Comforting animals at the end: a plea for them

 

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Capturing Snuggles mid-shake, enjoying his walk in the cool mountain air

I would like to ask a favor of you, the reader.  As you read through this, if you feel like it’s touched you in some way, or you think that there is someone out there who can benefit from reading it, I would ask you to share it with them.  Thank you.

I came home from work yesterday and said to my roommate, “I need to go somewhere with Snuggles and feel the sun on my face.”  You see, right before I left work, some folks brought in their 14 year old dog to have her euthanized.  She was a total sweetheart, and I could tell that they loved her.  But when it came time to be with her at the end, they decided they couldn’t be there through the procedure with the doctor.

I brought treats into the visiting room for her, and she eagerly gobbled them up.  (Chicken and yogurt, in case you’re wondering.) When her parents left the room, she tried to scramble after them.  She thought she was leaving too.  But her arthritic legs wouldn’t let her move fast enough. It broke my heart.

I took her into the back to our treatment area, and offered her treats again.  She had no interest in them whatsoever.  She kept staring at the door toward where she had last seen her family.  Why weren’t they with her?  I could see the confusion in her eyes, and knew she was afraid.  I petted her all over her back and hair was just shedding off of her nonstop.  A coworker got her some water in case she was thirsty.  But no, her panting was stress panting.  I kept hugging her and kissing her head on the head.  It’s all I could do.

One of the nurses said it used to bother her when owners wouldn’t be there during the euthanasia procedure with their pets, but she’s gotten used to it.  Me, I NEVER want to get used to that.

I wished I could offer to take over her care and let her live just one day longer.  But I couldn’t, and maybe it was truly her time to cross over.

 

snuggles profile.jpgA few times, when we have not been busy out front at the desk, I’ve asked my coworkers to cover for me so that I can comfort an animal at the end.  I tried to do this for this pup, whispering to her, “it’s okay, it’s okay, shhh, shhh,” but the doctor was having problems with her veins, and finally the pup lost her patience and nipped at her.  So I had to leave as she was muzzled.  If she bit me, my doctor would get into trouble for it.  I’m a receptionist who loves animals, not a veterinary technician.

Imagine at the end of your life, you’re scared, you don’t know who any of these people are with you, but you see a white coat and it scares the crap out of you.  So you lash out and for that, you get a muzzle put on you.

I understand why they had to muzzle her.  I do.  The human part of me does, anyway.  But that inner child that has always felt like I sometimes understand animals better than I do humans — that part grieved for her.   I wanted to be with her, to tell her that she was loved, that she was going to be okay, and wouldn’t feel any more pain as she slowly fell into a very deep, never-ending sleep.

The vet that performed the procedure is amazing when it comes to her love of animals, and that is why she is my vet.  She’s been a vet for many, many years, and I’m sure it doesn’t get any easier.  I’m sure that’s part of why she tries so hard to heal them and keep them alive.

Here is my plea to animal parents out there.  I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your pet.  I know, believe me.  I’ve comforted so many of you in our visiting room as you make that difficult decision.  And each time, it touches another part of my heart.   To many of you, I know they are a member of your family.  Please think of how it would feel to you at the end of your life, to not have one familiar face around you.  You’re not sure why you’re being stuck with needles, and you’re confused.  No one can explain it to you in a language you understand.  Please rethink not being with them at the end.  Your pet has given so much love to you during their (comparatively) short stay here on this earth.  Think of this as your last gift that you can give to them, to be with them at the end.

And if you still cannot bring yourself to do it, then just know that there is at least one person who will love them and hug them and comfort them at the very end.  That person is me and the countless other “me’s” that just wear other faces. We will do the best we can for your baby, but just know it’s not the same as feeling the comforting hands and kisses and words from you, their parent.

Please know, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty or sound like I am lecturing.  I am simply trying to give a voice to those who can’t speak in our language, but who definitely feel many of the same emotions as we do.

Please enjoy the pictures of my little Snuggles enjoying his “mommy and me” time as well as the beautiful flowers I saw the other day at the ABQ BioPark.   Take time out to savor the little things in life.

Thank you, as always, for reading.  And if you think there is someone out there who should read this, please do share it with them.  Thank you.

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Lot Going On…

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Taken during my off-roading adventure yesterday, something I won’t ever forget.

Sorry it’s been a few weeks since I last updated everyone as to what is going on. It’s been a busy few weeks, and I have been working a fair amount of hours, only to grow larger, I suspect, over the summer. That’s ok, because any overtime I make will be going to pay off debt and save up cash for the leaner times.  Also, the way the internet works out here is not so reliable. For me to even be typing this, I have my chromebook tethered via USB to my phone and am using my cellular data. To get satellite internet at my apartment was going to be a huge hassle and a half, involving drilling through the roof (don’t even get me started) and quite expensive. I have decided to just buy more data for my phone if the need arises.

So…ok, where do I start?!

So, you might be wondering – did I sell the RV? Yes!!! I sold it to someone who used to work at the resort where I currently work. He was so happy when he drove away with it. I’ve moved into an apartment and there was a bit of a hassle over the furballs. That’s all I can really write about it publicly, but suffice it to say, it was stressful.  Then about a week and a half ago, when I went to a neighbor’s to hang out, I left my door closed (or so I thought) but unlocked. I came home a few hours later to find my door standing open, and Max and HoneyBun had flown the coop. We get high winds here sometimes, and the wind had blown the door open.  To say I was panicked is an understatement!

