This post is about my Papillion Scrapper. She would be turning 17 this coming April. Perhaps. Beginning this past weekend she starting a frantic pacing about the house, crashing into litter boxes and through the water dish, bashing her nose into cabinets and wheezing during the few moments she would stop to rest. It was dreadful to watch as she careened, falling down the stairs whether she was headed up or down them for our walks outside. I cancelled my Monday morning appointment in order to get her in to see her doctor instead.
In the meantime, as Sunday wore on, I abandoned all suggestion of writing or work and tried to get her to settle down. I did not have much success as she was not in the cuddly mood. Suffice to say, this past weekend was a painful experience for me, agonizing on what I felt was coming at her Monday vet visit. The whole time driving her there, I really felt this was the end I had been anticipating. Up until a few months ago, she had been in great health, but I have noticed a gradual decline in both her eyesight and her overall health. But this weekend was the ultimate worse in which she had precious few good moments to outweigh the terrible panic and pain she must have been experiencing. It was nearly unbearable for me and I was just watching it.
Yet in the end, as I held her, choking back the tears, prepared to give my approval to let her go, I faltered. I could not do it. Was there something we were missing? Something left we had not considered? A single slice of a ray of hope? It was possible she had experienced a mini stroke over the weekend, which was causing her blind stumbling. If so, she might recover over time. She would improve to the point of being comfortable again. And I recalled my collie, Kip, had experienced a few strokes before the end and he still lived comfortably and happily for about a year or two before his great heart and arthritis took him down for good.
However, if she were to have a tumor in her head, which we had suspected a month or two ago, she would not improve but continue to worsen. What a choice. What a decision. I opted on Monday to give her a few days, try some new medication and see if time would grant her some restoration. I left the office with her next to me, riding shotgun again, feeling as if I had cheated death– if only until Thursday. That was the deadline we set to make or break it.
Well, today is Thursday. To say it’s been an emotional week would be a huge understatement. I’ve kept an eagle eye on her, looking and praying for any slight sign of improvement. I finally saw it Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, when she met me at the door, ready to go out, I knew we were on to something.
This morning has been a series of small signs of improvement in her cognitive awareness and overall attitude. So I rang up the vet, requesting a refill on her medication. Let’s go for another week supply, see how things go over the weekend. I have just returned from the veterinarian’s office with a big bottle of medication, a bottle filled with hope and desire.
It might give her days or weeks or months of quality time. Or it might not. And in the end, ultimately I know in my aching heart, she will still have to be let go. I dread that day with everything in me. I cannot imagine how unpleasant I will be to be around on that day. On the drive back home, I kept wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I know there are days in which my chronic suffering is to the point I wish I could just be put to sleep, end my misery. But those days pass and are replaced by better days. And there is Pepper to consider. My 18-year-old kitty in which I have kept alive on a wing and a prayer, love and an arsenal of medications given on a tight schedule. Now I am committing the same tight schedule for Scrapper.
I have been asked before why I have such old animals. Most of my pets reach the double digits, many nearing two decades before I say the quality of their life has lessened and it was time to say good-bye, however painful. Quality has always been my number one goal over quantity, though I am glad they had such long wonderful and happy lives to share with me. As I point out when asked why I have geriatrics, they did not start out that way. They started out young and grew up, over time, to be old and full of years. Great years I have enjoyed sharing with them. Some folks ought to try it. Get a pup or kitten and grow it out to about 13 or 18 years. What an experience!
And now, Scrapper having had her treat and now sleeping peacefully at my feet, her breathing comfortable and her dreams happy ones, I know for today at least I made the right choice. Whether I borrowed some time today or simply cheated it, today was the right choice. Tomorrow is unknown. So is all of our futures.