I look back now and realize that Bailey’s illness didn’t happen overnight. It’s been going on since before Thanksgiving.
On a normal evening, I’d lay down on the couch and read or watch TV or whatever and Bailey would always cuddle up with me. But several weeks ago her cuddle positioning changed. Though she tried to lay as she normally would, she could not seem to get comfortable and so would move to the end of the coach in a kind of a frustrated huff. A couple of times she even gave a very soft yelp, as if she hurt herself.
This also happened at bedtime. We had a routine–I’d put a couple of kibbles under her pillow, and after she ate them she would crawl under the covers, cuddle for a while, and then move back up to her pillow. But her cuddle position changed, again as if she couldn’t get comfy.
This never struck me as something major–in fact, I’m not even sure I conciously thought about it until Thursday night.
Watching her on Thursday, I realized that all week I had been seeing her gait degenerate, especially her back legs. As she walked, her butt was swaying left-and-right and her back legs seemed to swing outward and away from her body instead of just back-and-forth.
Over the week, her squats when she pottied had become more-and-more clumsy till she finally just wouldn’t squat anymore. By Wednesday I would carry her outside, she would look like she couldn’t figure out what to do, and then walk back to the door to be let in. Twice her bladder released its load just as we got inside the door. I know now she could no longer squat.
I gave up trying to get her outside to potty. I kept her gated in my room/office. She was welcome to pee on my carpet. And for once she made no objection to being barred in the room. In fact, she didn’t seem to want to leave her bed. When she looked up at me, it was like she didn’t see me, as if she were in her own world. It might have been the drugs–I kept her pumped with pain meds–but I don’t think so. I’m not sure the pain meds were taking care of all her pain.
Thursday evening I again brought her out to the sofa to join us. The prior evenings she seemed to notice we were there and every time I got up she kept track of where I was. This time she had no interest. And she could not get comfortable. I finally carried her back into her bed in my bedroom.
And I started thinking about the times when she seemed to be experiencing what I thought was arthritis pains, and the light bulb went on–we’d been looking in the wrong places. The problem was in the area around her back legs. Over the past week, it was her hind end that had gotten progressively weaker and troubling.
I left her in her own bed. During the night I heard her get up and lay on the carpet. Around 3 she shifted again and I realized she had again had an involuntary bladder release while she slept. By 6 AM I think I had made the decision. I gathered her up, put her on my bed and lay down beside her to tell her it would soon be over. She allowed this to go on for maybe 10 minutes and then indicated that she wanted down. Up until Thursday she made an attempt to indulge my cuddles. Now she wanted none of it.
For the third morning, I called Dr. B to speak with her before her appointments started. I told her about my theory about Bailey’s hind end. She agreed that it made sense and we both wondered if perhaps the cancer was back.
Doing x-rays of the area would cause her needless pain because of the way her body would have to be twisted (we had been forced to do this a couple years ago and I had promised myself I would never put her through that again). Even if we did discover it was the cancer, we had already made the decision of no chemo/surgery.
And now that I knew where to look I could see that with all the treatments we had tried over the week there was no progress, only degeneration in her condition. She was not responding. She was in pain. So we made an appointment for the big sleep.
For the 3rd morning, Bailey was coaxed into her Sherpa bag and my mom and I drove to the clinic. We were met at the door by one of the techs and taken to an exam room. We talked through what was going to happen–all of us in tears. Bailey’s groomer, Aunt T came in to say goodbye. My little pooch touched so many hearts at the clinic! They took her back to the hospital area and put a catheter into the vein in her leg, then brought her back to us. My mom and I had spread one of Bailey’s blankets out on the table. Dr. B joined us. We said our goodbyes to her and as Dr. B gave her the final injection through the catheter she so peacefully hid her head in the folds of the blanket just like she used to do when we would go to bed at night. Eventually, Dr. B wrapped her in another blanket and took her away. She really looked like she was just having a good sleep.
As we left, we were hugged by the receptionists. Later that day I heard from Dr. T–he was not at the clinic on Friday, but her had called in for something and they told him that Bailey was gone. Friday evening T (Bailey’s groomer) called us to see how we were doing. She told me that everyone at the clinic was affected by Bailey’s passing. They are such wonderful people and took such good care of my girl.
So many people–friends, family, co-workers, neighbors–have reached out to me with kindness. It warms me to think that Bailey had such a large group of friends and fans, and I am so grateful for the thoughts and prayers that you all have shared. Thank you so much.
I look at her bed that still holds the indentation of where she lay only 48 hours ago, and I feel the empty loneliness of her absence. I miss her so much.