Love Me Like My Dog Does

08Feb12

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras

This weekend changed my life. I did something I hadn’t prepared myself for, that I thought was years away. My family and I had to put our dog to sleep. Our vibrant, loveable, heartwarming, genuine pug who was only seven years old. This was our first dog and changed our lives entirely. We adopted him when he was three-years old while my mom was in the Philippines. Since the moment he walked in the door, he had our hearts. Full of so much energy and life. He could play all day long and  never knew when to stop. He kept running until he was so tired he couldn’t stand anymore. But he didn’t mind, he loved people and captivated everyone who came near him. When my parents finally became empty nesters, that dog was my dad’s best companion and kept my mom from being lonely on late nights. He loved to bark, but always friendly and loved to have his belly rubbed. He was so cute when he’d lie on his back in my lap and play with his toys. Or when he would always steal the blankets because he loved blankets. We occasionally sat him in a chair at the dining room table, and he thought he was a little person and was so happy. He always knew when he did something wrong, and could never hide it. But he’d look at you with those eyes and you couldn’t be mad at him. He was the best dog we could have ever asked for.

We almost lost him once. When we first got him, he suffered a heat stroke. Poor pugs can’t regulate his heat, and this little guy always worked himself up and never knew when to quit. Those were some of the worst days I could remember – anxiously waiting for an update from the hospital. Getting a frantic call at 3 a.m. that he needed a plasma transfusion. And then to go and visit him and he was walking around like he owned the place. He was a fighter and knew what he wanted. Things like this change your life forever.

This past weekend, my parents decided to visit my sister, she is in North Carolina for college. Pug would come and stay with me and the BF for the weekend. We went down Friday, and Pug didn’t look good. He was weak and mom and dad said he had thrown up that morning. They have him a nausea pill and it was helping. Thursday, he had a puppy play date and they were running around and were having a great time – we figured he may have picked up something from there. We brought him back to our apartment and late that night, he threw up some stomach bile. He hadn’t eaten all day, and if he didn’t get better in the morning we would take him to the vet. He wasn’t better the next morning. He wasn’t eating or drinking and could barely stand. I took him outside and he threw up again, but this time, he fell over. My heart stopped that morning, I thought he had died in the yard. I ran upstairs and we called the nearest veterinary hospital we could find. By the time we got him in, his breathing was heavy and sounded difficult. He kept throwing up and we sat for hours waiting for x-rays, blood work and an ultra sound. It was agonizing waiting for results, all the while my pug is getting sicker. The x-ray showed something was blocking the right side of his body. The ultrasound showed a mass in his intestine. The vet said it looked like a tumor. They sent us to another hospital that was better equipped, which was an hour away.

By the time we got there, Pug’s blood pressure was down to 40. They pumped him with fluids and needed to do the ultrasound again. The radiologist confirmed our worst fears – Pug had cancer. The tumor was growing on his cecum and maybe his colon. The cancer had spread and was causing his pancreas, kidneys and stomach to fail. His stomach kept filling with this awful yellow/brown fluid – which was what he kept throwing up; the vet had to put a tube through his nose to pump out the fluid. The vet wasn’t sure if he would live the weekend. If he did, he would need surgery or intense chemotherapy, and even then it was a risky. We weren’t sure if he would even be stable enough to consider those options. Our main goal was to get Pug stable until my parents and sister came home. Together, we went to the hospital to discuss the options. Ultimately, we decided it would be better to not let him hurt anymore. He wasn’t going to get better, this cancer was already eating away at him. He was in multiple-organ failure and it wasn’t fair to him. Chemo or surgery would have been too intense, and I don’t know if his body could have handled it. We would rather him go with some peace than to die on an operating table. Even if he was stable enough to come home, without removing the tumor, we would have to go through this all over again. He would be suffering through it all and it would be selfish of us. We had to do right by him, he was so good to us.

We went into another room (which they call the “Comfort Room”… not sure how comforting it is but I will go with it) and they brought Pug in. We held him, told him how much we loved him and said our goodbyes. His mind was still there, but his body just couldn’t do it. I will never forget his eyes. My mom couldn’t watch it happen, so she went to the waiting room. The rest of us huddled around Pug as the vet injected the first shot. He knew something was weird, and he jerked away. That just about broke my heart. But it put him to sleep, and the next shot was very quick. I hate he was hurting before he died, but I am relieved his death was quick and peaceful.

The hospital said the ashes take about two weeks to be returned and it will be in a nice wooden box with his name on it. They also do a paw print in clay with his name, which will be really nice. Dad wants to have a funeral for Pug, which will help the grieving process. The doctors on the case were wonderful, and I am very appreciative for all their hard work. Both hospitals had nothing but great things to say about him, which was very sweet.

Pets become such a huge part of our lives. And their loss is a giant shock to the system. This little guy was like the glue that kept us together during all the shit. His innocence and unconditional love made each day easier to live when jobs were lost, accidents happened, and just for those run-of-the-mill bad days. No matter what was going on, his tail wagged and his tongue stuck out as if to say “don’t worry about it, let’s play.” I could have been ready for soon, but I wasn’t ready for right now. He was so young and had so much fight and it all happened so fast. There were zero warning signs that he was even sick. Pug always knew what he wanted, and he was stubborn as an ox. Nothing will ever replace him and he is a hard dog to live up to. So, for now, we take it one day at a time. Hopefully, each day will get easier and we have all the happy moments. He had a lot of wonderful memories. Knowing we will meet again some day, and until then he is frolicking in puppy heaven with all his puppy friends, brings some comfort to my heart. He left this world in true Pug fashion – kept going until he couldn’t anymore. I can’t thank him enough for the love and joy he gave me in his short years. He changed me as a person, and I am forever grateful to have had him in my life.

Always in our hearts

January 5, 2005 – February 4, 2012

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