I’ve had the hardest time coming up with words for this part of our story. I’ll admit I’ve known this part of the story was going this direction for a few days now, but writing it here makes it so real. So… here it goes….
As you have hopefully already read in The Bite, The Communicator and The Event, you know the prior month and a half have been terribly emotional. You may even have cried with me. (warning- you’re probably going to cry more… grab your tissues)
Since the bite, I’ve added Prozac and CBD oil back in Charlie’s routine. I even pulled out the twice a day pill box that always makes me think of older adults… like grandpa’s age (okay this still sounds terrible)… moving on… After a month or so of just that, I added Trazadone, after additional research and conversations.
After the first animal communicator conversation, I added Carpofen to Charlie’s routine.
After the second communicator, I added essential oils and a diffuser to the routine.
The trainer said no couch and no bed for Charlie… after the communicator, I said okay, come on up!
My heart said keep trying…. My emotions were a wreck…. to put it nicely I’ve been an emotional basket-case since the bite. I have seen Charlie have good days, bad days, great mornings and rough evenings. I’ve seen him wiggle his nubbin and I’ve seen him growling and mad.
As all of this has gone on, I have had to decide what is best for Charlie, myself, Eddie and Maggie (the cat).
Charlie has been muzzled 90-95% of the day and night. He’s spent a good deal of time in his crate, some due to his choice, some due to thoughts it may help, and some due to the diffuser seeming to help take the edge off for him.
A constant in Charlie and I’s time together is the fact that from day one I have been trying to build his trust in me. After a year, I thought maybe he’s just slower to trust than most, after two, it’s just who he is… coming up on four…. okay something isn’t right.
After two communicators confirmed, different types/styles, but both said he had been badly abused…. brutally abused…. I don’t have words to describe how i felt when they told me what he described… from being beat with a stick, to being kicked, to being stuck in something made of concrete and what sounded like chicken wire and he tried to gnaw his way out.
He probably has a brain injury, migraines, PTSD, anxiety, fear, the list seems to go on.
I understand why he doesn’t trust now. It bothers me he doesn’t seem to trust me, but he doesn’t trust anyone from the sounds of it.
Over the last few weeks, including today, I have sat on the couch and he would growl at Eddie as Eddie bounded down the stairs after playing with the cat. Or Charlie would growl at Maggie just for being on the stairs looking towards the couch or thinking about walking through to get water…. I would talk to him, say things like “I’m okay,” “we’re a pack, Maggie & Eddie are family,” “I’m safe,” “You’re fine,” and “it’s okay.” This has continued without improvement.
The boys and I went to visit my best friend and have some fun, well needed during grad school, and of course involved wine. Charlie and Eddie got to hang with us in the living room and he decided to show his growling moment.
He also showed how he growls and has his nubbin going at the same time. He showed his happy side.
But the moment he laid on top of me and growled at my best friend, who he knows well, for coming near me, left a terrible thought in my friend’s mind. She had to be honest, which I appreciate 100%. She told me at the breakfast table that she has struggled with the thoughts and the process of it, but finally came to the decision that if Charlie was hers she would put him down. I understood, but it crushed me at the same time.
This is someone I go to for many things, good days, bad days, questions about life, questions about dogs, or just to smile and laugh. I trust her completely. I take her opinion very seriously.
I knew I had to start processing this more. What I haven’t mentioned is my random trips to the springer rescue website to look at what young dogs are available. Or my email inquiring about one.
I looked at my best friend, and grappled with this idea. I decided “lets try adding one more med. If that doesn’t work then we know it’s time.”
The next few days, I called my vet, I talked through this plan. I picked up the meds. I saw the first dog I inquired about was pending adoption… moved on to a second one… quickly emailing the coordinator to ask questions…. next thing I know, and hour after I got her response I had a new application submitted. (some part of me was accepting the inevitable)
I’d go back and forth between happy charlie and growling Charlie. When he was happy I thought “- Was I doing the right thing? He’s happy today. Are the meds working?” Then he’d growl at Eddie or Maggie again.
While chatting with my vet I had scheduled an appointment for Eddie and Charlie to go in. Eddie needed an anal gland expression and my goal was a nail trim for Charlie….
Have I mentioned by this point I’m drowning in final papers, take home exams and stress? Did I mention I had to go to urgent care and my blood pressure was “Prehypertensive?”
The morning of the vet appointment I woke up so confused. I had this dream that made no sense to me. I saw Charlie curled up on a couch in his muzzle (okay my subconscious knows he is dangerous, coming to terms with one thing there). The person I was chatting with and watching TV with…. someone I hadn’t seen in years who recently passed away. Later in the dream there was a moment of her washing dishes.
I immediately started trying to translate the dream, but nothing I was finding made sense. I posted to Facebook hoping one of my many friends had a talent for translating dreams… sure enough. I got a response. I filled her in and her response “you got your answer. You may not know what it is now, but you will when the time is right.”
I worked on my final paper for a bit. Trying to focus on the task at hand, but anxious to get to the vet (it’s my scheduled break from paper writing and I am a procrastinator).
I get the leashes out. Charlie didn’t growl when I put his leash on, this is unusual. Typically he growls and gets mad, but this time, he’s fine. Eddie’s barking up a storm he doesn’t want to get left behind.
We get there, check in, weigh in (Charlie at 52.0 lbs and Eddie at 27.7 lbs) and go to sit and wait. I knew we were early, but I was anxious. Charlie and Eddie were excited to say hi to the lady who joined us in the waiting area shortly after. Charlie ended up laying down right next to her like he was her best friend.
