Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Cycle of Pet Ownership

Shortly after I write my last blog entry, our GSD, Abby, took a turn for the worse.  The vet had taken her off antibiotics without doing a followup x-ray and within 3.5 days she was back in respiratory distress.  We got authorization then to see a specialist but by that time she was in congestive heart failure.  The vet didn't really know why she went into congestive heart failure.  Speculation brought up several scenarios for a cause but there seemed no avenue to determine the actual cause of the pneumonia turned congestive heart failure. Although the vet specialist seemed to want us to euthanize Abby once her cardiac status was determined, we requested that they drain the fluid around her heart to relieve the compression and have them look for tumors which they didn't find.  There really was no explanation to be had.  The vet specialist said it was likely hemangiosarcoma, a form of extremely aggressive cancer that attacks the blood vessels typically involving the spleen but also the heart, liver, lungs and other areas.  Within 3 days Abby was back to the earlier acute respiratory distress so, with encouragement from our vet, we had Abby euthanized.  Putting down any animal is tough, but putting down a dog that you love, that doesn't understand why you can't make them better, or what you're about to do to  them, well, that is pretty gut wrenching stuff. When you're unable to make them better, to help them, to act in any manner that has a positive outcome, it is extremely difficult to cope. And when you have to say goodbye to another living being, especially when its premature, you always feel robbed, for them and for yourself. I believe that you give a piece of yourself to those you love (human, dogs, whatever), and when they die they take that with them, a piece of you via the bonds of love. The emptiness we feel is intense after that kind of loss. We do our best to grieve and carry on. And with the case of dog owners, at least with me, for a split second I wonder why on earth I continue to willingly put myself through this cycle of introduction, attachment, love and loss with each new dog that I adopt.  But then I try to imagine living a life that isn't shared with dogs and, well, that doesn't seem like a life I'd enjoy very much. And so I cry and try to remember the good: the safe, secure, happy, loving home I was able to provide to a discarded/abused dog and the pure, simple, joyous companionship and love they shared in return.  Abby is not the first dog that I've grieved over and she likely won't be my last, but she sure does have a special place in my heart and in my memories.  What a special girl.  How much I adored her.  How very much I miss her.

And then we begin the process of filling out adoption applications to get pre-approved for our next rescue dog.  One with an entirely different story, different personality, different needs, different gifts but still with that same eventual offering of unconditional love and companionship and such appreciation for a soft bed, a bowl of food, good care and the love and security our pack offers in return.

I just wish they lived longer.

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