Sunday, January 28, 2018

Slowing Down Without Giving Up. Why the last days don't have to last forever.

If I could allow myself a conscious vice it would be to splurge on free time more often.

For all of the self-critical New Years resolutions to be a more "correct" picture of someone else's persona we are too often very hard on ourselves and it costs us to measure ourselves by a ruler of others choosing. Eventually you will fail to maintain the vision of perfection that isn't of your own volition. Being a fake never fits.

For the life of a veterinarian there is never a short list of to-do's awaiting. There is always some phone call to make, some patient to tend to, (even the ones you saw last week who still haunt you as you try to fall off to sleep when they haven't provided the thumbs up "I'm all better" update, (OH GOD! Please don't let them be dying behind the refrigerator at their home? Are the parents able to get the antibiotics in? Will they come back for a re-check if I ask/beg/plead? What if they don't because they think I will charge for it? Okay, I'll offer to do it for free.." the internal dialogue of fear-meets-paranoia-encapsulated in over bearing responsibility (very healthy for the psyche)).

What life changing event has to force me to slow down and smell the cat fur? It is death. Looming, unrelenting, gravity fed death. I all too often don't stop to sit and tell my furry kids that I love them until I am driven to my knees begging for the hands of death to loosen their grip for just a few more minutes on one of them.

I have stood here before. Holding vigil, plotting attacks, preparing myself quietly for letting go, and listing the excuses to convince myself to get through.

Death is knocking again.

The calling card can come in little clues. Subtle innuendos so slight only a mom can pick up on them.

Jekyll is 8. Only eight!! (That part pisses me off). He's a beagle. We breed them to be invincible. He is at the point where his mid-life crisis should be calling him to the couch and off the rabbit trails. I expected some twilight days with him. He can't go from scent possessed wanderer to six feet under, can he? Is that fair? Doesn't anyone play by the rules?

Jekyll is true to his ancestral genetics. He is rugged, docile, and compact enough to be lithe and wily. BUT, he is a lemon. Has been since day 1. He got the short end of every needed life preserving quality shy of cuteness, (he got an abundance of that one). It has served him to be spared time and time again. For all of his misgivings and mischievousness those sad beagle eyes, that low fluttered tail of  wagging, and the way he just throws himself into you when he greets you as if you were, and always will be, the most important human who ever lived, melts you. There is no human being capable of not recognizing genuine devotion and adoration from this dog. It is a talent I will never possess. He is never shy to dole out his whole heart to someone he has never met. And, by chance if he does know you he will jump, kiss, lower and fast wag, while casting his already too big, already too low, velveteen ears to the floor. If you can say "No! Get OFF!" to that face you lack heart, and you therefore lack purpose. He is my righting rod for humanity.

He is a beagle. Built around a nose. Assigned to three tasks in life;
1. Collect and sing for food. In the off chance event of a zombie apocalypse you need only to grab him. No need for the allocation of hard to come by square footage to save food for that dark day,,,, just grab the beagle he can find a corn kernel in a cavernous catacomb. He will sound the "beagle-bay" alarm when the kernel is cornered.
2. Slay hearts. No dog possesses more unadulterated unbridled charm than a beagle. The Casanova of the canines. The saddest part of their pedigree is this possession. It is used to their demise. Ask any researcher which dog is used for testing and why? Answer; the beagle because they are so sweet they won't complain even when you hurt them.
3. Be a companion. They are loyal to their death. They know which side their bread is buttered on and they never walk away from bread (or butter),, or any other food (or condiment).

Here we are. Eight years into our love story. And then the shoe drops. He has been struggling for a while. It took me weeks to find the source to his struggle. He has a mass in his urethra growing inside the pelvis that is making it difficult to pass urine and feces. He is pushing against a plug and in the end it will kill him. It is the stumbling block I will do everything I can to keep from today being the day I have to say goodbye. But this, this will be his undoing. I am furious and falling. I am slowing down again. Trying to capture more moments and not let anyone else's problems steal the few days I have with him. I know that life is fleeting and precious and that we all have choices on how we spend whatever time we get. I am here, I am going to fight to keep him happy and comfortable. I will lose to his disease but it won't ever be because we surrendered. It will be because we loved, and we lived, and we made the best of each moment.