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HoneyBun, exhausted after her second escape to the outside world. Never letting that little one out of my sight again!

Max was returned to me the next night, but HoneyBun was on the lam for almost a week until I was able to catch her in a trap that a friend loaned me. She has since made a break for it once, and now I’m even more paranoid of opening the door and OCD-ish when making sure the door is locked every time I step foot outside of the apartment, even if it’s to sit on my own patio. I’ve ordered a flexi-gate to put near the door to act as another barrier – it should arrive in a few days.

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This photo epitomizes the sweetness of Bonkers, how he used to curl his paws when he slept, and how sweet and big his heart was. In his sleep, he kept moving closer and closer to Osito until they were touching. ❤ Bonkers. RIP.

I have some sad news, and it relates to my oldest cat, Bonkers. On the day after Max and HoneyBun escaped, I left work early to come home and search for them. Bonkers was having issues pooping, as he has had over the past year or so (he has dealt with constipation issues, an irregular colon, kidney failure and a heart murmur.) I called the local vet immediately, who was triple-booked, but they urged me that if I could bring him down within the hour, I might be able to get him seen.

Well, a few weeks before this episode, I ended up having to drive 150 miles one way to the town of St. George, in Utah, to help Bonkers out with another pooping issue that required sedation. At that time, because of his heart murmur and other health issues, the doc had wanted to do some blood work before putting him under sedation. His blood work came back and showed high calcium levels, which I learned usually means cancer. However, they couldn’t see a tumor at the time.

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After only one day of being on the run, Max seemed very happy to be at home and has stuck close by my side ever since. This photo was taken the day after he was returned (a helpful neighbor called me when Max found his way into their courtyard.)

Fast forward to the day that I took him to the local vet, who felt around his bum area and noticed it felt quite hard. He felt his colon and said that the lactulose which I had been giving him religiously was doing its job and his stool was soft as it should be. But he had a tumor growing near that area which was making his “exit” hole that much smaller, and therefore harder for him to defecate. The doc said that with anal gland tumors, they usually grow fast and are very malignant. If I wanted to consult with a specialist, he predicted it would mean a large medical bill, surgery, chemo, and in the end, a totally incontinent cat of 15 years. It was clear Bonkers didn’t feel well that am, and I had noticed he had not been eating as much the past few weeks, nor was he sitting still for his subcutaneous fluids like he used to.  So, I decided to do what was best for Bonkers, and he crossed over the rainbow bridge on April 15th.

Now that Max and HoneyBun have been safely returned to me, I feel like I can finally properly mourn Bonkers. I’ve arranged for him to be individually cremated, and I plan on donating all of his unused medicines to the local vet. The local vet said that while he can’t re-sell the meds himself, he can offer them to an owner who might come in in the future with a pet needing such expensive meds but can’t afford them. (I was able to buy them all at cost from the animal clinic with my former employer.)

I’ve been working as a supervisor of the resort’s campground, but have recently acknowledged what my physiological system has been telling me, and which I suspected was the case – I don’t like being The Boss, and dealing with all those stresses being The Boss entails. So I have asked to be moved to the role of Team Lead. I will still do a lot of what I am doing now – dealing with campers/customers, but not with all of the stresses of having to discipline employees, etc.  So right now I’m in a transition period where we are hiring lots of new employees for the summer, and working with my (temporary) replacement in the supervisory role. And yes, there have been some rough patches. Nothing is ever easy. I wish it was, but lately, that just doesn’t appear to be the case where my life is concerned.

I do like living in the apartment. I love taking long hot showers, and being able to even turn around in my bathroom! I love being able to do a load of laundry while I sleep at night. I love living close enough to work so that I can drive home the 2-3 miles at lunch and visit my furballs. I love living so close to Lone Rock that I can even see it from the front patio of my apartment. I love the fact that in April, just yesterday, I was in a tshirt and shorts and sitting at the beach, even if only for a short while after I volunteered at the local animal shelter. And yes, I have loved taking some of their energetic doggies for walks.

I am having a problem setting into a routine, however. I’ve not worked out in weeks now (shock, gasp!) because getting to work by 7 or 7:15 in the am already requires me to get up pretty early and after being on my feet all day, I just don’t feel like going for a run. And I’ve not been writing (obviously, as you’ve seen from the lack of posts on the blog). Until a few weeks ago, I’ll be quite honest. I was so stressed out of my mind on a daily basis from one thing or another that it was all I could do to get msyelf to eat an entire bagel for breakfast without feeling like I wanted to puke. That’s how I get affected by stress.

But lately, my stress level has been coming down somewhat, and I’m working on getting my positive attitude back on a more regular basis. I’m feeling like I can eat food again.  i did lose some much needed weight during those stress-filled weeks, so that was actually a good thing, in retrospect. And, I learned some valuable information about myself, so that was also good.

Well, this has been a rambling catch-up post, and I hope some of you are still out there, interested to read it. Please drop me a line or comment below if you like. I promise to write more now that I am slowly getting established. And I want to write more fiction as well. The book dream has not left me – it just got misplaced during the move and the following stress.

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.  Read more