The period of time after Thanksgiving & before New Year's Eve has never been my favorite. Not only do I miss the daylight hours that have been replaced by darkness, I also have come to dislike Christmas. Although I am spiritual, I am neither religious nor believe in any unseen deity, & I am saddened by the wasteful consumerism that has come to mark the season. What makes me happiest at this time is the passage of the solstice, marking the gradual lengthening of daylight hours. My feelings about this time of year are usually enough for me to deal with, but life decided to throw a few barbs in as well.
My father was hospitalized for almost 2 weeks in the beginning of Dec for pulmonary/cardiac edema & to try to save his leg from amputation. He had refused to go in for treatment for 5 weeks, so they had a mess to deal with when he finally went (because he couldn't breathe). Upon returning home, he resumed his smoking, drinking, & not elevating his legs as much as he should. On Christmas day, my mother had a minor stroke & was hospitalized for a couple days. Luckily there were no residual effects for her. Both of my parents are nurses & have knowledge of how they should care for themselves, but I have come to terms with recognizing that they are the only ones who can make choices about how they live their lives. I have siblings who live near my parents & they help out during these times. I am closer to my sister who lives there, so I stay in close contact with her, explaining the medical things & giving my "nurse perspective" on the situation. Needless to say, a very stressful few weeks.
Which brings me to the last little bit... we finally had to have our old Roux put to sleep on Friday, January 4th. Just before Thanksgiving, she had labs drawn that indicated she was headed into kidney failure. We declined taking her in for 3 days of IV therapy because we thought that being there away from home at her age (14) would kill her faster than staying at home where she wanted to be. So she did quite well until the last weeks of the year, when we started seeing a rapid decline. We finally knew it was time to make the decision we have been dreading since her cancer diagnosis a year & a half ago. What was great was that since Dennis was home so much (he always has lots of time off at the end of the year & had extra to burn), we got to spend lots of time being together here with her & taking her for walks around our property. She got to eat turkey at Thanksgiving one last time. She played with her toys & chased Dennis down the driveway. Her last day was perfect, so warm & sunny we could open the bedroom window, she could smell the light breeze & hear the birds singing. We took turns hanging out on the bed with her. She ate cookies in bed & played with her favorite toys a little. In the late afternoon, when we took her out to use the bathroom one last time, a pack rat jumped out in front of her from the bushes & she almost nailed it. It was just a little too quick for her, but she felt like a young dog again, if only for a few minutes. The last couple of hours before our wonderful vet came here to perform euthanasia at home, I laid with her & just kept petting her the whole time. My arm never got tired. The vet came & it all went smoothly... she went very quickly & peacefully. As her heart stopped beating, our vet said, "She's on her journey now" & he was crying as much as I. Poor Dennis couldn't bear to be in the room, so after he walked the vet out, he came in & had his moments with her. It was so hard to let her go, but we know it was the best for her... we didn't want her to get so bad that she was really suffering, so it was better to do it while she still had some of the "old" Roux spark. We buried her here on our desert property, in a very sunny spot with a good view in all directions.
We will miss her little paws, her pointed ears, the mischievous glow in her amber eyes, the swagger in her walk, the rocks she used to carry around & try to sneak in the house. But most of all we will miss her love. Roux's passing has also brought back many memories of our other dog, her buddy, Bear. He died almost 4 years ago very suddenly during our first trip to our New Mexico mountain property, and we still think of him very often. He is buried there, in a shady spot under the fir trees.
A dog era has come to a close. While our hearts mend with cherished memories, we are looking forward to the time when we will welcome other dogs in need into our hearts & home.
I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott