Paw Prints Forever on My Heart, RIP Sebastian and Daisy

A photo of my Sebastian (grey and white) with Bonkers. I used to love waking up in the morning and seeing that he had joined the family on the bed overnight.

Last month, I really cursed out this town. I know I wrote a comical post about how I live in a small town, but this one night, it really pissed me off. My Sebastian died. He was the youngest of all my cats, and the one I worried least about, health-wise, other than the fact that he was overweight. (He’d been homeless at one time and that fear of where and when his next meal would come, seemed to always be with him.)  I cursed this town because the only fully staffed emergency vet care is through the sanctuary but they have been short staffed, and even if they weren’t, the policy is that sanctuary animals get preference over employees’ animals for medical care. I understand this, as there are over 1700 animals at the sanctuary and they are the clinic’s first priority. There is a local vet and they have been amazing with the care of my Bonkers, simply amazing. But there are only two of them, and well, they have to go home sometime, so the closest 24 hour emergency animal clinic is in St. George, which is about 75-80 miles away.  While I understand all of this logically, when you are holding an unresponsive animal in your arms, all logic goes out the window. 

Whenever I saw Sebastian sitting like this, I just wanted to go "bonk!" on his tummy. :-)

Whenever I saw Sebastian sitting like this, I just wanted to go “bonk!” on his tummy. 🙂

Sebastian was my most *chill* cat – that’s literally the way I would describe him. Max’s second-in-command. The one half of Double Trouble. The boy who was my welcoming committee whenever a new animal came into the house. The boy who used to always greet me at the door to my apartment, and whom I could always hear jump down and hit the floor as I walked toward the door.  The one who would always try to sharpen his claws on the carpet right outside my door, never mind the fact that I had about two or three scratching posts INSIDE the apartment. 🙂 The one that would be eating at the same time as Max, and without making any sound, they would just look at each other and try to trade plates of food.

Ah Sebastian....this was him sleeping on the dog's bed. Osito was about 1/3 his size, by the way. That didn't stop him from seeking out really comfy spots on which to sleep.

Ah Sebastian….this was him sleeping on the dog’s bed. Osito was about 1/3 his size, by the way. That didn’t stop him from seeking out really comfy spots on which to sleep.

Sebastian would have been 8 this December 23rd. I adopted him December 23, 2011. I remember I only had about $100 in my bank account that day (barely any savings and lots of credit card debt), but I had enough to afford his adoption fee. Something about his face on the shelter’s website, and the story behind his being there just really reached out to me. His owners had been evicted, and so they just put him out on the street to fend for himself. Nice, huh?  (Sometimes I truly hate people.)  But, it’s why I do what I do now for work. Because I can’t fix all those heartless people who treat animals as if they are just things, or property, to be thrown away when they no longer serve their purpose or when they’ve become an encumbrance. Never mind that your pet has feelings and a heart and everything….but I digress.

I loved seeing Sebastian grooming Max. It didn't happen often, but I was lucky to catch this on *film*. Max definitely misses his play buddy.

I loved seeing Sebastian grooming Max. It didn’t happen often, but I was lucky to catch this on *film*. Max definitely misses his play buddy.

And who is Daisy, you all might ask? (If you’re friends with me on facebook, you already know who she was.)  Well, at one point, I decided, almost impulsively, that I would try to adopt yet another animal into my home. At first, I was looking at all small animals like my Baby O. And then I realized, well, it’s not necessarily the size that matters of the animal but his/her personality and actions around cats that was most important to me. So the adoption counselor at the sanctuary introduced me to a 12 year old basset hound, who went by the name of Siren at the sanctuary. (Daisy was much more appropriate for this baby, trust me.)

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You might notice a trend in these photos. Sebastian loved his sleep. 

