Hi friends. I know it’s been a minute. I know why I haven’t wanted to blog the past few days, but I’m not sure why I haven’t wanted to blog the last couple of weeks. However, in hindsight, I think I know. I lost a family member this past weekend. A child of sorts. One of our dogs. If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might know we had 2 Rat Terriers ~ Eddie & Lucky. Brother and sister, from the same litter. I’ve had Eddie since he was just weaned from his fur-mama, and I loved him so much, I found his sister 6 months later and drove 4.5 hours away to “buy” her ~ to this day I say I rescued her! Lucky was located in deep southern Indiana, out in the sticks, and was one of 5 dogs, a trillion cats, horses, and a slew of bugs. Her previous owners told me she loved “pizza, clams, and grapes” (the grapes should be alarming if you’re a dog owner). She hadn’t been spayed yet, and god knows didn’t have her vaccinations. I threw her in the back of my SUV and toted her home with Eddie (he came along for approval of course!). We kept the name Lucky only because it was extraordinarily suitable ~ she had a 4-leaf clover on her side.
While we didn’t quite bond right away like Eddie and I did, I grew to love her all the same. She loved everyone. She was ornery, didn’t sleep much (Eddie to this day will sleep as much as he plays), and drove me bananas as a puppy. However, she would grow into one of the most loyal and loving dogs I hope to ever own. She was my shadow. Always the first to run to the door for a walk and always the first to the food bowl. Wild & rambunctious, I will miss her spirit everyday.
So now let’s back up to almost 2 weeks ago and why I think I stopped blogging. I noticed a change in Lucky’s respiration rate. I called our regular vet and while they didn’t have an appointment, they said I could bring her in for observation for the day. The only other changes I had noticed in her was that her body had slightly changed over the recent months. Some slight muscle atrophy in her back, a little pot bellied; however, she had been on chronic prednisone for awhile due to a mass on her liver deemed inoperable last year by our oncology vet (biopsy results inconclusive). We had also started a new brand of CBD oil which was much stronger than previous bottles. I told the vet I would try to wean the prednisone and CBD oil, and if that didn’t help I would call back.
This was on Friday (not quite 2 weeks ago), and her breathing did seem better. However, by Monday it had still not improved completely. I called the vet again and brought her in Tuesday morning and left her for 8 hours for observation and x-rays. No significant results were found. She had x-rays completed back in August before a small mass was removed by her ear and the vet said her x-rays looked “amazing” for her age. No difference was found between the X-rays in August versus last Tuesday. The vet said it was possible there were lung metastasis present that weren’t showing up on the x-rays, or possible lung infection due to her immune system weakened from the prednisone. She sent her home on an antibiotic + increased prednisone.
Fast forward to this past Friday. I woke up at 3 am and could tell she was uncomfortable. She was restless and I started counting her respiration rates and they were increased. I got out of bed with her and we went and slept out in the living room on the couch. I don’t know why I woke up with her. Maybe intuition? My husband and Eddie slept through it all and had no idea we got up together. I laid with her on the couch during this time and cuddled and petted her. Kissed her for the last time unknowingly. I was 2 minutes away from getting up and taking her to the ER vet right then, but she fell asleep soon thereafter and so did I. When we both woke up a few hours later, she ate breakfast like normal, but I still could tell she wasn’t okay. I called our regular vet when they opened at 8 am and they said I could bring her in again, but said the ER vet might be better in case she needed oxygen. I honestly was relieved they said that. I felt like I needed a second opinion.
My husband was getting around for work, so we tried to coordinate taking both dogs out together (to potty) as he left, except I would take Lucky in my truck and he would take Eddie back inside. Just like always, Lucky was incredibly excited for a “walk” that wasn’t going to happen… she passed out in her harness by the door. Guys, at that moment my world started to crash. I stayed calm and got her back up. My husband and I got her into my truck and we took care of Eddie after that. Lucky waited quietly in my truck for a few minutes and thankfully didn’t pass out again. It’s like she knew. She needed to stay calm.
We arrived at the vet in what seemed like the longest 30 minute drive of my life. They immediately took her to the oxygen cage. Her oxygen was at 87% (normal is >96%). It’s like she had COPD in humans. The ER vet ordered stat x-rays. Again, probably the longest wait of my life, but when the results came back I was floored. The difference between the x-rays last Tuesday, compared to this past Saturday were very, very different. Hazy. My poor pup was in heart failure, with a likely lung component and fibrosis (meaning the entire circulatory system from the lungs to the heart and back again was not working properly). The ER vet told me she would need 36-48 hours of oxygen therapy in the hospital + diuretics due to the fluid build up. Once she was able to come home, we would need to meet with a cardiologist (closest is 2 hours away) ASAP to run an ECG and achieve an actual diagnosis.
Ok, save her life doctor, whatever it takes! ….. The catch? The vet also ran an ultrasound of her abdomen. Her liver mass, which was about the size of a golf ball a year ago, was now so large it could not fit onto the vet’s ultrasound screen. Probably the size of a cantaloupe.
The vet played devil’s advocate. She said, okay – we can give her diuretics + oxygen, pull the fluid off and get her out of heart failure. She can come home at that time, and with medication, will hopefully survive another 4-6 months until the medication quits working. On the other hand, that liver mass is a ticking time bomb. It could ‘burst’ at any moment. Guys, I was so so torn. I didn’t know what to do. The vet told me there was no wrong answer. I asked her what her quality of life would be if we move forward with treatment, and she said she would go back to be about the same as she was a week ago. Which was no quality of life. She was uncomfortable and had zero energy. Walking, outdoors, and enjoying ‘life’ was this dog’s mantra. I knew in that moment I would be saving her for me, and not her.
I’ve read about these things in the past, and read you will just ‘know’ when the right time to say goodbye is. I always thought that was rubbish, and that I would never know. When they brought her to me, I knew it was time. She was miserable. I stayed with her til her last breath. It was very quick. The ER vet was amazing. I was alone, but never felt alone. I hope Lucky didn’t either. She lived almost 14.5 years. I hope some of the best years a rat terrier could have.
Anyway, I hope you guys don’t mind me sharing her story. If there are ‘key’ themes in my life, the dogs would be #1. I still have Eddie, he’s laying next to me as I write Lucky’s story. He was the one that just had surgery a month ago to remove a cancerous tumor that returned on his leg after chemotherapy stopped working. He’s doing well right now, but now I know in a heart beat he could decline at any moment. I learned how well dog’s can hide their symptoms. Lucky likely had the lung issue for awhile, but the prednisone probably kept it at bay (per the ER vet). If you guys ever have any questions for your own pups, feel free to ask. This was my first experience with euthanasia. It haunted and helped me, and I don’t regret staying.
I still feel her everyday. I feel her presence and her absence. I will miss that crazy, lovable, wild & free spirit. ❤️
I plan on slowly returning to the blog with regularly scheduled outfit posts over the next week or so. I miss writing in this space, I just needed some time. I hope you all are doing well ~ XOXO