(Partial reprint of a post first published at Velvet Sacks on February 17, 2012.)
Friday, February 17, 2012
A call from the vet's office lets me know that Butch's remains have been returned to them by the crematorium. I want to go get him immediately, but the tears begin to flow, and so I wait. I wait several hours, until I'm relatively sure I can remain composed, and then I go. In less than twenty minutes, he is home with me again. His essence lives on in my heart and my memory, but all that's left of his physical self is contained in one small, simple, cherrywood box, exactly like the one that now holds Kadi. The cycle is complete, and it gives me peace. Butch is home. Nothing else can harm him.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I'm recording the following story here both to share it with you and to make sure it's written down so I'll never forget it.
As Kim and I sat with Butch in the vet's office yesterday, knowing those moments with him would be our last, he did one thing so typical of him, one fleeting, triumphant action that made me want to stand up, raise my hands in the air, and sing the theme song from the first "Rocky" movie.
Euthanasia is a two-part process. First, the doctor gives the animal an injection of a sedative meant to calm its fears and put it into a state of semi-consciousness in which it is supposedly able to hear what its family members are saying and feel their love. Later, when the family is ready, the drug that ends life peacefully is administered through an IV apparatus.
Before the first injection was administered, Butch was lying on a soft blanket on the floor. He was on his stomach, propped up on his elbows with his head between his paws. The doctor gave him the sedative and quickly popped one treat in his mouth and a second one right in front of his nose. He spat out the first one and ignored them both. The doctor left us alone with him to say our goodbyes, telling us she'd check on him again in about five minutes.
Butch's breathing relaxed immediately after receiving that shot, but he didn't immediately lose consciousness. As we sat and stroked him, telling him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him--all the things we felt deeply and thought might be reassuring to him--we could tell by the occasional twitch of an ear or a paw that he was still with us. In fact, after nearly five minutes' worth of such twitches, we became concerned that the sedative wasn't going to work. Suddenly, in a motion so quick it startled us, Butch raised his head and stretched his neck, grabbed both treats and gulped them down, then promptly dropped his head and fell over onto his side.
He was out, but by golly he didn't leave anything undone. I loved that big heart of his.
(First published at Velvet Sacks on February 10, 2012.)
(First published at Velvet Sacks on February 10, 2012.)
Thursday, February 9, 2012
At approximately 8:15 this morning we said goodbye to our beloved Butch. My heart aches to know that I can no longer reach out and touch his soft fur, but I feel a sense of relief that his beautiful spirit has been released from his tired body.
Butch's condition deteriorated rapidly in the hours following yesterday's post. By late afternoon he could no longer get up without assistance. When we helped him up, his back legs didn't work properly and sometimes his feet landed on the tops of his paws instead of on the pads. He fell a few times. Last night he could not get comfortable and slept no more than an hour and a half all night long. His breathing was distressed, but he didn't cry, and I am hoping that means he wasn't in a lot of pain.
By dawn today he was disoriented. I've posted before about not wanting to put him through the trauma of a car ride on what might be his last trip to the vet, but this morning we needed to get him there fast. As I sat beside him in the backseat of the car, he did not seem to be stressed, and I can say in all honesty that I don't think he even realized where he was.
For months I have dreaded having to make the decision to end Butch's life. This morning that decision was an easy one. This time, I knew, Butch's brave spirit wasn't going to pull him through.
I know that some of you have grown to love Butch after getting to know him on these pages, so I will offer condolences to you and know that you understand the magnitude of my own loss. Wherever Butch's spirit is as I write these words, I hope he can run fast and see for miles and miles and miles.
March 19, 1998 - February 9, 2012
(First published at Velvet Sacks on February 9, 2012.)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Butch is sleeping. Finally. He had a hard night last night, waking me up and asking to go outside no fewer than four times between bedtime and dawn. Yes, it was a hard night for me, too.
His legs seem stiffer than usual today, but not as stiff as I've seen them on his worst days. I think the unusually warm temperatures we've had have given him some relief and that his arthritis has flared up because the weather has turned colder in the last day or two. He's been panting all morning, too. I just gave him some food, a small, extra meal he doesn't normally have at this time of the day, and that seems to have done the trick. He has passed out and is breathing quietly now.
The melanoma tumor I can see in the roof of his mouth continues to grow. He has begun to sneeze frequently and to blow air out through his nose as if he's trying to clear it. That makes me think the tumor is enlarging in the other direction, as well, into his sinus area, although he doesn't seem to have any difficulty breathing. (As I said above, I think the panting today was caused by arthritic pain, and he isn't panting while he sleeps.)
Butch's appetite is strong. He gets excited about suppertime and eats his puréed meals and soft treats enthusiastically. He's eating every bit as much as he did before we discovered the tumor. Last night, not long after I had fed him and Levi, I discovered Butch standing next to the kitchen garbage can, the lid knocked off on the floor beside it. I'd put the carcass of a rotisserie chicken in there earlier. I think his arthritic joints are all that prevented him from standing up tall enough to reach that chicken. Since his time with us is short, I'd like to indulge him with as much food as he seems to want, but I know the extra weight would put strain on those already painful joints.
He is friendly, outgoing, and social, the way he was for most of his life until the dark, whiny period that started near the end of 2010 and lasted all the way into this past summer. He still asks to go outside multiple times in a row in hopes of scoring a treat each time he comes back in (a reward I should never have started). Sometimes he doesn't even bother with the pretense, just steps out, turns around, and scratches to come back in. And, sadly, sometimes he waits too long to ask to go outside and doesn't quite make it to the door.
His nap is already over. And he's panting again. I'll go now and offer him long strokes and scritches. He's had all the food and medicine he can have until tonight, and I can't think of anything else to do for him right now but show him I love him.
(First published at Velvet Sacks on February 8, 2012.)