At 2:45 p.m. today (December 27, 2012), my best friend and amazing dog Mandy died in my arms. About 15 minutes earlier, she had been lying on her ‘TV bed’ and made a sound that was similar to those she made when she’d faint, but not as loud and only one time (instead of the usual three deep, agonized moans). I immediately went to check on her, and she was semi-conscious. I picked her up and she began to wake up, ears perky, and looking at me. But something wasn’t right- normally when she started to wake up, she ‘came to’ quickly and was on her feet and steady. She did go over to her pee pads and peed, but she wouldn’t leave that area- she just kind of froze standing up. So I picked her up and brought her to my recliner, to hold her and see if she’d perk up. I decided to get her onto her comforter with a disposable underpad beneath it (she has had ‘issues’ with bodily functions after fainting). By then, she wasn’t able to support herself on the floor, so I laid her on her recliner as I got her situated (yes, the dog had her own recliner). I picked her up to hold her on my lap and see what was next. She again picked her head up, but then essentially collapsed, and began some slow, agonizing breaths that became slower and slower until they stopped altogether. I checked her heart rate with my stethoscope. There was silence. The entire process took about fifteen minutes as she died in my arms.
I’m extremely thankful that she didn’t have any prolonged suffering; just this morning she was looking at me and wanting her Charlee Bear dog treats (which she got), and eating Swedish meatballs (microwaved and low salt, just for her). I’m extremely grateful that she was in my arms, and not alone or afraid. She just relaxed into my lap and let go. I told her she’d been an amazing friend and dog, and that I loved her more than I could ever make her understand, and that it was OK to stop fighting the heart failure. I knew it had been hard for her for a couple of weeks, but she had been so alert and interested in what was going on, and had still been eating (though becoming very picky). I’m so thankful that she took the reins, and it was fast. I had agonized with the decision to put her to sleep last week, but unlike my last dog, the signs weren’t so clear. Mandy was still invested in life…until she wasn’t. The end left no questions.
I’d called my dad when I noticed something wasn’t right, and he came over as fast as he could- thinking at best we’d be taking her to the vet to be put to sleep if she was still ‘not right’, or at worst to the animal crematorium. I also called my birth-mother. She’s been keeping up with the gradual decline. Mandy was ‘gone’ when dad got here, which was OK, since it gave me a few moments alone with her during that time when everything changes and the order of my world began the process of adapting to the void left behind without her. I know it’s a process, and that I’ll be a mess on and off for a while. I’ll miss her for a long time, just as I still miss the one before her, and the one before her.
I can’t explain in human words how much I loved that dog. There is no ‘dog-language’ to explain how important she was as the one living thing I saw more than anybody else. Being home 24/7 about %98 of the time, she was my sole companion and closest friend. All I could do was to do all I could do, and I did. I have no regrets about the level of treatment for her congestive heart failure. I have no regrets about letting her lead the way as far as when she was ‘done’ (and she was quite decisive 🙂 ). I only know that there’s a hole in my heart left by her absence that will be raw for a while. I know I’ll get another dog, though none of my dogs have ever replaced her predecessor. They just grew in my heart in their own way.
Thanks to the vets and staff at the Mulford Animal Hospital in Rockford, IL. You have been so caring, and kind.
Mandy Bluebonnet Tumbleweed- my forever friend, who never let me down and always lifted me up. ❤