wanted to wait until Friday and now here she was in pain and terrified of what she was feeling...or not feeling. As we arrived at the vets, we had to wait a few minutes for the doctor to arrive. Seeing Maggie laying on her side, no control of her bowels, and the tip of her tongue dried because she hadn't been able to put it back into her mouth was...can't think of a word, but I kept telling her it would be over shortly and she would be free of pain.

Once the doctor arrived, I carried her back to the place she hated to visit...the prep room. As the doctor prepared the sedation medicine and euthanasia medicine, we comforted her, telling her how loved she was. She had a hard time seeing, but her sense of smell was still powerful. When I moved away to sign the final papers, she began howling again. I put my hand over her snout and that immediately calmed her. I didn't move that hand until the very end. I had always told her I would be the last face she ever saw, and I kept that promise. At 10:10, she was gone. She was in a better place, free of pain, and able to play like she used to. We stayed with her while Dr. Chinn prepared the rest of the paperwork, and when it came time to put her in the bag, I was there to help. She will be cremated and her ashes will be kept with me, spreading some in Wyoming on the land she loved to run, chasing rabbits and getting sprayed by skunks.

Good-bye Magnolia, Pooh Bear, Pookie Bear, Maggie May...the list is long. She touched so many lives and I can say with certainty, she put a smile on everyone's face. She is something special and who ever she is with now, is so lucky to have her by their side! Thank you for being a part of my life and I love you SO much!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saying Goodbye

I've always wanted a dog. My mom didn't like them. My dad would tolerate them, but wasn't a huge fan. My ex-wife is afraid of them. So I haven't really had a dog of my own.

When I met Melissa and the pups, I finally was able to have dogs. Sort of. Let's face it, they're Melissa's pooches. I'm just getting to know them.

Maggie is the older of the two. Melissa found Maggie in a Mississippi truck stop, abandoned as a pup. Ever since, they have been companions. Maggie has been there for Melissa through tough times and good times, always a gentle, calm, loving friend.

I liked Maggie and Oliver as soon as I met them. Oliver's the younger, excitable pup who wants to play every time you walk in the door. Maggie, on the other hand, has a sweet, lovable demeanor, happy to just get a scratch or some attention, but who occasionally would join in Oliver's games, chasing him around the house until she was gassed.

But Maggie's an older pup, and her health has slowly been failing over the last 18 months. About this time last year, we took Maggie with us to California to visit the beach for the first time in her life. She has a great time romping around the sand. At that time, we didn't think she'd make it to the end of the year.

She surprised us, and for a while, she seemed to be getting better. But in the last few months, her health has taken a turn for the worse. Maggie's health has been progressively deteriorating, with her liver and kidneys starting to fail and arthritis making her hips weak and making it hard for her to manage the stairs in the house.

Melissa has done everything she can, from medications to acupuncture. We've even given given her fluids by way of a subcutaneous needle multiple times a week. I developed a knack for getting the needle in the right spot for a quick drip. And Maggie tolerated all of it. Yes, sometimes she would hide in the bedroom when it was time for the drip, or head downstairs when Melissa was ready to give Maggie her meds. But she never lost her sweet disposition, and she seemed to understand that it was all being done to take care of her.

In the end, it's not enough. Melissa had told the vet to let her know when it was time, when Maggie was in enough pain or discomfort that it would be wrong to keep going. Last week, Dr. Chin said "It's time." Melissa had to make the difficult decision to put Maggie down. On this coming Friday, Maggie's vet will come to the house to euthanize Maggie at home, in a place where she's comfortable, around family. Melissa's folks will be here to say goodbye. Over the past few days, Maggie has been going around to friends' houses to say goodbye. In a few more, the rest of us will say goodbye as well.

When I started this blog, I picked a name that I thought was fitting to our lives. With two pups, Carolyn and Melissa, the name was pretty simple. I don't think I'll change it. Even in the short time I've known her, Maggie has been an integral part of our lives as a family, and I think it would be appropriate to leave it as is.

I took the picture above this morning at the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. As usual, she put up with us posing her, getting her in the right position for the shot, still as sweet as ever.

I always wanted a dog. I'm glad I got to know Maggie.