Daisy had a grade 5 out of 6 heart murmur which I was told about when I brought her home on a foster to adopt basis. However, after a few days she started having some diarrhea issues and began vomiting and I noticed she also wasn’t eating. Since she was still officially a sanctuary dog, she was able to get into the clinic on very short notice.  It was then determined that she had congestive heart failure or CGF.  They then put her on a medication called Lasik (sp?) which would help to remove the fluid from around her heart. This also made her pee a ton more than she already had been doing.   That night, I slept on the couch in the RV so I could be closer to her, and kept an eye on her respiratory rate, as the doc had requested I do. She wanted to make sure the Lasik didn’t speed up her heart too much, and I was instructed to call the emergency number if her respiratory rate went above 60 per minute. I watched her closely and it never seemed to go above 25 or 30. Everything just seemed to be a labor for Daisy.

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This was Daisy, not sure how  you could take one look at her and NOT fall in love. The sweetest baby girl, other than my Osito, of course.

With so many animals in the RV, and with Daisy peeing so often, I was running home during my lunch breaks to check on everyone and let her outside. Still, the place was a mess, but I’m used to that with animals. It was also during this time that Sebastian began acting a bit strange, and was growling at her when she would walk by. I then found him sitting in the litterbox one morning, staring at the wall. That was totally NOT normal behavior for him. The only other time I had seen him just sitting in the litter box was at the shelter in MA, where he was living in a community room.

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One thing Daisy liked to do was sleep. I took this photo during the middle of a massive rainstorm. She slept through it. 

All of this combined together made me one very stressed out person. I wasn’t sure if Sebastian was acting this way out of stress or if he didn’t feel good. But finally, I made the decision that I was not going to be able to keep Daisy. It was just too much to handle, and everyone I spoke to advised me that I had to consider the animals I already had at home, first. So although it killed me t take her back to the sanctuary, because she was such a sweetheart, I had to take Daisy back. The only consolation I had was that I knew she loved her caregivers there, and she would be well taken care of, with no risk of being put to sleep for space reasons as happens in so many shelters. At my sanctuary, animals are given a place to live out their lives if they can’t be adopted out.

So, I took Daisy back on a Thursday morning. I felt like such complete shit doing it.  You see, she had been adopted out of the sanctuary at the age of 8, and at 12, her “owners” brought her back, saying she didn’t fit well with their new condo and was too rambunctious. Too rambunctious?? This was a 12 year old dog with a major heart murmur and congestive heart failure. And a basset hound. A basset hound is not necessarily known for being a rambunctious breed….GRRRRR  (Ok, I’ll stop but man, that attitude really makes me mad.)  I really wanted to be able to give her a home to live out her days, I really did.

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The lighting was awful when I took this photo but I didn’t want to disturb Daisy, Max, or Osito, when I took it. It made me feel wonderful to see them all feeling so relaxed that night.

Thursday evening, I came home from work to find Sebastian lying in what appeared to be a very unnatural state for him. While his legs and body were stretched out in a way that might make you think he was very relaxed, his eyes told me that something was wrong. And when I picked him up, his legs stayed straight out, as if he couldn’t curl them in to hug me like he normally would. His eyes weren’t blinking. His breathing was slow, but at least he was breathing. I called the emergency number and waited for a call back, for about 20 minutes, but at that point, I just couldn’t wait any longer. That’s when I jumped in the car and started driving to the emergency vet about 80 miles away. I admit, I drove like what is known as a Masshole. (It’s a nickname, aptly earned, by MA drivers, and in particular, those in Boston.) All I cared about was getting Sebastian to the vet. His breathing had slowed, and I was terrified that maybe he had had a stroke.

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In addition to food, Sebastian loved clean laundry. If I didn’t move fast enough, he would find it and sit on it. And give me dirty looks when it came time to make him move. 

About 7 miles into our trip, I did get a call back from the vet on call with the sanctuary. Just based on my description, she thought maybe he had had a seizure. But she was going into surgery with a sanctuary dog so she advised me that if I was on my way to the emergency clinic, to keep on going, as she couldn’t be certain how long the dog’s surgery would take. I remember being kind of short with her on the phone, which I felt bad about, but I saw her at the sanctuary a few days later and thanked her for her help and apologized for my abruptness. She is a very kind lady who also took care of Daisy, so luckily she was very good about my apology. I think she is very used to dealing with stressed out fur moms and dads.

Anyway, when I got to the emergency animal clinic, I ran inside with him and the vet tech quickly whisked him away so they could check him out while I filled out paperwork. I remember hearing a cat crying in another room when she came out to me and said quietly, “I’m sorry, but he’s already passed on.” I remember looking at her and saying “that’s not him I hear??” I just couldn’t believe it. He was only 7. He was my youngest. He was the one I expected to have with me the longest. He was the one who never had any health issues or scares.

So, that was all in one day – returning Daisy and Sebastian dying. I took the following day off from work as a bereavement day. (We are allowed 3 per year.) I was happy to learn that Friday night when at dinner, that Daisy/Siren was going to be going home with a Team Lead as a long term foster-to-adopt. Unfortunately, I would receive a text from the adoptions manager that Sunday (just two days later) that Daisy had passed away at that foster mom’s home. I honestly don’t know if I could have handled having two animals in my care die on me within three days of each other. Sometimes you can only take so much.

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This is how I want to remember Sebastian. Hanging with his buddy Max. Relaxed and content, knowing he is loved. 

Even now, a month later, I have questions I know I will never get the answer to. I know I gave Sebastian a good life, but what if I had gotten him to the emergency vet a little bit sooner? Would they have been able to save him? Did he have a stroke or a seizure? What if I hadn’t had Daisy with us for that week – would he not have had any of these problems, or did the stress of having her around exacerbate whatever was going on with him? Did he feel all alone in that carrier when he took his last breath? He wasn’t supposed to go over the rainbow bridge so early. He wasn’t. At the very least, I wish I could have been holding him at the time he died, as I’ve done with all the others.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. It’s been hard to get this post written, so I appreciate it. If you’ve lost a pet and want to share your thoughts, please do so below in the comments. We can all support each other.

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7 thoughts on “Paw Prints Forever on My Heart, RIP Sebastian and Daisy

  1. Terri,

    I am so sorry, big hug to you. The loss of fur babies is so deeply painful. I lost my little Muffin, a tiny little 3 pound tea cup poodle a few years ago before Christmas and it just broke my heart. Honesty it took a very long time to get over her death. She was my little peanut that was there for me no matter what.

    Please do not be hard on yourself about what you should of done. You did the best and had no idea with his young age that something like this would happen. I’m just in shock. And for Daisy to pass as well, just so difficult to comprehend.

    Thanks for showing the pictures of Sebastian, so very cute and loving.

    Tina

    • Thanks, Tina. Yep, he was a very good boy. When I first brought him home, I had Callie and Chloe. Both didn’t want anything to do with him but that didn’t stop him from trying to be friends and make himself seem unassuming around them. I know what yuo mean about Muffin. I don’t know what I will do when the time comes for baby O.

  2. I’m so sorry. That’s a lot to bear isn’t it. Comfort yourself that Sebastian had a good life with you, and Daisy was given the best chance possible. It’s always hard to loose a family member, and that’s what pets are. Don’t second guess yourself. You made the best decisions you could, did the best you could. Your pets know that.

  3. Thanks for a beautiful post, Terri. The complicated feelings that you’re describing have a lot in common with what people go through when losing a human friend or family member. It’s rarely smooth or easy in those days. Abrasive experiences with hospitals, insurance company rules, insensitivity of some medical staff, and then funeral industry people and the issues that come up after a person has died–it all gets blended together with the grieving process. It’s easy to fixate on the thing we have regrets about, the conversation we didn’t have or the number of hospital visits we made during a super-busy time at work.

    What really matters is the time you had with each of your animal friends, the love and care you gave them, the kindness and the security they experienced with you.

    • Thank you, David. I used to love coming home and picking up Sebastian. He wouldn’t react in a negative way or try to get away and eventually I would hear his purr start up. I’m trying to remember those moments or the mornings I would wake up and see he had joined the “family.” 🙂

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