Allie - Final Hours
The Grim Reaper is never an invited guest to a party and he has no reservation about crashing one.
Animals can sometimes be our best friend. When it seems like there is no one else in the world we can turn to for comfort we can always seek solace in their company. They love us unconditionally. They do not judge us or question our command. In fact they find comfort in knowing we are all powerful and in control. Even when lightening is flashing, thunder is booming, and the world seems to be imploding they feel safe because we tell them everything is OK. They patiently anticipate the time when we come out to feed them, play with them, hug them and talk with them. They don’t understand the complexities of our language but they feel our emotions and they comfort us with their companionship. For years they are part of our lives. When the day comes that we must part a loneliness enters our world, a loneliness like nothing that words can describe.
For a week now, we have held out hope of a medical miracle. Our aging golden retriever, Motu, who Janice and the kids affectionately renamed to Allie, wasn’t feeling very good. Her voracious appetite had diminished and she was not eating. There were tell tale signs something wasn’t right. We would find (what we now know to be) puddles of vomited bile next to her food bowl. With some blood tests we learned Allie had kidney and liver failure to further complicate her arthritis. We began treating her with antibiotics to fight off what was feared to be a liver infection. After numerous other tests, we were informed she did not have cancer but she did have Cushing’s Disease. Allie would require an extremely strict diet once we were able to treat her liver and kidney disease. The doctors were able to get her liver and kidney enzymes moving in the right direction and then we discovered she had Pancreatitis. Allie was unable to eat or drink anything without serious vomiting shortly thereafter. Her prognosis was fatal. She could not be kept alive with an IV.
After a week in the veterinarian hospital, we decided to bring her home for a day with the family in familiar surroundings before putting her to sleep. We were to keep her from eating or drinking so she did not get immediately sick. We had a day to spend with Allie before dehydration would start to be a problem. I explained to the family that we need not scare the animal with hysterical crying but rather to make her feel loved and welcome. Like any animal, she instinctively knows her time is near. She no longer fights Cabo (our three legged dog) for the position of “top dog”. She just offers her unconditional love to us sensing our repressed sadness.
These photos are the last hours the family will spend with our beloved pet. In the morning, I will accompany Janice to the vet’s office where we will confidently walk Allie into the examination room, confirming that the doctor will help her. Janice will hug her lovingly as the doctor administers the fatal injection. I will look Allie in the eyes calmly telling her to relax and rest in peace. Her eyes will close, her breathing will stop, her heart will stop, and she will feel no pain. At that moment the room will feel huge and empty. I will feel insignificant as I try to comfort Janice and hold chaos at bay. I will wrap Allie’s body up in a sheet and bring it home to be buried in the pet cemetery in our yard. I have already chosen her final resting place and have dug the grave. I am hopeful that the rain will hold off until after our vigil. We will celebrate the wonderful life Allie shared with us and cherish our memories of her.
In the hours and days that follow, we shall mourn our loss. In the days, weeks and years ahead, we will visit Allie’s grave and remember the wonderful times we shared together. We will never replace Allie, that is not possible nor would we want to. But, the day will come when another wonderful animal will enter our lives and we shall once again assume the role of responsible pet owner in exchange for years of unconditional love.