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Archive for July, 2020

I want to write a post exclusively about Briscoe, the GOAT dog, the ottoman, the big headed dog, a post that has nothing to do with this horrible day, nothing to do with this terrible year.  But I need to write this first.  I’m devastated, and I need to keep telling myself I did the right thing for Briscoe, even if it feels really terrible right this second.

I had to put Briscoe down today.  This sentence conveys none of what actually happened, and makes me feel terrible.  Technically I didn’t have to do anything.  I could have let them treat her ongoing chronic pain and increasingly frequent digestive issues, maybe put her on an anti-anxiety med for her sunset symptoms, and I could have given her more baths in the medicated shampoo.  But the goat dog was real sick of frequent baths and multiple medications, and over the past year she has become increasingly fragile and clearly uncomfortable.  She’s been on multiple medications for seven years, and her joint issues have been a fairly serious problem for the past five years.

In August 2014, right before her 8th birthday, Briscoe was diagnosed with protein losing nephropathy, and the specialty vet in Charleston told me that she was dying of this disease.  The vet said she couldn’t tell me any kind of time frame, that we could treat it and it might be manageable for a while, but that this disease would definitely be what killed her.

In August 2017, right before her 11th birthday, Briscoe was unable to get out of bed one morning.  I was sure she was dying, this was it, you can’t have a dog who can’t walk.  The specialty vet told me she wasn’t dying, she had a torn ACL, and it was fixable.  She had surgery and they fixed it and she was like a new dog.  Her activity level increased drastically and she lost a lot of excess weight, and her kidney disease continued to be well managed with multiple medications.

So I’ve been preparing for Briscoe’s inevitable demise for a long time.  Literally half her life.  And I really never wanted to be that person who seemed oblivious to the fact that their dog was half dead in the living room.  But recently, I’d started to turn into that person.  She was sick.  She’s been sick for a long time.  She had terrible arthritis in her front, I guess you would call them wrists?, and I’m pretty sure her other knee needed repairing.  She had a really hard time lying down, and once down, it wasn’t super easy for her to get back up.  Going up and down stairs was very difficult for her.  Despite all of these things, she seemed unwilling to accept her limitations at various times, and she very much still wanted to run and jump and romp with Ed and Jack.  But, when she did those things, she fell down, and you could tell the falls hurt her, physically and emotionally, as she’s always been the alpha where Ed and Jack were concerned.

Although she often refused to accept her physical limitations, she did seem very aware of them, and that they made her vulnerable and less able to defend herself.  This made her more aggressive, and more hyper vigilant.  She struggled to relax, and she had a very hard time in settings outside of my house, and disruptions in her routine seemed to very taxing on her.  I had to have work on my downstairs floors in May, and me and the dogs spent most of that day upstairs, and going up and down the steps several times that day and her inability to relax because she knew something was happening downstairs left her barely able to walk the next day.

We went to my parents house over the 4th of July, and she had a very hard time.  It was upsetting.

When we got back from the 4th, she was much better at my house, and she seemed to be more comfortable and I tried her on a different NSAID, and it seemed to work okay, but then last week things just started going off the rails.  She’s had several days of stomach issues, and Monday night I was resigned that the next day would be the day.  But then yesterday she was a lot better and super peppy and extra fiesty, like she wanted to prove to me she was fine.  But then last night she was sick off and on most of the night and sick again this morning.  I couldn’t get her to drink water last night, but this morning she drank water and was standing around her dog bowl waiting for breakfast, so I fixed her breakfast.  She took one look at the rice and chicken broth that I fixed for her, and promptly threw up all the water, like a pregnant person with morning sickness or a very hungover individual.

Even without eating, she continued to be sick this morning, and I called the vet and told them I thought it was time.  They said I could come in at 10:30, and they would have a room where I could come in with her. I talked to Suzy, and she told me I was doing the right thing, that it was time.

Once in the room, Briscoe ate some ice, and then she let me hold her for a while, something she would never let me do at home, but being in a new place made her feel uncomfortable enough that she was happy to let me snuggle her.  The vet was great, we’d been talking on the phone off and on for the past year about Briscoe’s various medications and trying to increase her comfort level, and I spoke to her after I got back from the 4th of July, about how I felt like things were deteriorating.  She agreed I was putting off the inevitable, and this way, we could offer Briscoe a calm relaxing end to her suffering, before things got even less manageable and we ended up in a crisis situation.  Last night felt close to a crisis situation to me, and I didn’t want to put Briscoe in that situation again – a night or a weekend where she was unable to stop being sick and I did not have a plan in place.  She has always deserved better than that.

The vet was great, and said we could do it out in the side yard that was fenced and grassy and shady with lots of trees.  It was still horrible, because telling your best friend of your entire adult life goodbye was always going to be horrible, but at this point, we were committed.  But it was intentional and thoughtful and calm and peaceful, and it wasn’t about what it felt like to me, it was about what it felt like to her.

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This was after they gave her the sedative, before they gave her the real drugs.  She seemed relaxed and calm for the first time in days, and I’m going to try to remember that.  It’s hard.  This was so hard.  

She was the best dog,  I hope I did right by her.  Ed the bulldog is very confused.  We are going to go watch old videos of Briscoe zooming, back when she could zoom, and imagine her zooming again in the clouds.  Hug your puppies, our time with them is so short.

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