Saturday, October 31, 2009

From the vault - Cocoa

I wrote this in October 2008, shortly after we lost our dog.

Cocoa had cancer. I figure it started back in July when she had a weird "virus," and I actually had a feeling then. We had her back and forth to the vet at least 5 times. About two weeks ago she was hardly eating and was quickly and visibly dropping weight. I took her to the vet that Friday and again they sent us home with new medication and new food. They thought she had Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. Nothing changed by last Tuesday so we told them to do an ultrasound to see if they could see anything inside. They saw that she had some lesions on her liver and thought she might have liver cancer, however, tests for that came back normal on Friday so we still had some hope over the weekend. We were waiting to hear back on some fluid they took from her abdomen, but it still looked like she might have a chance.

Friday morning was her last good little walk down the street. Friday at lunch was the last time she ate. I'd cooked her some ground beef and she ate a little handful. I'm really glad I did that. On Saturday she stopped drinking and was obviously dehydrated. I didn't know what to do, but was still feeling hopeful, and we needed to get her medication in her, so I started giving her Pedialyte with a syringe. I gave her a half a cup every half hour, with her pills disolved in it every 6 hours, and by midnight she was perking up. On Sunday I gave her a jar of watered down babyfood with the syringe over the course of the day and she seemed to enjoy it. She was lifting her head and trying to bite the syringe a bit. She even went for a short walk to take the garbage out with Jason. I realize now that she was probably dying, and maybe I extended it, and maybe I shouldn't have done what I did. Jason feels I made her I more comfortable and gave her another day.

She was bad on Sunday night again, she just kept vomitting and once she actually fell over. But I still had some hope. I was really expecting them to call on Monday and say "it's nothing, we can give her steroids" and she'd come back. But that is not what the vet had to say. On Monday they said the fluid revealed cancer. They figure it was in her bile duct and pancreas.

At first we thought about giving her chemo.They said it would cost $4000-$6000, which would have been the last of our wedding money, but we would have done it, and put the wedding off. We've already spent our honeymoon money. But the vet and oncologist said she had little chance of survival. And that's when we knew we needed to help her go.

I am lost right now. That dog could read my thoughts. She knew exactly what I wanted and I needed her to do at all times. She also gave me a lot of freedom because she was there to protect me. We live in a strange area, and because of her, I felt perfectly safe going for a walk night or sitting in the yard. If we were in the yard together and Jason went in, she would not go in the house, even if he asked her to go in, she would not leave me. I was fine at home alone if Jason went out, and he felt fine leaving us. She'd lay in the downstairs hall and keep her eye on both doors, and I could go to sleep. She watched me constantly. If I got up in the night she'd get up too. I could run down to the laundry room at night with her, or leave the door unlocked while I ran out for something because I knew she'd watch the house.

I think the hardest part for me right now is walking. Sweetie always walked with Jason in front and Cocoa and I behind. We did it this way because Sweetie is just so nervous, she needed Jason to handle her and have us behind her. They also walk a lot faster than Cocoa and I did, we liked to take our time, and Cocoa liked to smell everything. Now I am alone and it feels terrible. Sweetie is doubly nervous now.

Jason and I and the dogs worked like a well-oiled machine. And now a very important part is missing.

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