Thursday, July 14, 2011

Abby Dies

Abby in Lake Lynn

I answered the phone as I was going into the building I lived and heard my mom crying. I knew something was wrong before I even picked up the phone because I had just been over at my mom’s after doing some chores for her. I had just seen her, and she’s not the needy type. Abby fell while going down the steps and couldn’t get up. She would never get up again. I returned to my mom’s upon her request and would spend the night there. We fed Abby and hoped she would recuperate. We made her as comfortable as we could. Other than a few guttural groans once in a while, Abby was quiet. The moans were atypical of Abby’s vocalizations. This was different. It was bad.

Later in the night, I got a thin matt and laid it beside Abby. I lay beside her for a few hours. I would have stayed the whole night but Andy kept moving closer and closer to her until he was literally almost on top of her. Abby was too weak to wiggle from under him. I thought Andy’s attachment to her was sweet but I decided to give Abby a little space and went to bed. Andy went to bed at his usual place, my mom’s bed.

My mom woke me up the next morning. Secretly, I hoped Abby would die peacefully in her sleep. I didn’t want her to die in a cold and sterile room at the vet. We inquired about a mobile vet but that vet said Abby would be better served by taking her to her regular vet where they had better diagnostic equipment. I was going to take Abby myself but I would be damned if I was going to see her being loaded on an office cart like a sack of potatoes. Instead, we hired someone who transported pets. Abby’s last ride was much more dignified this way.

My mom didn’t go to the vet so she bid her farewell to Abby. My dad didn’t even do that. I followed the pet transporter to the vet. The vet told me that Abby had internal bleeding that they couldn’t pinpoint it. The vet said they could do surgery but no guarantees would be made. She then brought up euthanization. She tried being tactful and used inane phrases like “she has lived a full life.”

This would be one of many life and death decisions I’d make over the span of 18 months. I gave the go-ahead to put her down. I went into the back and gave her a final farewell. She was sitting up, more than what she did at home. She didn’t recognize me until I kneeled right beside her. Her nose began to twitch indicating she knew who I was. She gave me a kiss. Her nose and tongue were cold. I hugged her. Soon after, she was gone.

On my way home, many thoughts went through my head. Abby had been with me for a third of my life. Oddly and strangely, a dog, this dog, had a positive influence on me. I wasn’t quite the high-strung moody person I was in my 20’s when we got Abby. I had mellowed out and Abby did have a role in that. I also thought about other people suffering in the world, trying to put my pain in perspective. I knew worse things were happening to other people. It didn’t console me. Abby was gone and it hurt a whole fucking bunch.

I reflected on my previous thoughts of what criteria I’d use if I ever had to decide to euthanize Abby. I did have to revise those criteria. If she didn’t eat, couldn’t walk and was in excruciating pain, I would have her put down. Her appetite was not a factor at all in my decision to let her go. In her waning hours, she ate like a king. For example, I gave her a Krispy Kreme donut, which she at first turned away from. An hour later, I heard her rustling around. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when I looked later, the donut was gone. Baby Girl got it.

For her last meal, Abby ate bread, eggs, turkey, sausage and a Krispy Kreme donut! Baby Girl went out in style! Even in death, Abby could make me smile.

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