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Monday, June 8, 2015

If you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill, Part 1

That quote has been ingrained upon me for the past two weeks. It's been an awful time.

If you follow me on Facebook, (and you should) I announced there that after much struggle we had to put poor Maggie to sleep. Maggie was the white labrador who adopted us three years ago when someone dumped her on our property.

Nana and Maggie as friends
She and Nana (the border collie) had an altercation. Maggie got bit but not nearly as badly as me when I intervened. Nana only got loose skin on Maggie. With me, she struck bone (but more on that later).

At first, we thought everything was going to be all right. Maggie was panting but that had been normal for her for over a month. If you recall reading about it on this blog, the vet had diagnosed her with Horner's syndrome and said she should recover in about 3 months.

We got her breathing normalized and she ate and seemed happy for the next three days. That's when things went downhill. Once again she went into labored breathing. 

We got her to a vet (a different vet) and she felt there was more going on than Horner's syndrome. She felt Maggie's heart had been damaged and probably enlarged for a long time. It's possible (though she didn't say it in so many words) that the other vet might've missed the larger picture.

This buried me in guilt because I had suspected the same thing. Since the first vet told me to be patient because Maggie's recuperation would be slow, I was afraid to come across as reactionary when I didn't see what I felt should be more progress.

The second vet (now our permanent vet) felt that at Maggie's advanced age, any intervention (the next step was sedation for X-rays) could possibly kill her. She felt at best Maggie had only a few days. We didn't want her to suffer any more than she had to so we did the only kindness we could and put her to sleep.

I'm angry and I'm sad. All I ever wanted was the best for my dogs. They trust me to make the right decisions and I in turn have to trust the vet when my limited expertise runs out. It didn't help that Nana stressed Maggie out too, so I'm not letting her off the hook either.

If nothing else, I'm glad I took the brunt of Nana's attack. When she bit me, it was enough time for Greg to arrive and separate her teeth from my hand.

The fight was over before it began. It took longer to tell you this story than the actual incident. Little did I know, it was just the beginning of my suffering.

We buried Maggie next to our other guys. She might've come to us a stray, but she left this world as family.

More tomorrow.


32 comments:

Darke Conteur said...

Don't EVER feel guilty about your animals, sweetie. You go to hell and back for them, and they know it. *hugs*

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Thanks, hon. I try to remember that even if I can't save them all.

The vet insisted she was on her way out long before this happened. In my heart I wish all my babies will go gently in their sleep.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm really sorry for your loss. It sounds like you did the best you could with everything. The fact that Maggie started out as a stray and left as family certainly counts for a lot in this world.

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: We tried for weeks to find her owners, but no one claimed her. Even the rescue groups wouldn't take her because we were out in the boonies. The only option left was the pound and that's nothing but a death sentence. So we kept her.

She was so well behaved. We think she was someone's hunting dog. Maybe she got too old to hunt so they left her. Her back end was very arthritic.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

ohhhhhhhhh

hugs for all of you.

Angela Brown said...

I want to tell you that guilt isn't necessary, because it isn't. You did all the right things even though things had to come to a painful conclusion where Maggie is concerned. As a parent, your feelings of guilt are natural. Maggie was family and you always want things to turn out differently. Yet the best difference in the world happened when Maggie adopted you and hubs and found a home where she could give and be loved, where her end was reached with those who cared for her and let her know she mattered.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: thanks, Mac.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I guess it's true. You can do all the right things and still not have things come out right.

I am glad she stayed with us and not the pound. An elderly dog like her would never have gotten adopted. We gave her three more years, and lots of home-cooked food. :)

Mike Keyton said...

You did good, and its about time Karma rewards you with more than a bite! I hope the recovery is swift and trouble free, Maria.

betty said...

I am so sorry about it all, the fight between the dogs, your bite (which I'm sure there's more of that story to come) and then you having to put to sleep your sweet dog. You made the best, but hardest decision, considering the circumstances. You gave Maggie a wonderful home for the years she was with you, but I know you will miss her and second guess yourself. Don't beat yourself up too hard about it, just remember the good times you had with her.

betty

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Ah, Karma. She is a fickle beast. I'd settle for getting my finger back, and less drugs.

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: No matter how many times I see it, choosing to put a dog to sleep is the hardest decision anyone can make.

Diane Carlisle said...

Sorry to hear of your loss in Maggie. It would have been nice for you to know earlier what was going on. I understand all that. Some vets don't take our love for our animals serious enough, or they don't take their jobs serious enough. My Maggie is getting up there in age, but thank goodness she seems to be healthy. She's due for another round of annual shots and rabies this month.

Hang in there!

Sarah Ahiers said...

I know we talked on facebook, but still, she was a great dog and she loved you and you loved her and really, in the end, that's all that matters. (hugs)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

So sorry all of that happened. I'm sure the few years she had with you were Maggie's best.

Sandra Almazan said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Stacy McKitrick said...

When you get a bad or missed diagnosis, there isn't much you can do but accept it. So no more guilty feelings! Maggie gave you some good memories and you gave her a great three years. Hope your finger is feeling better! (((hugs)))

Rebekah Loper said...

*hugs* The only animal I've ever had go peacefully in their sleep was my guinea pig, who lived for nearly a decade, so he truly died of old age.

It's rough. And it's really hard when you thought you were doing something that was solving the problem, but it turns out there was little to nothing you could have done in the first place (like Ginger, and finding out she had cancer).

Just keep being a good pet momma. Animals are so smart, and nearly every time we've had to make the CHOICE to say goodbye to one (with the exception of one that was a special case), I could see in their eyes that they were so tired, and that they were trying to keep fighting but just couldn't.

They know how much you've tried to help them. I promise.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria my heart goes out to you as the pain you feel is one that I have also and it does not really ever go away it just dulls with time.

Hope your finger heals and whatever you are going to share next post does not have anything to do with the remaining two "kids", not sure if you could stand that so close to the last two leaving.

Hugs and prayers to all of you at Casa Zannini.

B.E. Sanderson said...

:hugs: I'm so sorry for your loss. Maggie went out of the world wrapped in love and being part of a family. You gave her the best three years of her life. :hugs:

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: People are only human. It's easy to say, ah, this is it and then not look any further.

These are times when I prefer the Eastern philosophy to medicine. They look at the whole and not just the obvious symptoms.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I don't know why Maggie attached herself to me. From the moment we met she acted as if she had known me all her life. She didn't react that way to anyone else. Made me wonder if we knew each other in another life.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I know she loved my cooking. :) Mealtimes were her favorite parts of the day.

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: Thanks, hon.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I guess the reason I feel guilty is because I had a gut feeling, even though my evidence was scant. Even if I had been proven right, it kind of looks as if she were on her last legs anyway. She was so tired. We didn't expect her to make the year.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I want to believe they understand. I would do anything for my guys to keep them safe. That's my job.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: No. My other two heathens are happy and healthy. Iko has come out of his shell more, or maybe he just realizes we're sad and is trying to cheer us up.

My finger is another story, but that's tomorrow.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: It's hard to say what kind of life Maggie had before us. I suspect she never lived indoors. My dogs never live outside.

The first time she saw a dog bed, she claimed it and slept like the dead. She loved going from bed to bed.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Going slightly off-topic, a good vet is gold.

(((hugs)))

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I've had some excellent vets in the past, but my luck hasn't been so good since I moved to the boonies.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm so sorry Maria. But she knew that you loved her and that's all that matters in a dog's life.

I hope you're healing. And stop beating yourself up over the diagnosis. We can't know everything, even though we try. You did the right thing.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: You're right, of course. Still, it's hard.