I had a stressful weekend last week. Since my dogs get me up at all hours of the night, I had decided that I was going to sleep in late on Saturday morning. I was still lounging in bed when I heard the dogs downstairs barking at the front door a little before 10:00 in the morning. I figured it was the mailman since my mail is delivered about that time. But the dogs kept barking. It must be someone at the door. I went into the front bedroom and peeked out the window and saw my ex’s truck drive away. I knew that one of his dogs that we had had in common when we were still married was having health issues. I was afraid that maybe Casey had taken a turn for the worse or even passed away.
I threw on my clothes and brushed my hair and drove to the antique shop where my ex’s coin shop is located. I do the books for the antique shop so I’m in there several times a week anyway. I went over to the coin shop and asked my ex if he had stopped by my house this morning. He had. Our Sheltie, Casey, has had health problems for about a year now. In March he was very ill and was bleeding through his nose and very lethargic. With medication they got him past that crisis.
Late fall last year, my ex kept telling me that Casey was stumbling when he walked and “listed” to his left side when he walked. I threw out that maybe he had vestibular disease. He brought Casey to the vet who wasn’t sure what the problem was. At the same time, Casey was diagnosed with a megaesophagus issue. With this condition, regurgitation after eating and aspirating fluid into the lungs was a possibility. Casey had aspirate pneumonia at Christmas time and was coughing quite a bit. Also, the vet guessed that the listing to the left could possibly be a severe inner ear infection so antibiotics and steroids were prescribed. Casey got over the pneumonia but was still stumbling when he walked and leaning to the left side.
My ex took him back in to a different vet when the stumbling continued. This vet suggested that he bring Casey to a canine neurologist. The next week Casey was examined by the neurologist and they found the source of the stumbling. Casey has a brain tumor. They don’t know if it’s cancerous or not–it doesn’t really matter since the tumor is growing, it’s on his brain stem and it’s inoperable.
When my ex stopped by last week, he felt it was probably time to put Casey down and he wanted me to be able to say goodbye to him. The condition was, though, that I could only see him when his live-in girlfriend (who hates the dogs and me and will be the subject of another post) was out of town. Last Saturday afternoon, I went over to his house to say good-bye to Casey.
My heart broke seeing this beautiful, little guy. Casey is a handsome sable color-headed white Sheltie. I remember when we got him as a puppy. We were living in AZ then and had to pick him up at the Las Vegas airport. He snuggled into my shoulder and shook the whole way home from Vegas to our home in Arizona. I had tried training Casey to do therapy work, but he just did not have the personality to do the work. By the time of my divorce, I had adopted Mario. Mario was a great therapy dog but he and Casey did not get along so I took Mario and my ex kept Casey.
Poor, sweet Casey was lying on a dog bed, breathing heavily and periodically coughing. My ex had had Casey to the vet the day before and he figured that Casey had aspirate pneumonia again. He gave my ex a new drug to fight the pneumonia but told him it was time to think about putting him down.
I picked Casey up in my arms and cradled him like a baby. It was obvious that the tumor was pressing on the optic nerve and his eye on that side was clouded over with white. He laid in my arms while I rocked him. It was breaking my heart seeing him like that. I whispered to him that it was okay to let go and that he had been a wonderful dog. I told him how much I loved him and I was sad that I didn’t get to see him more often but again, that’s a post for a later date.
After an hour of cuddling little Casey, I set him down on his bed. He started coughing but according to my ex, that was part of the pneumonia thing. As I left I told him that if he needed me to go with to put Casey down, I most certainly would do that.
I was so emotionally drained from the experience that I came home, fed my dogs, played with them for awhile, took a hot bath and headed to bed with the dogs in tow. I watched TV in bed with several of my precious furkids all around me and wondered about the meaning of life and why some animals and humans had to go through such painful experiences. After all my contemplating though, I couldn’t come up with any answer.
I had to go into the antique shop on Monday to pick up time cards and do payroll. I stopped into my ex’s shop to see how Casey was doing. He told me that Casey seemed to be rallying and he thought my visiting him really helped perk him up. While I was glad that Casey was doing better, I couldn’t help think that yes, maybe the pneumonia is better, but the brain tumor is still growing and causing havoc with more and more body systems. Again I told him that I would go with when he felt the time was right but for now, he’s okay with Casey showing improvement over the pneumonia. He’s positive that Casey will give him a sign when the time is right.
Believe me, I know about signs. My collie, Collin, gave me a clear sign when he was ready to go. But my Mario, with whom I was so close, didn’t give me any sign that I picked up on other than his body failing. That and the fact that he couldn’t lift his head off the vet’s examining table told me he was suffering and there wasn’t anything that could be done. So for now, I’m stuck sitting over at my house praying Casey will give my ex some kind of sign that he’s ready. Otherwise, I’m relegated to sending him healing thoughts and prayers.
Please comment to me about your experiences with your beloved pet giving you signs that they are ready. I welcome any and all stories that will help me get through this. Thanks!