Even though I don’t want to write this post, I feel that I must. To get all of this off of my chest, and to leave a record of my feelings and thoughts during this hard time.
Maggie was not sick for long.
She had a 15 pound tumor removed less than two weeks ago. About two weeks before that, we noticed she was kind of off her food. She would only eat if we added something special to her food like chicken scraps or egg. She was getting really skinny but she still had energy and was her normal playful self. For a couple of days, she acted lethargic. We took her to the vet and they said it was likely an infected uterus and it would need to be removed. We scheduled the surgery for the next day.
The uterus ended up being fine but they found a 15 pound tumor on her spleen. They removed that and she was touch and go for a couple of days. They removed so much blood and it wasn’t clotting so they were a bit worried. BUT, she came home and was healing up good. Her color seemed more vibrant and she wanted to eat….ALOT. We were making her homemade food, lots of chicken and rice, and she loved it.
A few days later, the vet called with the results of the biopsy of the tumor. HIGHLY MALIGNANT. This is something that we were prepared for. The tumor was nasty looking and we knew something that big growing in a body cannot be a good sign. However, we were holding out hope that the spleen surgery had removed everything. Unfortunately, it had already spread by the time of the surgery. (The cancer was called hemangiosarcoma which I guess is common in large breeds and is highly aggressive.)
That same day, we noticed she was getting bumps all over her body. She had always had a few little fatty bumps–but now they were appearing everywhere. In the morning, I would find bumps that seemed to appear overnight –and in the evening, there would be even more. According to the vet, this was the cancer spreading and that he had never (in his 45 years) seen anything so aggressive. But, she was eating and happy to be with us and able to walk around, although she seemed to be more and more content to lay around most of the day. Her left front leg seemed to bother her and she wouldn’t put any weight on it–we thought it was the bandages wrapped too tightly or maybe soreness from her wound–but it turned out the cancer had spread to under her bones and into her joints. We had her on steroids and pain medications and her spirits were good. She was eating. She was wagging her tail and happy to be home.
Then, last week Friday, she stopped eating again. She was very lethargic–only getting up once or twice a day, and needing a bit of help with that. We tried to feed her anything and everything–homemade food, cheese, treats, raw meat, our food, anything. She would look at it and then look away. Throughout the whole ordeal, she was very stoic. There was never any whining or complaining. Just our beautiful girl, holding her head upright, as regal as always.
Tuesday, was her 4th day with no food. In the morning, I took her outside and her back legs gave out. She fell over and couldn’t get herself back up. Her back legs had lost all muscle and she was very weak. By this day, even just laying down with her head up, she was very shaky. Her heart was racing and she was vomiting bile.
We had an appointment scheduled to get her staples removed but after four days of not eating, and the 2nd day of really not drinking—we knew that “It was time.”
I had spent the last few days lying with her and talking to her about how fun her life has been—all the cool things she got to do, her friends, her family. I told her about her life as a puppy and how she couldn’t even get herself on the couch when we first got her. I reminded her of all of our Hawaii beach adventures–because she was lucky to go to the beach almost everyday. I told her about hiking in Hawaii and Florida; camping, her dog friends and her people friends…all that would miss her terribly. I told her about Grandma Mary and KittyCat who would be excited to greet her when she moved on. I told her over and over again that she didn’t need to fight so hard for our sake. We would be OK and she could finally be at peace.
The vet was shocked at her condition when we walked in. She had been there only a few days before and in that short time she had really gone downhill. The vet pointed out the indication of jaundice in her eyes and that her liver was shutting down. They had seen spots on her liver when they had opened her up the first time. He assured us we were doing the right thing.
She didn’t fight at all when we put her on the vet’s table (and she had at her previous visit). He injected her with an anesthesia…and she slowly just laid her head down. At this point, I told gave her a final hug and kiss and had to leave the room before he injected the phenobarbital—but Aaron was with her, holding her head, whispering to her. And, after about 30 seconds, her heart stopped.
It was and continues to be very hard. Never losing an animal like this, I had no idea how difficult it could be and will just break out into tears at random times during the day. I did go to work yesterday, but had to keep my office door closed because little things would trigger me to break down. I take a little consolation in knowing that she didn’t suffer for long. She was sick for about two weeks and before that she had a fun and happy life–a complete member of our family.
If you had met her, you know that Maggie was a very special girl. She was very smart, loyal and fun. She was the ultimate beach dog, hiking dog, family dog. She was amazingly well behaved and would always get compliments on her behavior. People were amazed that she would lay down until she was told to get up–even if it was 30 minutes later, even if she was being taunted by treats or dogs that wanted to play. She would go for swims during the middle of the day; we would come home and she would be relaxing in the pool, by herself. The cats liked her and Sassy would curl up on her head and sleep. She was always eager to greet us at the door and we loved to watch her run like a race horse around the yard. She had such a beautiful run.
Words cannot express how much we will miss you.