It all happened so fast...
At noon, I was talking with the vet about him and everything seemed to be going well. He hadn't peed since his catheter was removed Tuesday afternoon, but he wasn't straining and was comfortable. I felt sure he would pee over night and could come home tomorrow morning.
Then, fifteen minutes after I got to work, the vet called--very concerned. Pickle was "very depressed" and his blood work showed that his kidneys had shut down and his liver was failing. I could tell from her tone of voice that things were serious but I thought surely given time he would right himself. I asked what could be done for him and there wasn't much--back to the catheter and fluids and see if that helped, see if his kidneys would respond. I figured--give him overnight, give him a chance. But after I hung up the phone, I knew I had to go see him. Fortunately, this is the one day of work that I have someone else here to cover a few hours of my shift.
I signed out from work and ran over to the clinic.
They took me back to see him and I could see why they were concerned. I had heard the term "crashing" before and knew that this was what it meant. He was conscious but groggy, as if he had been sedated. Even though he hadn't been. I made eye contact with him, put my hand under his paw so he could feel my warmth, let him know I was there, told him he was a good boy.
I sat with him for about an hour. All the while, it became clearer to me that he was dying. I had seen that downward spiral enough to recognize it. The distant look in his eyes, the coolness of his paws. He responded to my voice and my touch but I could tell he was distracted and already starting to move on. One hour I spent, feeling his claws gently griping my finger when I tried to pull away, feeling him respond when I bent over to kiss him behind his ear and tell him he was a good boy. In that span of time, I could see that he failing, that there would be no coming back from this.
I had had a feeling from the first that this wasn't just a bump in the road--that this was more serious than just a bout of urinary blockage. Even when I felt that peace last Satarday, I knew it was not a guarentee that he would be healthy at the end of this, just that he would be "okay"--that the path he was on was necessary and out of my control.
So, I did the only thing I could--I sent him on his way, free from the body that had failed him. It broke my heart but once I saw him, I knew it was the only thing I could do for him. That to try to hang on to him for another day wouldn't make a difference and would only be cruel.
Damn it--he wasn't even nine years old. He would have been nine in September. I guess I'm in shock at how quickly it happened.
I am so glad he was with us in the house these past two months. I realize now that it was a bitter-sweet goodbye that leaves me with the fond memory of him sleeping on my stomach or curled against me at night. I am so glad to have that, to make sure he had no doubt he was loved.
Right up 'til the end.