In the past, with dogs who have needed help to pass, I have always had a sense of certainty. Something told me the dog was ready to go, that it was time. With Charley, I did not have that certainty. Over the past twenty-four hours, in moments when her ears pricked up as I entered a room, or she rubbed her head against my knee, or pranced two or three steps toward me with a happy grin on her face, she wasn’t ready to go. And in moments when she stood pressing her head against the wall, or falling onto her side, or spread eagled on the kitchen mat looking at me with despair and helplessness, perhaps she was.
But for today, at this moment in time, she will continue to breathe in the summer air, to receive pats and cuddles, to be handfed if necessary and guided by my hand when she needs it. It may be that my vet will be returning for a final time tomorrow, or next week, or next month. But for now, it is not time.
My vet gave her a thorough check up. In all likelihood, Charley has a lesion/tumor in the frontal lobes. Her pupils are non-responsive to light (though she did flinch and jerk away when the light was shone in her right eye), and her blink reflex is negligible. She does track movement some of the time, but that may be in response to scent rather than sight. There are other signs of problems, too, suggesting a lack of connection between the brain and the body. We took a blood sample to check for infection, liver enzymes, etc. (I’ll have the results on that tomorrow) and she has been started on some medications for pain, infection, and diarrhea. Her last blood test was only about four months ago, and it was clear. If nothing new shows on this blood test, then that will help solidify the frontal lobe lesion diagnosis. For that, the future is bleak.
There are some who will say I should have let her go – that a dog who staggers, falls down, is lost, gets trapped in corners should be released. Had I let her go, there would be some who would say there was no need to end her life, that it was for my convenience, that such problems can be managed. They are welcome to their opinions; may their certainty be present in their decisions with their own animal companions. But the decision that was made today is between my vet, myself, Charley and the Great Spirit. It is a decision the vet and I are comfortable with, and I think Charley is, too. In true Charley form, she was the only one of my critters who met the vet at the door and stuck around to say goodbye when she left!
I have always said I would rather help a dog to pass a week too early than a day too late. May I have the wisdom to know when it is time, and not leave it a day too late.
Rock on, Charley girl, you are very much loved.