Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Emma was diagnosed with congestive heart failure about a year and a half ago.  She is on Lasix, a diuretic for her heart.  When she was diagnosed, it was mild but it is a progressive disease and causes enlargement of the heart and fluid retention.  She is still an active girl, and I can't keep her out of the pool when the kids are swimming.  

This weekend, she was acting really weird.  She was holding her head at a funny angle, she had a strange look on her doggie face and her breath was horrid.  She was being extra cuddly, too.  On Saturday night, while she was eating, Sam noticed blood; she was bleeding from her mouth.  We took her to the emergency vet and she was given antibiotics for a dental infection. 

I followed up with her regular vet yesterday.  I was so thankful that it was "only" a tooth infection that was illin' her.  The vet gave me bad news, however.

She has advanced dental disease, despite her teeth being cleaned a year and a half ago.  The infection from her gums has gotten into her blood stream and she is too high-risk to undergo general anesthesia for a dental cleaning.  Her heart condition has progressed and the anesthesia could kill her.  She is 15 years old, with a heart condition.  

The vet didn't have any good options for me.  She is continuing her antibiotics for her dental infection, but he is hesitant about surgically cleaning the infection.  He took an X-ray of her heart and it showed increased enlargement.  We're waiting for her blood test results to make a final decision.  

If we can't do the dental, our only other option is to treat the infection and any other infections that come up due to her bad teeth. New infections are inevitable without cleaning under her gums, so she'll have to stay on antibiotics until she dies. The vet said there are things we can do to keep her as comfortable as possible.  He said she doesn't have much time left.

I know my dog is fifteen years old, but hearing that she is dying is not easy.  That seems like a "no duh" statement, but you think I'd be somewhat prepared for her to go.  I'm just not.

I've had her since I was 22 years old.  She has seen me through several moves, two marriages and the birth of two babies.  She is the longest relationship I've had outside of my immediate family.  She IS my family and it hurts like hell to think she won't be with me much longer.  When I think back over my adult life, she has always been my one constant.  When I brought her home, she was three pounds.  She was so tiny!  She is my constant companion and I am her person.  I am so very sad.

I am however SO grateful that I have this time to be with her before she goes to doggie heaven.  She has definitely perked up since the weekend, and I think the antibiotics are helping her.  She is *very* happy with her new soft food and if I didn't tell you she was sick you wouldn't know it. She is small, but mighty.

I'm keeping her by my side every minute, and giving her extra love.  She is the sweetest thing and I believe it is true that dogs can sense their human's feelings.  It is as though she is comforting me. 

My brother's dog, Jackson, died a few months ago from cancer.  He was a beautiful golden retriever.  My brother and his family had to put him down because the cancer had ravaged his insides.  His illness happened so quickly.  One week he seemed fine, and the next week he was gone.  He and I talked about a dog's resilience to pain and how warning signs are there when we're able to look back and see them.  When Jack died, my brother told his kids, "Jack gave us ten years of happiness, and one day of sadness.  I'll take it."  I try to keep that foremost in my mind when the thought of losing Emma becomes too much to bear.  

I have had a decade and a half with this special creature.  I am so lucky I had Emma raise me.


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