There is one more important thing to talk about here, in the midst of the sea of despair. I am going to go on.

The most heart breaking part of being a veterinarian is to see people suffer through the last days/months of their pets lives and then close their heart to having another pet forever. The burden of caring for an ailing companion is the ability to give your time and love to someone else. It is the greatest gift we get; To give love away and live again to share with another soul.

Jekyll is a pup who needed me. He was the sidekick to my pitbull pup after losing his predecessor. The beagle for my ailing Savannah's last slipping days. He is slowing me down. I am taking a new lease on what a "resolution" should include. I don't need to be better, I just need to be present. Again, and again. And when it seems like it might all be too much,, again.

Here is a small sampling of the life I have lived with my beloved Jekyll.

A Tribute To A Beagle. My love story of my Jekyll.

The Things Only A Mom Knows. Planning For A Life Without Us.

Tis Better To Have Loved And Lost.

Jekyll Arrives. The first introductory blog on my new puppy.

If you have a pet related condition please ask the amazing people at It is free for everyone to use. 

If you would like to learn more about us at Jarrettsville Vet Center please find us here at our website, or like our Facebook page.

I am also on YouTube and Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. So sorry for your sadness. The number of dogs we have in life doesn't divide the love we have to give, it multiplies the love we have to give.

  2. I hope you do slow down just a little, enough to relish whatever time you have left with sweet Jekyll. Both you and Jekyll are in my thoughts and prayers. I very much sympathize with the agony of loosing before their time, being robbed of time we thought we had. I am so very sorry. Many hugs. Today is truly a gift, tomorrow is not promised.

  3. I am crying as I read know I lost my sweet Vito last year and he was also only 8...I felt as though we and he were robbed of many years. It still hurts. I am sorry you are going through this. I am glad you are taking some time with him...I am grateful that when Vito was sick, I was able to work from home and spend more time with him when he needed me. Thanks for posting...I know this will help many people. xxxooo

  4. I’m sitting with my Maltese so he’ll rest. Wherever I go he follows no matter how tired he is. He’s 31/2, diagnosed last year with Cushings Disease. Previous to that he had knee surgery, first the right knee, then the left. Back then I had thought that was the worst thing he’d go thru. I thought all that panting was from leg pain. Then he’s prescribed the Vetorayl would be the magic potion to give us time. The panting and now constant dripping urine are just normal to us, along with constant hunger and thirst. We can do this, my AndyLamb is the sweetest, strongest boy ever. So we’re in a routine but this week somethings wrong, different from all the other wrongs. Lots of test and there it is.. Diabetes. One shot in the morning, along with the Vetoryl and Movoflex(arthritis). Three weeks in and it’s another shot of Insulin at night. Two a day.
    Now the wire thing from his leg surgery has slipped and small surgery to remove it. He has a pocket of fluid from it. Antibiotics & Metacam. Could take weeks to heal & possible infection. The thing that will likely be the last straw.
    So this morning I’m sitting here reading up on everything I can about what AndyLamb might be feeling, no one really knows that, it seems. I’m trying to be ready but I’m never going to be ready. All of my friends are probably tired of hearing about AndyLamb.
    We have an amazing Vet. She’s doing everything possible, but it’s coming. I felt it yesterday. We’re going to sit together all day, everyday as much as possible. I’m his Mom & so grateful he chose me.

  5. So sorry--eight years isn't enough. My collie is in liver failure at 11.5 but we buy as much time as we can and treasure the moments--but it's hard. Even at a ripe 'old age' it's still never enough time. My heart goes out to you. Tammy