For Love of a Dog

bristol 10-7-15The last time I wrote in my blog, it was about our dog Bristol who was struggling with a debilitating disease that eventually weakened his hindquarters so much that he struggled to walk.  We tried everything including water therapy, special harnesses that supported his hips and legs, a wheelchair and finally slings that Will used to lift him up and support his back side.

We watched him slowly decline over a period of about two years and every day we braced ourselves, wondering if this was “THE” day.  Did he have any quality of life?  Did he still enjoy the same things he always did? A little bit, but he sure couldn’t chase his blue ball around the yard any longer.  So we all drifted along, our hearts breaking every time we saw him struggle to pull himself over to the food bowl.

We put our life on hold, how could we go off and have fun doing something and leave Bristol and Mollie at home.  What if he couldn’t get a drink of water?  What if he had an accident and couldn’t move away from it?  Believe me, all those things happened over time, making us feel guilty for the suffering he went through while we caught a quick dinner and a movie.

We took him to specialists and spent lots of money, hoping for a quick fix, a cure for our special boy, but nothing helped stop this disease.  Cinco de Mayo came along last year and instead of drinking margaritas and eating tacos, Will spent the afternoon with my stepdad at his doctors office.   I spent the afternoon cooking a meal for us over at my mom’s house, who was recovering from a knee replacement.

Will went home to check on our furry buddies late in the afternoon and all was fine with them.  After having dinner at the folks, we cleaned up the kitchen and headed home.  Mollie2014-08-02Walking in the door, we immediately knew something was wrong as Mollie wasn’t at the door, wagging her tail and happy to see us.  Instead, she was flat on the floor, panting and obviously in extreme pain.  Will checked her over and noticed that her gums were white, a sign of internal bleeding.  We quickly took Bristol outside, got him settled and left him at home alone for the first time in his life.

Within minutes of arriving at the emergency vet, we were told the horrible news that sucked the very air from our lungs, our hearts tearing apart not wanting to believe what we were being told.  Mollie had a tumor on her spleen that had burst and she was bleeding into her stomach.  There was no hope for her, we had to make a quick decision and watch while the vet eased her pain and suffering.  We sat next to her still little body and shed buckets of tears.  Our drive back home was silent, both of us in shock and disbelief.  Bristol looked around for his pal of 12 years with pain in his eyes, not understanding what was going on.  He never recovered from that loss, refusing to eat, getting sick all the time, grieving for his pal and wanting to lay next to her.

We made the quiet drive back to Denver for the summer and fall and within a week we knew Bristol had given up the will to live.  Our kind veterinarian in Denver asked very gently if Bristol was still able to do five things that he had loved to do when he was younger.  We both stared at each other, unable to think of one thing.  We knew that we were selfishly holding on to him because we knew how empty we would feel without him after just losing Mollie so unexpectedly.  It was time to say our final goodbye once again, only two months after Mollie died.

Their deaths were a stinging, painful loss that affected every part of our lives.  I stopped writing because it hurt too much to write about dogs, or anything else for that matter.  Being home in Denver with our son, his wife and the grandkids gradually eased the pain.  We anxiously looked forward to spending the day or the weekend with the grandkids, doing crafts and silly things and going to the park.  But the days when the kids weren’t there were empty, a black and white life void of anything to love and take care of.

Dogs bring us so much joy during their lives but part of being a responsible owner is making the tough, painful decision to ease their suffering when they stubbornly refuse to leave your side, faithful to you until the very end.  Everyone says they’ll never get another dog after an experience like ours, that it hurts too much to lose them.  But a life without a dog is impossible once you’ve known the love of a faithful and loving pal.

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