Last post 10 months ago. Originally this was meant to be a series about the decision to give every opportunity for a good life to a pet with success, however costly, at the end. But plans often go awry and it has taken this long for me to be able to face ending the story. So finally here is the conclusion, and perhaps we can return to more frequent entries and random rants.
After Sam’s first surgery when we visited four days later he was not improving but getting worse so we agreed to a second surgery. He came through this one as well and a week later we brought him home to begin his recovery. It was a long road since his hind quarters were still paralyzed. But over time he gradually regained about 98%. He could walk well, chase squirrels again, take walks with me and wag his tail joyfully as he eagerly went about his doggy life. There was physical therapy involved and all sorts of logistic problems helping him get around before his functions returned but we considered these things labors of love and we did them willing.
Then six months later the symptoms returned. Same routine – ER vet, then as symptoms worsened and pain could not be controlled with oral meds it was back to Iowa State and a second surgery. We were greatly encouraged when the first day after surgery he was up and walking. But two days later a call in the morning told us that he had “a setback”. He had regurgitated something and aspirated it into his lungs. X-rays were indicated to see how his lungs looked. The next thing we knew the Dr. was on the phone with us talking about did we want him on a ventilator and when we might consider humane euthanasia! To say we were alarmed is an understatement. Finally I realized that we were talking about end of life issues and the Dr. asked if we wanted to come and see him. We were panicked and ran to get the car out of the garage and head for the clinic but then the call came that his heart had stopped. Realizing that he had had enough and anything more that we did would not be for him but for us we declined CPR since the Dr. had told us that fighting to breathe had used up all his resources. And just like that Sam was gone.
We spent a lot of money. A lot. And in the end we lost a wonderful little companion. For weeks I was racked with guilt although I still cannot see that there was an alternative. Let him live paralyzed and in pain? Euthanize him when there was still a chance he would recover and have years more of a happy life? No and no. People who have never accepted an animal as part of their family will never understand the expenditure. People who have been in similar situations will understand all too well. We bought 6 months of a happy, healthy life for him and as a bonus had the pleasure of his companionship for that time as well.
When the wound on our hearts scarred over some, and I had spent weeks at home in a very empty house we decided to open our hearts to another homeless dog. Now we have Siegfried (Siegi), another long haired dachshund. Not that anything could every replace Sam but as my wife says “Each dog brings his own gifts” and although tears still come as I remember and write about Sam, Siegi is teaching us to love another dog in his own way.