Sunday, July 31, 2011

Charlie Arrives!

The life of Charlie...

It had been four long painful tear-ridden days, since I had to put my dear 14 year-old pit bull mix Ambrose down. He had been through two years of fighting cancer; and in the end his chest was full of the microscopic invaders who now resembled armies. They had won the war in his lungs, and the rest of his body was too tired to fight anymore.
I am the veterinarian in my practice who does most of the in-house euthanasias. I understand first hand how much easier and calmer it is for a pet to pass over, when they are in their familiar surroundings, and how much more at ease, and free to grieve their owners are. The owners always are so grateful to have me arrive at their door. And I always tell them that I am happy to help, and understand completely how it feels.
Ambrose passed away on a Thursday, looking into my eyes, telling me that he loved me, and that he was happy to have been with us for such a great long time. But even though there was no muscle mass left on his once greyhound looking thighs; and he hadn’t eaten, no matter what kind of meat, cat, or baby food I offered, he still was the same dog behind those eyes he had always been. His mind was all still perfectly intact, and it was heart-breaking to be putting him to sleep. It influenced my understanding of hospice care, euthanasia, and end of life decisions.

There were a large multitude of factors that led me to putting him down. Some were practical, some emotional, some experience-based, and some absolutely gut-wrenching. I told him I loved him, I told him I was sorry, and he said goodbye to me. I was with him at the vet hospital. It was where we had spent every working day, he was comfortable there. I had an amazing support staff around me; they gave me time with him; they hugged me; they reassured me; and they all told him their own good-byes. I was replete was grief. I went home grateful I didn’t have to work until Monday. I shut my phone off; shut myself away from the world; and just let myself have time to come to terms with another chapter of my life closing.
Four days later I went back to work. I could say thank-you to everyone I saw that sent me their sympathies, without breaking down. It was 9 am, I was prepping for my day of surgeries, and in walked Charlie. At that time his name was Taz. He was just walking off of the Humane Society’s van. He was the spitting image of Ambrose, slightly smaller, 13.5 yrs younger but every bit his goofy, dim-witted, boxing-faced pup. I didn’t really see it at first, but the staff did immediately.

The next thing I know, I am getting a phone call from my husband who was in Uruguay. There was no hello, good-morning, or any other words remotely resembling a cordial greeting, he just blurted out “I’ll take him!” “What are you talking about?” I replied. He quickly jumped in, “the brindled puppy that Laura sent me a picture of...” I turned to look at her. She just smiled and shrugged. I took a closer look at Taz, and then I saw it. The smile in his eyes, the soft-short-just-long-enough coat falling black-striped over dark mahogany ears.

As he had first disembarked off of the van I had looked at him as the vet first and saw runny nose, crackly lungs, and undernourished body. The summary of my physical exam findings were that he was too young to be in a shelter, probably had kennel cough turning into pneumonia, was sick and had a 50/50 chance of survival, which would be lower if he went back to the shelter. After the call from my husband, I saw him as what I would refer to later as, “the puppy that Ambrose had sent us.” I made a phone call to the Humane Society.

He came home that night, and so began a new chapter in our lives.

I wanted to add some pictures of Ambrose too, so here he is;

I am still blown away in the similiarities between these two dogs. They have the same eyes, the same gestures, habits, behaviors, and personality. I miss you Ambrose. But you would be proud of Charlie.

No comments:

Post a Comment