October 12, 2011

In Memoriam, Goldie (1995-2009)

Last week was the second anniversary of Goldie's death.  She died of kidney failure at age 14.  She was a rescued dog (scooped off the streets) and became the most loyal canine companion.  She was with us for 10 long years.


Her passing was not sudden.  She was diagnosed with liver disease (possibly cancer) a year before she died.  We did many tests, which included x-rays, biopsy, blood work, and ultrasounds.  She was so stoic through all of them.  When we finally found a treatment that slowed down the enzymes that were eating her liver she started showing signs of kidney failure.  Excessive drinking, pain and so on.  We gave her pain medication when we noticed she was restless and uncomfortable.  Kidney disease has no cure.  It was a matter of time.  The last time we took her to see her regular vet ( days before she died) he gave us a strong pain drug administered orally in an syringe.  He said, don't be afraid to use it.  On Friday, October 2, 2009, she seemed perked up and even happy as we snuggled with her in the couch to watch a movie.  For a week, she hadn't allowed us to lift her up, because she had pain in her abdominal area.  So we lifted her on her bed everywhere, to our bed and to the sofa.  Those final days she slept next to me while I'd carefully caressed her lower belly without applying much pressure.  This was the only way for her to fall asleep.  She would occasionally twitch in pain and make sudden movements, like jerking her body, but it seemed manageable enough. That Friday, however, she awoke around 2 a.m. with the most awful cry I have ever heard.  It was high-pitched and continuous.  That's when I knew. I gave her the contents of one syringe and made plans to take her to the emergency.  On our way to the emergency vet, sitting in the back of the car next to her, tears were streaming down my eyes and I felt my throat on fire.  I knew this was the end.

When he got there, the doctor examined her.  She didn't cry as they poked her belly and her entire body.  She was under the effects of the pain medication.  Finally they came back with her and told us her kidneys were almost dead.  She said they could flush her kidneys and she could still get a week or more but she would be in extreme pain.  I said no.  I don't want her to suffer anymore.  So with her on her pillow and on top of the examination table, they gave her the IV catheter and gave us a moment with her.  My husband and I spoke to her, thanked her and cried while she looked at us in relief and agony at the same time.  We told her we loved her and how we would never forget her.  She was our first child, my first canine love.  We called the doctor in, and I grabbed her paw and put my hand under her chin while the anesthetic made her way through her body.  It was a peaceful goodbye.  No pain, no more twitches and jerks.  She was looking at me when she closed her eyes.  Her body, which had been a hardball suddenly became light and weightless as I saw all her muscles relax and finally rest.  We spent almost an hour with her after that.  We told her we were sorry to do that to her but it was best for her.  I know she forgave us but it took awhile to forgive ourselves.  My husband and I sobbed like we never had before.  They came in later and took her.  The playful youthful dog that came in to our lives was now gone.  We saw how the tech placed her carefully on a sheet.  He was an Iraq war vet and he said he was so sorry for our loss.  We thanked him and watched him take Goldie away.  Away from us, from the living world.

Her memory is still with us.  And we celebrate the day she came to our lives, on a late September afternoon in 1999.  We were lucky to have her.  

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