Today started like every other day. The cats woke me up and I poured food in their bowls, and Claddagh and I got up and I let her outside. I got myself a glass of water, not really feeling coffee, and did as I usually do; sift through emails, check the updates on social media.
My uncle came out with the trash, as he usually does, and perched himself down by the bins to give Claddagh her morning treat. That fake bacon stuff she loves.
My uncle made note that she wasn’t acting herself, and looked like she had thrown up. I figured it was just some stomach upset that she was looking to relieve by eating grass and then throwing it up. Concerned, I checked her out and over all she seemed normal.
As the day went on I noticed she wasn’t acting as normal. Our friend Devon stopped by, and usually Claddagh is up and very talkative when he shows up. She is always excited to tell him something. Today, she stayed very calm, and didn’t say a word. I didn’t pay much notice to that but shortly after he left, Brody dog came out and as usual ran at the fence to bark at the neighboring dog.
Usually Claddagh is the ring leader in the barking nonsense. She waits anxiously for Brody to follow her out and raise a little mayhem. She didn’t move. She stayed glued to the ground, watching Brody raise a ruckus. This was odd enough to give her further inspection. Her stomach seemed bloated but she wasn’t whining or crying. She didn’t wince in pain, regardless I found the swelling to be disconcerting.
This of course led me to Google to ask about swelling belly in a dog, which lead me to bloat, which they say is an emergency situation. Of course it has to be on a Saturday, right? Claddagh is still getting up and moving around, but she seems so lethargic. I sit with her in the yard and she pukes up the treats my uncle gave her, and a bunch of bile.
I call the vet, and wait for the emergency on-call to call me back. He does, and I give him a run down of her symptoms. He doesn’t think it is bloat but tells me that I can call back. I tell him I will keep an eye on her. I do and by the hour her stomach is getting bigger and bigger. She is finding it harder and harder to walk very far without needing to lay down. I call the vet two more times. He still doesn’t sense bloat. Finally around 9:40pm I decide she has to go in.
I want to hope for the best but I feel sick.
Claddagh uses all her effort to get into the car. We arrive ahead of the Vet, and sit out side. Claddagh doesn’t want to sit down because she knows she is going to have to get back up and it’s getting increasingly difficult for her.
I run down the list with the Vet and he takes her for x-rays and blood work. He says he will call in about an hour. I drive the two blocks home to wait for the call.
At 10:53 he calls with bad news. Claddagh has a large heart based tumor. He gives me three options; I can go to Ft. Collins tonight for an ultra-sound, he can give me medicine to get her through the night (maybe) and take her for an ultra-sound in the morning, or I could put her down.
The condition she had, and the way the swelling was affecting her; her heart was so big that it was cutting off circulation to the other organs in her chest.
That is so like her, you know? To have a big heart, so big even that it would work against her longevity. As much as I wanted her to come home with me, I knew that potentially waking up to her, gone, would be too much for me. And even though she wasn’t really having a painful condition, her breathing was so labored and her deterioration was happening so quickly, letting her go seemed like the most humane thing to do.
I told her how much I loved her. How special she was to me in my life. I gave her all the kisses and told her how hiking would never be the same.
The medicine worked quickly. Her eyes became quite dilated and then she was gone.
I had to make so many decisions in just hours today, and no matter what, there was not going to be any saving her.
I had walked back to the vet, to put her down. It was a harsh reality to walk out of there with a leash and a collar and a bill for five hundred dollars. I wish I was walking home with my best friend, or at least empty handed.
This morning there was no inkling in my mind that today would end up this way.
I have to re-learn how to be “Mandie without Claddagh.” She was the longest relationship I have ever had in my life. We spent almost every day together starting on September 13, 2007. She was my birthday gift to myself, and she did not disappoint.
My heart is broken right now. I am in a bit of a shock and I can’t imagine what tomorrow looks like without my Dita. For those of you who knew her, she loved you. She loved everyone, and always thought you were here to see her.
I couldn’t have asked for a greater love in my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.