We lost our husky very suddenly this past January. He was fine, then he wasn’t fine for a couple of days, and then he was gone. Just like that. We came home from the vet, and two hours later he became quiet.
I was sitting with Blue when it happened. It was so surreal. I just kept waiting for him to get up, for the light filtering through the window shades to wake me from the bad dream.
But it was not a dream. And there was pain in its wake.
Life is short for people. Life is even shorter for the creatures we bring into our hearts. But we bring them into our fold just the same. Why? I do it because of the way it opens my heart.
Just a few months ago, a wolf dog walked into my life. He became mine and I, his. There was an uncanny kind of connection that was the sort of soul mates, if you believe in that kind of thing. Friends and strangers alike described him as a mythical kind of creature. One of my coworkers told me he was not a dog to her but a person. She expected him to open his mouth and begin speaking.
It is true. He is mythical and seems wise, like an old soul who has been through more than a creature should ever experience in a few short years of life.
He is very sensitive, and humans have not been kind to him in his short life. He has the kind of extreme anxiety that any sentient being would possess who has been abandoned by the beings they most trust to love them unconditionally.
We are very similar, he and I. Fear of abandonment; feeling drawn to those we love. Perhaps, we have met in another life. Perhaps, we will meet again. All I know is that we were meant to meet in this life, however short this life may be.
A few days ago, my wolf dog stopped eating. It has happened before, so I didn’t think too much of it. I mentioned he is sensitive. I brought him to doggie day care for a few hours, and he responded by going into a deep depression and not eating for several days. I brought him to the vet, who put a hydration pouch until the skin behind his head. He looked like the hunchback wolf of notre dame, but he bounced back.
His second bout of depression came after my sweetie returned home from a two week road trip to the Pacific Northwest and back. We couldn’t figure out if he was demonstrating his sadness that his human dad had left or he was pouting because dad had come home and wolf dog no longer had mom’s full attention.
I love my wolf dog unconditionally, and I am doing my best to help ease him into trusting that I will never leave him and will always be there to love him.
Even though I know that life is short and that just because we love someone does not mean they will be able to stick around indefinitely, when I brought home my wolf dog, I had the feeling that we had years ahead of us. He was young, two years old, maybe three, according to an in-depth study of his teeth.
So when he stopped eating for a third time this past weekend, I didn’t think too much of it. I was on a short road trip, and I assumed he was not enjoying the many hours trapped in the car. Maybe, he was car sick and a bit dehydrated. The vet had told me that dogs can get nauseas when they are dehydrated, so I imagined this explained his drooling and melancholia. He still snuggled close to me at night, whether on a tarp beneath the stars or on a foreign bed.
When the vet told me this morning that the most humane thing to do may be to give him a shot, it was as an arrow striking through my heart and shattering it into so many thousands of pieces there would be no hope of finding them all to repair the damage done.
He brought him back for blood work, and I left to bring my sweetie to work.I returned to the room and waited. And waited. It seemed like a long time before the vet returned with results from the blood work. He patiently explained each of the different elements of the test and their results. I saw many acronyms and wish I could borrow my father’s understanding of pathology to have a sense of what he was telling me.
His body was not creating red blood cells. White blood cells had formed bands that were eating things, but it was not certain what they were eating.
I was simply relieved that he was still alive and I would not have to say goodbye just yet.
The day went on in this way, me waiting for a phone call and then listening to different ominous possible futures for my wolf. Between calls, there were tears. First one, then a deluge to follow.
I called the vet to see if I could visit him. I fully expected to be told that it was not possible, but they welcomed me to visit and to talk to the vet. I brought my pillow and a ukulele and crawled into the kennel with my furry love. I sang for him a song of hope in dark times on my ukulele, choking on many of the lines. I told myself that I needed to sing in as strong a voice as possible to be strong for my wolf dog.
He was out of it from pain medication and blood loss, but he picked up his head and rested it in my lap. I gently caressed him, drawing my fingers from the fur on his muzzle up along the slope between his eyes and back across his head and neck. Beneath the touch of my fingers, I felt vibrations from his purr growl. He was so peaceful in response to my touch. I never wanted to leave him.
The vet came to talk with us. We could hardly hear him above the barking and mewing of the other animals, so he opted to come into the kennel and sit next to me. (I really loved this man, he was so real and honest.)
He told my sweetie and me about all the things they were doing and the discussions he was having with the other vets. Apparently, my wolf dog is what is known as a Zebra in medical circles. So often, when doctors see hoof prints, they imagine a Zebra when they are really only seeing a horse. In other words, it is easy to imagine rare conditions when the prognosis is really quite simple, the flu instead to the common cold. In our case, my wolf dog had presented the doctors with an actual Zebra, and they were all stumped.
The vet had told me earlier that morning that last Monday had been his first day.
You’re welcome, I had responded.
In the kennel, I could hear him better but still felt as if in a blur.
His body isn’t producing red blood cells, but he has bands of white blood cells eating things…but what are they eating? We don’t know.
No parasites as yet. No kidney failure or kidney disease. An enlarged spleen but that could be a semblance relative to his low body weight. Much blood loss and anemia. A condition that had been likely building for some time. The fact that he was walking was a good sign. Maybe, we should try antibiotics to stave off more diarrhea and bring down the high levels of what are healthy elements of the gastrointestinal region until they grow beyond their normal range.
Antibiotics. Check. Why not? I was burning through even more of my precious savings, but I didn’t care. He was only three, and we had many more years together. I was so sure of this. I felt it.
I feel it now as I type. I know that he will is going to try to be ok. I feel that he will be. I left my heart with him. He needs it more than I do right now, and it is perhaps why I feel so empty.
I know that technically, we are doing all we can for him. But to be honest, I would feel better if I were sleeping in the kennel with him. He is so very sensitive, and I worry that he will think we have abandoned him. I need him to not give up trying to survive.
When I finally got up to leave, he got up to go with him. I whispered into his ear many times that I was with him always, to hang in there, rest, and allow his body to heal. Did he understand? Did he know that my heart was there with him, even if it looked like I was only leaving my pillow for a familiar scent?
When a being has been abandoned so much in their life, can they really trust a person’s word?
I hope so.
The sun will come out, tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.
So long as you’re breathing, you know, you are still alive.