Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Harry

I don't know how to write this post. I thought about titling it "temporarily a family of 4 again" and all kinds of other stuff. But here it is plain and simple- Harry is dead. 
My 2-3 year old dog that locked eyes with me in the middle of the street, ran into my arms, and has loved me since then only lived for 8 more months after we found him in the street: 
Here's what I do know:
-I know that Harry was a well-cared for dog with paws that said he had been out in the salt and snow for at least a day. 
-I know that within three months of getting him he had a cough that the doctors dismissed as easily treatable. This eventually grew and grew.
Here's what I can guess:
-Harry was loved, got out of his yard and traveled who knows how far to find me. His owners didn't search by speaking to the police, shelters, read signs near me, or go online. Harry was healthy because he was on regular medication. Probably for congestive heart failure. After a few months without the medicine Harry got sick. Finally after 8 months it became too much for his body to handle.
-Harry was loved. Harry was diagnosed with something fatal and expensive and dumped. Harry found us. We gave Harry the final year of his life. We filled it with ice cream, the beach, and spooning on the couch.

I don't know which version is better, but I hope I didn't make him suffer. 
When he first joined us he had such separation anxiety. He would follow me EVERYWHERE or whine and pace until I came back. I liked it though. I was always Harry's #1 girl. All the way until the last minute. Harry only had 1 bad trait. He would mark his territory. After being lost or dumped it wasn't a surprise. He was finally trained and showing signs of confidence this summer. 
I loved the way he laid
Seriously how could you not look at this picture and know he was too good to be true?
Chris called Harry my PSD. Period Support Dog. Pregnancy Support Dog. Basically anytime I felt mildly uncomfortable Harry was there to give me some love. 
He was wacky. And happy!
He was also so proud when his collar came in the mail. Seriously… The dude knew he was home as soon as I unwrapped it! 
He pranced right into Petco and picked out Rufus (his yellow dog). He knew he was home. 
He is buried right under this spot. We put him to sleep last Monday. I'm hoping writing this is therapeutic. Being 7+ months pregnant and hormonal and losing a best friend is not a good combo. Oh my goodness I miss him. 
Seriously I don't know how we didn't know he was so sick. The wacky Harry started to dissipate. Chris said he was depressed. I said that we just needed to get him more exercise because he was becoming lazy like Zulu. Then when he had a cough I started seeing what Chris was seeing. The vet said it was tonsillitis and meds would clear it right up. When they didn't they said Bronchitis. We took him in 3 more times while he was in his 2 week rounds of antibiotics. They assured us we were overreacting and he should be ok. Unless we wanted a chest X-ray or to put him out while they went down his throat to see if he swallowed something. We decided to simmer down and let the meds work. I started researching dog allergies, switching his food, giving him special baths, wiping down his paws, giving him benedryl, etc. He couldn't quite shake it. Finally we gave in and got the x-ray and a full blood panel. His bloodwork was PERFECT! 
But the X-ray found out that they couldn't see his heart because his chest was so full of fluid. After a round of medicine they said he looked 100% better and was on the road to recovery! But he had a swollen trachea and pink eye. 1 more round of meds and he should be set. 1/2 way through the round we took him back in. The fluid was back and worse. They guessed cancer. 
They told us to put our boy down and not prolong the inevitable. 
We took him home and cried and cried.
We bought him ice cream and hamburger. We decided to make his final days good while we FINALLY got a second opinion. 
Look at him below. He was so proud that he finally got a dog bed. He adored this bed. Back to the vet...
The vet told us how unlikely cancer would be for a young guy like Harry. They arranged a specialist appointment for the next time they were in town for 10 days later for him to get an ultrasound. 
Harry had had his lungs tapped (drained) the night they told us to put him down at vet 1. Since then he felt great again and started eating. 
I took him on sobbing walks through the leaves.
I begged him to stick around so he could meet his sister. He was Toto to her Dorothy for next Halloween. They were meant to hang out together. 
This is him after his fatal diagnosis. 
Same here. His appetite started to gradually slow again. 
He started eating only for me. And only out of my hand. He seemed hungry but wouldn't eat. He was drowning in the fluid again. 
I would take him out and let him tromp through leaves but wouldn't let him exercise much. 
I just needed him to make it until Thursday. The specialist would give us answers. We would find a pill. We would find a way to give Harry his sassiness and smile back. But slowly we started having "the conversation."
"We can't keep doing this to him." "He is living for us. The fact that he won't eat unless I hold it out to him says he is eating it only to please me. He only wags his tail when I smile at him." "The ultrasound is it." "If he seems any more sick we need to make the decision no matter how hard it is." "Can you dig a hole just in case? I can't imagine doing it after we bring him home and he is already gone."
I came home that last night to this. I came home to this every night for 8 months and I finally thought "Life could change very soon. Take a picture Erin."
Amazon had delivered on a Sunday. On a whim I'd ordered dog paw print Christmas ornament kits. I told Chris we needed to do them. Chris objected and said another time. I insisted for some reason. 

As the ornaments were coming out of the oven Harry crawled away to rest and his breathing sped up. 
We got into bed as normal that last night after having an emotional debate about taking him to the emergency vet. He seemed to stabilize and we decided that it was Sunday night. As long as he wasn't suffering we'd hold on until Thursday as planned. 
The next morning he wouldn't leave the bathmat for long. I didn't try to beg him to eat. He wouldn't pee. He seemed to choke on water. I knew. I knew that while he could still walk and run, and barked when someone came to the front door, and wagged his tail when he saw me that anything we did would be temporary. I had to go to work. I need my days off for maternity leave and had already taken one off 2 weeks ago after the vet had said cancer. I begged my father to take him in. If it was time to put him to sleep I didn't want him to suffer anymore. I said goodbye to Harry and carried him to the kitchen and put him in the same spot as our first selfie 8 months ago:
I picked him up even though it caused him to groan like it wouldn't have in March and I played as happy as I could. He played as healthy as he could. We needed 1 last picture together. Even though this shouldn't have happened. He was young. He went to the vet at his first cough. We gave them thousands of dollars. We/they should've been able to figure this out… I put him back on the bathmat, kissed him and said goodbye. 
I made my hour drive to work and walked in robotically. 15 minutes later I walked out sobbing and drove back home. He greeted me barking at the door and wagging his tail and then ran back to his bathmat to pant, choke, and breathe too heavy. I called my dad to say I was home and laid as comfortably as I could on the bathroom floor with my big belly to talk to my Harry. I told him how much I loved him. I thanked him for his bravery. I told him how much his sister was missing out by not meeting him and how much better he would feel soon. I eased his collar that he so proudly wore off of his neck and tried to be brave for him. 
My dad came a few minutes later. I put Harry's bed in his car and carried Harry to it. He watched me but didn't seem confused or sad as I laid him in it and sobbed as my dad pulled away. A little later my dad was back with Harry still in his bed laying in the same towel that I had used to dry him off from the unseasonably late snow 8 short months before. The next day his grave was covered with a dusting of unexpectedly early snow...

I don't know why that little, perfect dog showed up on my street corner at the end of March but I hope I made the end of his life good. I hope the ice cream, the cuddles, and the beach helped him end his life with joy. He brought so much to our life and now there is a big hole. 

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