Almost 14 years ago I was eagerly awaiting April 1, 1994 — it would be the day I brought home my child — the one that picked me when she was just 2 weeks old, the one that would truly make me an April’s fool.
I remember reading all the how to manuals, all the books on bringing home your new puppy – what to do, what not to do. I remember blowing a fortune at Petsmart on a dog crate, puppy training pads, toys, a comb, puppy shampoo and puppy chow. All in preparation for my little one’s homecoming. As the weeks went by, my anticipation grew. Would I be a good mom? I couldn’t wait to find out. And then the day came. It was a Saturday and my girl friend Jamie drove me to the breeder’s house to pick up my new bundle of joy.
I hadn’t had a dog since 6th grade – 1976 — that was almost 20 years ago. Would I even know how to care for her, train her, love her? Amid the daily, sometimes hourly power struggles we had over who really was the alpha female in the pack, I might have gotten mad and frustrated with her, but I always loved her. And then, after a mere 7 years, she settled into being a good dog.
So its been 14 good years for us. We’ve been through a lot together – we’ve moved 7 times in 14 years and lived in 4 states. She truly has been my Dear Abby – without her, I don’t know that I would have gotten through my father’s death, my divorce and finishing my degree. She’s been the only real constant for over a 1/3 of my life. She’s taught me so much about life and love – I can only hope that what she got from me was half as good.
And now… she has… come close so I don’t have to say it out loud, she has pancreatic and liver cancer. Its been several weeks of back and forth to 3 different vets, medications, x-rays, blood tests, ultrasound and needle biopsies. Abby’s worn out, I’m heartbroken. Seems the joke’s on us — now that we know exactly what it is — there is no cure. There are only treatments to give her a few “good, quality months”, but no cure.
I’ve been struggling with what to do — do I put her needs first or my own? Putting her through the treatment of pills, injections and chemotherapy for a few more months of quality life are not for her — they would be for me. So I could have a precious few more moments with the one I love. With Tim’s help, i’ve decided to not be selfish and do the kind and gentle thing. To forgo treatment and let her be in hospice. Her vet will make sure we have the meds so that she’ll be comfortable. There will come a time when I will have to do the responsible thing, and let her go. When her quality of life is no longer good, when I can see the pain in her face and hear her wimper as she tries to move — I will have to love her the most right then and let her have the eternal sleep.
Until then, I will cherish my time with her.