Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sailor's Last Day

I was planning on coming home on Tuesday, but got a call from my mom on Friday night (12:30am) saying that Sailor wasn't doing so great and I should come home on Saturday.  I planned on getting up, going for a run, taking care of some stuff around the house, then leaving and maybe getting to VB by 7pm.  I was awakened by a phone call from my mom at 9:05am when she told me that hours mattered.  I got up, ate, packed, and left by 9:55am.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pack a few things; none of them were critical.

I drove 74-75mph all the way home because I definitely did not want to be stopped for speeding because that would take lots of time.  I made record time: ~5:15 including the stop for gas.  The weather was mostly fine with light showers along the way.  I called from about 2 miles away so my parents could get Abbey outside to greet me.  Sailor was not supposed to have any excitement.  He had a fluid buildup around his heart that made it hard to pump.  He would get winded with very little activity and Abbey's excitement is contagious for him.

Sailor was laying down when I came inside and he tried to get up to come see me so I rushed over to him so he could keep laying down.  He gave me lots of kisses then started panting from over exertion.  He was a little bit cold from poor circulation.  We called D and waited for him to come over.  Sailor had caught his breath by that time and was able to get up on his own and go outside to pee.  He came in and was very sweet to us all.  He then ate some food for the first time in about 24 hours.

We drove him down to the 24 hour vet in Ft. Pierce on Saturday probably around 5pm in his truck.  Sailor got to ride shotgun while the rest of us piled in the back seat...just like the good ol' days.  Shotgun was his seat and people had to ride in the back (that changed when we inherited him and his truck).  He had a good trip down to the vet and we talked about how it would be much worse if he was suffering during the ride down.  When we arrived I picked him up out of the front seat and put him down.  We leashed him and walked him around the building where he emptied his bowels for the first time in days.

We brought him inside and were taken back to a room where they explained everything that would happen.  He climbed into D's lap when they wanted him to get up and get prepped for the IV of death.  They brought paperwork for my mom to sign and moved us into a larger room where a blanket was spread on the floor for Sailor.  He came into the room with the extension line for the IV tightly wrapped to his right front leg.  We got to spend a little bit of time with him giving him the last love of his life.  It was a bit difficult knowing that we were putting him down when he was not showing any symptoms at the time.  All the vets told us that we were making the right decision.  They say that most people wait too long and this is definitely best for him.

When the vet arrived to administer the lethal fluid, we all got down on the ground with him.  She said that it's not painful but actually pleasant for him when it happens.  The fluid stops the heart.  She listened with a stethoscope after injecting the killer solution and let us know when the heart stopped.  It was really strange to watch the life go out of his eyes.  They told us that he would not close his eyes.  Not long after that he felt different.  Almost stiff.  I really didn't like being there after he expired.  I left the room before the rest of my family and walked outside.  We were all teary.  I think it's been about 20 years since my dad's been that upset.

Overall, it could have been much worse.  Sailor was a happy and loving dog right up to the end.  He never seemed scared, but I think he was a bit confused why all of us were crying when we were in the room with him before the vet came in.  If we hadn't put him down, the fluid would have kept accumulating around his heart and the cancer would have spread even further.  The fluid went 17 days between the first and second drainings but only 2.5 days in between the second and third drainings.  They say it will only happen at a faster rate over time.  He would have practically had to live at the vet's office.  And what kind of life is it when you can't get up to greet your humans when they come home, let alone chase squirrels?  10 years seems pretty young, but I guess it's not so bad in dog years.

Abbey's been a bit down the past few days.  She hasn't been eating much (which is significant because she's normally a glutton) and she keeps laying in Sailor's bed.  She went outside and laid in his customary spot.  I've tried to give her lots of attention and maybe take her mind off her missing companion.  We've gone for a few short runs.  I got her to eat today by feeding her out of my hand.  After that she started eating like normal.  Sometimes I wish I knew what was going on in that head of hers.  I wonder how long it will take her to forget the Sailor days and grow accustomed to a new status quo.  I wonder if she is really the family member hit hardest by Sailor's death.
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