Thank you all for sharing the loss of Jake with us. It's a reminder of something that I've known for a very long time, and that's that the blogging community is one of kindness, compassion and friendship. Your comments on Jake's loss really made a difference in the sad days of the past week.
A couple of months ago I read something that really stuck with me about the "responsibility of being a witness" to the passing of our beloved pets, just as we've been one to the lives they lived. It was a very powerful article, written by a professional and long time death doula, who shares her experiences and thoughts on death on a Facebook page (and blog) that I follow. But I'd never thought of myself as a "witness" to our dogs lives, but I guess I am. I am a 'witness' to the last chapter of their lives and what's written below is my 'witness' of Jake's last day with us. I know that it's a bit wordy, and with time being a premium, I totally understand if you don't have time to read it.
So I will end this part of the post by saying again how much it means to me to have your support and for always being there to cheer us on, in both the good times, and the not so good times. You all are the best! ❤
July 13th started out as a normal day. I'd gotten Jake outside, he ate his breakfast, drank water and was even wagging his stubby tail when I gave him treats. Off to work I went. Knowing how concerned I was about Jake, a few weeks ago our dog walker started texting me updates when she came midday so I wouldn't worry (too much) about how he was doing. She said she'd also gotten Jake out and made sure he had water, and gave him treats and even noted that he was in good spirits.
Carl got home around 5 o'clock, and he also got Jake outside and there was no indication of anything wrong - I got home from work, Jake was fine, he was sitting up and seemed happy to see me and I spent a few minutes with him before getting dinner ready for the dogs. Jake's first seizure was at about 6:30, it lasted just over a minute, and he seemed to recover in just in few minutes. It had been over a week since he'd had a seizure, so I wasn't overly worried because he seemed okay. So, I went ahead and fed the other dogs, and I could tell that he wanted something to eat, so I gave him his meal, which he ate. We decided to move him into the bedroom because it was quieter. I didn't want him to be alone, and so I sat with him. Shortly after 9 PM, Jake would have a 2nd seizure. I texted the medical coordinator for the rescue to let her know.
Jake seemed to again recover from the second seizure, and was alert. By this time I'd talked to the coordinator for the rescue about what to do. We decided to take him in to the animal emergency - The first one I called, was 'full to capacity' and wouldn't see him. So, I called another about 45+ minutes from us to ask them about seeing Jake. They said they were also having a busy night, and it would be at least a 4-5 hour wait or possibly longer if Jake was stable. I'll add that I seem to recall a possible 12 hour wait in my conversation with the receptionist. Jake did seem 'stable' so I called the coordinator back, and we decided to wait through the night, and call the vet first thing in the morning and take him into the ER if he had another seizure. Unfortunately he did shortly after we talked. It was worse than the other 2 had been, and I became more than worried that Jake may not make the nearly one hour drive to the ER, especially when he had another seizure barely a minute or two later.
I drove as fast as I dared to, given that I kept seeing deer (and even a fox) crossing and grazing along the side of the road and it was a little rainy, making it pitch dark. Jake was whining a little, and I didn't and don't know why. I'd not heard him whine before, and it's something that still bothers me. But Carl sitting next to him, he settled down and he was alert for most of the 40+ minute drive.
Unfortunately Jake had another seizure when we were about 5 minutes away. It was about 11:30 PM when I pulled up to the ER. I opened the door of the van and he was barely breathing and his (gum) color wasn't good. I knew we were going to lose him. I ran inside to find the one and only receptionist listening to someone talk about his dog who had been scratching his ear all day - I stood silently as long as I could, and I finally interrupted. Fast forward to the staff getting Jake onto a stretcher, and they rushed him to the back. By the time I parked and was back inside, they were coming out to tell us that Jake was gone.
Being told news that I already knew just caused all the emotions I'd been ignoring all evening to surface and my heart to break. I asked the vet to to bring Jake to us so we could say our goodbye's. I kissed his head knowing that it would be the last time I would ever kiss him, and I noticed how soft and warm his fur was, and I wanted to remember what he felt like, because I knew I would never feel his soft fluffy coat again. I tried to memorize every detail, knowing it would be the last time I’d ever see the face of a dog I dearly love and I whispered into his ear those things that come from the heart at those moments . . . . . . . . . we said good-bye to Jake.
I know in time the sadness and emotions last Tuesday will soften, but what will remain is what always does, the gratitude in my heart for having the chance to know Jake and to love him, and have him as part of our lives for 317 days.