Saturday, January 3, 2009
A Very Sad Goodbye
Last Saturday, well I guess Sunday as it was after midnight, we had to put our beloved dog, Thor, to sleep. I have had Thor for just over 13 years. He was a member of the family and a best friend. I try to find comfort in knowing that he didn't suffer long. It all started the evening after Christmas Day. Thor seemed a little "off" at bedtime, but I figured it was from all the excitement of the day and all the people that were at our house for Christmas. Around 3am, he woke me up...he was pacing the upstairs hallway and he usually sleeps thru the night on his favorite dog bed in our room. I woke Ryan up and told him the dog needed to go outside. When he put Thor outside, he was retching, but couldn't throw up. Ryan called me downstairs and said something was wrong. Thor's stomach was very distended. I called the emergency vet and they said to bring him in immediately and that it sounded like a condition called "bloat". At the vet, they confirmed that Thor had bloat. Basically, the stomach overturns on itself cutting off the blood supply to his vital organs and filling the abdomen with gas. The vet gave Thor a 50/50 chance of surviving the procedure (putting him under, passing a tube down his throat into his stomach, removing the contents and then manipulating the stomach back to normal). She said he could need surgery to remove parts of his stomach and possibly his spleen. We both agreed that given his age, such a surgery could be more traumatic to him. We ok'd the first procedure. We had an emotional goodbye with our good boy and went home. The vet called me at 6am and said Thor tollerated the procedure very well and that his spleen was slightly enlarged, but was shrinking. She said he still wasn't out of the woods and still gave him a 50/50 chance of recovery. At 9am they called and said he was still sedate, but was improving. Around 6pm we got another call and he was still improving. They would try to re-introduce food and water around 5am the next morning (Saturday). According to the treatment log, Thor was sleeping soundly and comfortably. I called Saturday around noon for an update and they said Thor was keeping food and water down and no signs of re-bloating. Then the best words came...we could pick him up later in the afternoon!
We picked Thor up around 2pm. He was so sad looking. He couldn't control his bladder in the lobby and when we got him outside he collapsed in exhaustion. We questioned if it was too early to take him home but we were told the best place for him to recover was at home. My dad came over to help Ryan get Thor inside. Still on his favorite bed, they had to use it like a stretcher to get Thor inside. We put his bed in front of the fireplace and turned it on. We both laid with him and gave him lots of "scrubs" (aka pet him). I had to feed him "meatballs" of moist dog food the vet sent us home with and give him water thru a syringe. I was only able to get him to eat the meatballs that had his meds in them and this was basically force feeding. He had no interest...anyone who knew Thor knows this is very out of character.
Ryan went to make an appearance at a friend of ours 30th birthday party and I stayed home with Thor. My mom and dad came over in case I needed help. Before Ryan left he tried a few times to get Thor up to go outside...he wouldn't budge. When Ryan got home, he tried again. It was as if Thor was paralyzed in his hind legs. His breathing was also starting to appear labored. We called the vet again and she recommended bringing him back in for reassessment. She said he should have been moving around by now. I was a mess...I just knew that if Thor went back, he wasn't coming home. My dad and Ryan went. I told them if it was bad, I wanted to be there. My dad called my mom a short while later. It wasn't good. Thor was in pain. His heart was beating about 3x's faster than it should have been. The vet told Ryan she could try some things that would maybe buy us up to 2 months with Thor. I knew the quality of his life would not be there and that it would be selfish on my part to make him suffer any longer. Ryan and my parents were worried about me and they all thought it was best that I didn't go up there. Ryan promised me he would stay with Thor the entire time and tell him how much I loved him. He did just that and gave him "scrubs" the whole time. Ryan said that once he passed, he seemed to "smile". It was one of the hardest decisions, but I know we made the right one for Thor.
The next few days were very sad and while we are still sad today, I had a sense of peace once Thor's ashes were back here with us. We will probably bury him on a hill in our backyard this spring, once the ground softens. We are dog sitting my sisters golden retriever as well...and we were when all of this started too. Having her here has helped a little, I think. She goes home today, so we'll see how we feel after she leaves. She keeps looking around for Thor. :(
So many people have been very supportive and we are so thankful for that. I know that Thor will be watching over his little brother and sisters when they arrive in this world. I only wish he would be here to greet them too.