Friday, June 15, 2007
My Gracie GirlA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Gracie, the Boxer mix that I took home to help gain weight. Last week I returned to work from my weekend, to find out that Gracie (who was at the shelter rather than my home due to her desire to eat my cat) had become terminally ill, and needed to be euthanized.
Back at the shelter, Gracie wasn't eating well, and when she did eat, she usually vomited. She actually started losing weight, rather than gaining it. When I saw how badly she was doing asI left that weekend before I heard Gracie's news, I felt terribly guilty. I was convinced that she couldn't handle being in the shelter, and that if she was at my house, she would be better. I thought I should have found a way to manage her and my cat for a longer period of time. Even after I found out that she seemed to be having some sort of organ failure, it was initially difficult to accept that I couldn't have prevented this.
However, I trust our vets implicitly, and knew that there was nothing that I, or anyone else, could do to make Gracie better. I was in our TV shelter and Gracie was in Oakland when I received the news that she was to be euthanized that morning. My co-workers and the clinic staff held her an extra hour so that I come be with Gracie during her final minutes. I quickly drove to Oakland, preparing myself to see Gracie lethargic and miserable and ready to go.
When I arrived however, Gracie was happy to see me, and ready to go for a walk. I took her out, and was shocked to have Gracie trying to push me around for lap time, working for treats for her trainer, playing with the little dogs in my bosses office, and finding and gnawing on a knuckle bone. I was well aware that this did not mean that Gracie was fine. She had slowed a tad, even if hardly perceptible, and she had become jaundiced. At the same time, I had hoped to take her home for one last comfortable night, and was not doing so because I had heard that she was in such terrible shape. As much as I wanted time with her, what I wanted most was whatever was in Gracie's best interest, so I decided to seek out the answer.
I spoke to A and the Doctor about Gracie. I had her with me still, and she elected to bring her bone with her, showing it off as she trotted down the hall. We had a great discussion about whether it was safe for her to hold off on being put to sleep for one more day. Based on all her medical pieces, it seemed she would be in significant pain or discomfort, yet her behavior did not reflect this. The vet had continued to try to help Gracie as long as possible for this same reason - that her spirits were so consistenly high. I was given the blessing to take her for the night, knowing that in the event that she became worse during the night, I'd have to take her to the shelter for an emergency euthanasia.
Gracie and I returned to TV, where she spent the day with me. The had a great afternoon, greeting everyone, begging at the table, chewing her knuckle bone, sleeping on her bed, and showing off, throwing, and kill shaking her stuffed bear.
When the evening was over, we returned to my house. Upon arrival, Gracie was wagging her tail and smiling, acting as if she knew this was her home, and jumping right back into the routine we had during her stay with me two weeks prior. She played with the dogs, ate dinner like a champ (and kept it down!), stole my dog's stuffed hedghog for more throwing and kill shaking, and harrassed my cat...a lot.
A little after 10 we settled down, Gracie on one side of me and Koobi on the other, to watch some TV. Gracie would occasionally pop up to fixate on my cat, then return to curling up by my side. At around 10:40, she sat up and stared down the cat. I reached over to pull her back, when she suddenly fell over, arched her back, took one last breath, and died.
Although it is sad to have her gone, I feel extremely fortunate for her that she was able to pass away, without signs of suffering, in my home by my side where she was most comfortable.