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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Saddest Day

I hate to even write about this but yesterday we had a very sad day for our family. Thankfully the boys are with their dad in Utah and didn't have to witness this but our sweet dog Jackson had to be put down yesterday. Before I give the gruesome details (even though I will spare you most of them) I should say that he was almost 11 years old and has been with us since he was 8 weeks old and has had a very happy, climate-controlled life. He is a most loving and most-loved animal. It all started on monday morning at 7:15 when one of our famous Cleveland summer storms blew in. The storms are very loud and since we live very close to Lake Erie the thunder sounds like it is right on top of our house. Jackson is terribly frightened of loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms and he goes into anxiety mode long before we hear the first crack of thunder. A vet even prescribed Xanax and Valium for him to treat his symptoms when this happens. As soon as I heard the thunder start and Jackson started whimpering and pacing I gave him his usual dose of meds. I went back to what I was doing in the kitchen and continued to talk to him to try to soothe him which is our normal course of action for our big furry baby. After about 10 minutes I noticed he was quiet and had gone down into the basement which would be way to soon for the medication to help at all. When I found him he was a mess. Apparently he had a seizure which made him collapse and do other things I don't need to describe for you. I panicked and called for Mike to come down (thank goodness he was home!). Mike immediately called the vet and we took him right in. He had never had a seizure before and I had no idea what was wrong with him. He was completely lifeless and seemed very disoriented and I didn't realize it right away but he had become temporarily blind as well. The vet was really concerned when he saw him and tried to take his temperature and couldn't get his temp to register on his digital thermometer because it was so high. They took him right away and put him in a bath of cold water to bring his temp down. At this point they sent us home because hearing our voices but not being able to see seemed to be agitating Jack further. They gave him more valium to calm him down so he could rest and they promised to keep me posted at home. After a few hours they called me at home and said there hadn't been any improvement and that he could possibly be blind and paralyzed so I needed to prepare myself for the worst and consider putting him down. I was so upset but knew that his life would be miserable if he couldn't even stand. They wanted to keep watching him and see if there was any improvement. I got the next call at 4:00 and the vet sounded so positive and upbeat when he let me know that Jack's vison had come back and he was standing but still weak. He also said that we needed to take Jack to and internal medicine vet because Jackson's organs were experiencing shock as a result of the temp spike and drop and that there was a problem with his blood platelets causing internal bleeding. So we went to see the specialist and his prognosis was not so positive. He gave me a long list of procedures that they could try to manage the bleeding but added that the DIC (the name for the condition) was a secondary condition and his guess was that Jackson may have a brain tumor or some other mass that may have triggered the seizure to begin with. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "We can go ahead with exhaustive measures to try and save Jackson but it would not be wrong of you to let him go now." I know that vets can't really recommend euthanasia to you other than as an option but I really got the feeling that this man was telling me what he would do if this were his pet. So I called Mike and he came to the vets office to help me make this horrible decision. I sat with Jackson while we wated for Mike and he was hooked up to IVs and a heart monitor and it was the saddest thing I have seen. I was bawling and everytime Jack heard me sniffle he would try to lift up his head or put his paw on my leg almost as if to comfort me. He is such a little protector. I was crushed but I could also see that this was really bad and not going to get better. So Mike arrived and he was shocked at how bad Jack looked. We sat together with Jackson for at least another hour because I just hated to say the words that needed to be said. I just couldn't bear the thought of putting him though any more procedures and risking him dying alone in the middle of the night in a strange place. His breathing got worse and finally we made the decision to let him die peacefully. We sat with him as the vet gave him the medicine and he just went to sleep. It was so sad but I felt really calm and knew that we were doing the kindest thing for Jack. We have so many happy memories of Jackson that we get to keep with us and that pup had a pretty sweet life for a dog! It will be really hard to tell the boys when they come home but this is an important part of life and they will make it through. I think this experience will make it difficult for me to have another pet for a long time because it was so traumatic but maybe one day we wil be ready to do this again. I do love having a dog in our family and this one will be greatly missed. Any happier pet stories than this one today? I could use a laugh!

PS-This is a picture of Jack alive and just sleeping-I'm not completely morbid!


Jenny said...

Hi Jennifer,
I found your blog from Michelle's and was intrigued by your story.
I am so sorry to hear that! He looked like such a sweet dog. I had a golden retriever growing up that we had to put to sleep and I remember it being so sad! My heart really aches for your family--especially your children.

If you want a good laugh you could check Jill's blog today I got a good chuckle from it!

Jill said...

Oh Jen, I'm so sorry. That's such a sad story. It's heartbreaking to lose a pet. This will sound silly, but I had hamsters when I was a kid and one time we were babysitting a neighbors kids and the little girl dropped my hamster from really high up. After that the hamster's back legs didn't work and she just dragged her legs behind her until she died. I was crushed and just cried and cried (I was 10). I remember writing in a journal about it and just feeling so alone. So I can't even imagine how you deal with the loss of your sweet dog that has been part of your family for 11 years! I'll be thinking about you and wishing you peace.

Kristi Brooke said...

the photo of jackson is beautiful. how lucky you are to have it.
what a hard day. I am so glad that mike and you were together. Hang in there, I wish there was something I could do.
big d.c. hugs!!!!

michelle said...

I'm so sad for your family's loss. What a sad story. I keep thinking it might have been better that it happened while the boys were away. Although I'm sure they would have liked to say goodbye, it also could have been traumatic to see him in that condition. At least now they can remember him beautiful and at peace like he is in that sweet photo.