It was our turn… we head into the room and the vet tech confirms that Eddie needs the usual and takes him back first… Everyone knows how difficult Charlie is. (We go to the vet a lot!) They return to the room, Eddie smelling like some version of pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice latte. The conversation begins…. I go through our history…. the adoption, the bites, the medical treatments, the ear infections, the emotions. It came time to mention that we weren’t doing any vaccinations since I wasn’t sure how long I would have charlie.
It hit me like a tanker truck…. I had my answer…. The vet came in. She has known Charlie almost as long as I have. She has seen his worst, his improvements and now his backslide. She has heard about every bite, every hospital visit, every problem. We talked about how we don’t know what’s wrong, but is appears to mental health and that can be has miserable as some medical diagnoses for animals. We talked about the decision I was about to make. “it’s the compassionate thing to do,” “it’s the right thing to do,” but none of that made me feel any less heartbroken.
We left the conversation with me coming up with a timeline. I wanted one last photo shoot with Charlie and Eddie. I wanted to show Charlie a wonderful time and give him all his favorite things- swimming, running, eating chicken, eating eggs, and socks. I also wanted friends to be able to say good bye. I began planning his last meals and what drive-thrus we’d hit… Starbucks for breakfast and a puppuccino, Chick-fil-a for chicken nuggets….
I spent the afternoon, at Starbucks avoiding looking at Charlie, and late into the evening (at home) fighting emotions to write my paper and turn it in before midnight. All while planning a pawty and setting it up on Facebook.
The following day was our club banquet celebrating the 2018 dockdogs season. I love the banquet. I see all my friends, we do a white elephant exchange with excitement and stealing gifts and drama (the fun kind) and good food and a few cocktails. This time, I was half there. Things made me tear up. I had to walk away during the rainbow bridge video of the dogs who passed that year… next year… it will be Charlie in that video. I had to tell a few people only because when they hugged me I started crying, or because they were such amazing supporters of Charlie and I, I couldn’t bear to hold the secret when face to face with them.
I sat with my friends, holding back tears during the awards and presentations. I tried to have fun during the gift exchange and steals…. I did appreciate the timing of my gift being stolen because I got an awesome new giant travel mug to hold my wine.. I mean coffee in at events… But this year was tough. I had the knowledge of my decision in my mind. I wanted to be home with Charlie and Eddie.
One friend mentioned this amazing trainer and I had to try… meanwhile I had my mind made up… but the comment gave me a glimmer of hope and I began second guessing myself…. tears came…. and I went outside and puddled into a wreck on the restaurant’s patio….
Over the next twenty-four hours, I seconded guessed my decision, I debated trying training… the boys and I went to the very first park Charlie and I went to for a photo shoot with a close friend. The boys had a blast, Charlie’s nubbin was going and after the annoying posed photos they got to run and be crazy. I got to laugh and smile, not one tear shed. After, I finished my take-home exam.
Monday morning, I had to do another take home exam, but when done, I called the vet, I typed up my prior posts that I couldn’t type while injured…. Right as I started to decide I had been at Starbucks long enough my vet returned my call… I asked her two questions “Do you think training will help Charlie?” Okay it was Three… “Can you train bite inhibition?” and “If he was your dog,….what would you do?”
The answers…. No, No and if “I had been bitten to the extent of medical attention like you, I’d put him down.” It was what I needed to hear. I scheduled it for December 21st at 5pm (apologizing that she would have to put Charlie down on the Friday before Christmas)
My heart hurt, it was heavy, but the decision was made. I began to plan his Pawty. Inviting more people. Deciding what else we should do. I got home and cuddled with him, I got into my head like I do and cried some more…
Today, the second animal communicator, emailed. She had finally connected with Charlie again. What she said in this email put me into tears instantly, but lightened the weight of the decision I had made…. “He is unhappy, it isn’t you.” “I didn’t ask The Question without your permission.”
I responded that I had made the choice to schedule to put him down (those words are so difficult to say) and asked if he wanted it to be sooner and if not, then did he want to see friends, say goodbye and enjoy his favorite things- chicken, eggs and socks?
At this point I was that girl who won’t stop checking for texts… every 2 minutes refreshing my phone. I needed to know his hopes for timing. I don’t want to drag it out. I began second guessing the choice of timing.
She confirmed he would love to spend time with friends eating lots of treats and he wants me to bring his favorite sock with him…. What favorite sock? There are so many socks he gets… the answer?! “He showed me an image of a big red and what sock full of bones.” That goofy boy wants us to bring a stocking when I say my final goodbyes…..
As I type this, I have his pawty planned, I know I will have beautiful photos in the coming weeks, I have talked to many friends, I have gotten an outpouring of support and love and understanding. He is having a terrible night…. he is so grumpy and mean today.
And I am now wondering if I am waiting too long and dragging it out and should I reschedule for Monday.
It has been the hardest choice to make. There is no diagnosis. there is no visible disease or problem. This is brain pain, this is internal. I will probably never know what was the true cause of his pain and unhappiness. I don’t feel 100% about what I am doing, but I know it’s the compassionate thing to do.
It feels so different than when I chose to put my cats and Bella down. Whiskers, who had a softball size tumor between his shoulder blades. Sophie, who had liver failure, was skin and bones and yellow from jaundice. Lastly, Bella, our springer momma dog who we had for three short months who we realized had two types of cancer and surgery was unsuccessful. I knew it was time for all three of them and just knew….
Charlie doesn’t have a visibly psychical aliment. It hurts that I can’t help him in any other way than to let him go. Everyone tells me I will be at peace with this but I’m not sure I will be at peace like I am with Bella, Sophie and Whiskers, this just isn’t the same. It probably will never feel the same with Charlie, I am slowly coming to terms with that, but it is so very painful.
Painful in a way I’m not sure I can describe. But I have made the decision and now to enjoy my last days with my heart dog….
I have rescheduled the procedure for Monday the 17th.