Monday was a terrible day for her. The vet had warned us that the cancer had probably already spread to her organs and once it affected her kidneys and stomach she would have some problems with eating and controlling her bladder/bowels. Mason and I had decided long ago that if our pet ever lies on the bed whining in pain, or becomes too sick to control their functioning, we're making "the appointment." So on Monday, when Maddy hadn't eaten anything for almost three days and had vomited in several places, we thought we were surely closing in on that date.
At one point, Mason called up to me from the basement, "You need to get her outside!" and I ushered Maddy quickly out the door. She had gotten sick in the basement and had momentarily lost a little bowel control. Now, I have friends who have dogs that poop on the floor when they're mad or if they haven't been out in four hours, but Maddy hasn't had an accident like that since she was a tiny puppy. And when that happened on Monday night, she looked at me like all of her dignity had been stripped away.
When I opened the door for her to come back inside, she slowly crept toward me and then, rather than coming inside, she just lay down on the snowy deck. She looked at me with those adorable brown eyes (you know the ones-- the ones that made us fall in love with her in the first place) and just put her head in my hands. It was one of the more sadder moments in my life. I asked her to come inside, reassuring her that she wasn't in trouble, that she's just a very sick pup. Still, she resisted and chose to quietly lie on the deck in the still, peaceful, night air. She eventually moved down to the grass and stayed there until I bundled up and went out a few minutes later.
I won't bore you with the details of "our" conversation, but as I sat in the snow with my sick baby, I told her all the things that have been running through my mind the past three days. I told her that she was the best dog anyone could ever have (even though she's the only dog I've ever had), I told her that she taught me so much--about so many things, I reminded her of so many happy times we spent together. I apologized to her for losing my temper when she rolled in nasty dead animal or when she ate my favorite underwear. I swore to her that I'd be with her until the end and that Mason & I would keep her as comfortable as possible as long as she let us know when it was time.
And then, as if she understood everything I just said, she laid her head in my hands and closed her eyes. In some ways, I wish that had been her moment-- it was so peaceful and quiet and serene. We sat like that for what seemed like hours, until Mason opened the door and mentioned something. Eventually, both Maddy and I made our way inside to spend what I was certain was one of our last nights together.
But yesterday, our vet gave us a prescription to help with her stomach pain and vomiting, and asked us to increase her allergy medicine to help with the irritation of the tumors. And by yesterday afternoon, she was beginning to liven up a little. The three of us took her out to the nature trail, perhaps her favorite spot on Earth next to our Wisconsin cottage. We had a little "celebration of life" party for her and she seemed in good spirits. That night, she even sat under the table at supper and begged for food like the good ol' days.
Experiencing Tuesday was like a breath of fresh air. I know this journey is not over yet, but I needed a little reprieve from it at the moment. I'm fully aware of the fact that heartache and pain lies ahead, but seeing this little glimmer of light made me remember Maddy the way I really want to. My other stress lies in the fact that we're taking a 5 day trip to California in a week. Knowing that Maddy is so sick, and evaluating her health on a daily basis makes me super nervous to leave. We've decided that if she becomes really ill right before the trip, we'll make the appointment before we leave. But assuming that this prescription keeps her feeling better, we'd ultimately like to wait to make that decision.
Very few things on this Earth seem to have good timing at the moment we are experiencing them. But usually, when we reflect back on moments, we notice that the timing wasn't that bad. I know that we'll somehow get through this time, and regardless of what happens and when that happens, we'll eventually look back and realize that the timing somehow worked out. In the meantime, we're back to "one day at a time", and hoping for a few more little glimmers to get us through this transition. Thanks to all of you who have sent kind words and messages, -- they mean more that you can imagine!
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."