Ten days ago, our old girl H was trotting on the beach with me and Wolf in Tofino and today she’s back home after a day and a half at the emergency vet. It doesn’t look good. It started with a lack of interest in her kibble, she was wheezy and her breathing was somewhat labored. She coughed a few times and by the end of the trip, she just wasn’t all that interested in going very far for a walk. We got home late and went to the vet the next day.
It’s been a rough week. She was scanned and poked and prodded as the specialists tried to identify what was causing her symptoms. Fungal pneumonia possibly, or the more likely cause: cancer. She has cotton ball like nodules in her lungs and a very small nodule in her spleen. It’s not entirely clear it’s cancer, but it’s extremely likely. Late yesterday, we decided we were at the end of the time for poking and prodding.
She’s almost 13. She’s been my podmate and walking buddy for several years. She’s the only co-worker who doesn’t complain about tuna sandwiches in the office. She’s down for popcorn and string cheese in the afternoon. She’s my grrrrr.
Bearing witness to her decline this week is one of the hardest things I’ve been through. We lost her brother a few years ago, also to cancer, but with him, we had a shot at beating it back with chemo before the tumors spread to his spine and took the use of his back legs. With H, this has all been too fast.
Her breathing is still labored, and she’s tired, but she’s home. Though we may only have days, there are glimmers of her old self there. She wolfed down poached chicken for dinner. She gave a delivery truck the whatfor. Today, when I got back from the dentist, she had moved upstairs on her own and we spent the rest of the day in my office, like always.
It never gets easier. H is part of our pack, she’s been with me and Wolf since before we were even engaged. And it’s no easier to say goodbye to her than a two-legged member of the family. But I’m glad we’re getting the chance. To spoil her with chicken, salami, greenies, pizza crusts and whatever else she wants. To tell her what a good friend she’s been, how much we love her and that she’s my best girl.
She’s lying on her bed just across from me as I type this and we watch some TV. It was a lucky day when we rescued her and her brother from a shelter in Chatsworth. She’s had a good, long life of adventures chasing rabbits in her own backyard, tromping around on beaches in Mendocino and Tofino and stealing turkey breasts off kitchen counters. Yes, she’s had a good, long life. I know this. And I know there will be a huge hole in our hearts and in our pack when the time comes.