“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras
I truly hope this is the last bit of bad news I post. Lady Fifi went back to the vet for a recheck. It’s been two weeks since she had her stitches removed and her breathing has not been improving, in fact, it has become somewhat more labored. I thought perhaps it was a collapsed lung/or rather I was hoping it was, since that will heal. But alas, it wasn’t. The vet took an x-ray, and a second just for her own satisfaction (she didn’t charge me for the second x-ray), then she called me into the back area. You know, the secret place where only dogs, technicians and the vet go. At that point I knew it wasn’t good news. The vet had the x-rays for me to review along with her, and it didn’t take a doctor to see the results. When lungs are x-rayed they are supposed to look black . With humans, when someone has pneumonia, the lungs appear smoky grey or even white, which is the fluid within the lungs. Therefore anything that appears grey or white in the lungs is a problem. Well both of Fifi’s lungs had white, indiscrete shapes throughout. As I said before, you don’t have to be a doctor to know this isn’t good. But it does take a doctor to diagnose the cause of those white spots. Turns out both of Fifi’s lungs are full of tumors, and there is a larger pear-shaped one on the plural lining of one of her lungs. I asked the vet if Fifi would make it to Christmas, she shook her head and said no. I was devastated. I now had to go home and tell my husband the bad news. I asked the vet if there was something – a shot of cortisone, or some pills – so that some of the fluid around her lungs could be eliminated to ameliorate her breathing. She gave her two shots and some diuretic pills to take twice a day. She said Fifi will be drinking a lot and going to the bathroom a lot with these pills. And yes, she is!
I also asked if we could have whatever it is they give dogs to put them down, because we wanted to do it at home. We wanted Louie to say goodbye. I saw how upset Louie got when I took Fifi to the vet for the recheck and left him home; and how happy he was to see Fifi when we came back. I know he sat at the window looking out just waiting for us to come home. I don’t think I could bear to leave with Fifi and not come home with her. Louie would be forever looking out the window. I think it’s best he is there when Fifi goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up. At least he’ll be able to say goodbye. The vet said they couldn’t give the drug to me because it was a controlled substance, but they would come to our home to put Fifi down when we feel it is the right time. We also want to bury her, where the other dogs we’ve had and lost throughout our 21 years here are buried. I question myself and Rob “How will we know for sure that it is time to put Fifi down?” I don’t want to do it too soon, but I also don’t want her to suffer.
I’m sure there are 2 schools of thought on the subject of whether or not the other dog family members should be present when one of their own is put to sleep. I haven’t quite made up my mind, I’m hoping I have some time to research the psychological aspect of having Louie present or not, when Fifi is put to sleep. In the meantime, we will enjoy every precious moment we have left with Fifi.
On a side note, if anyone has had a similar experience, I would appreciate some feedback as to whether or not Louie should be present when the deed is done. I know elephants need time to see their dead pack member, say their goodbyes and grieve, and that all the elephants of the pack need to do this. I don’t know if it is the same for dogs. I certainly don’t want to do psychological damage to Louie by him being present when the death shot is given, yet I don’t want to deny him his goodbye with Fifi. I just am not sure yet what to do.