Changes and Losses II: Life’s Sequel (Re-Blog)

RMpuppies 001


Get over it. It’s just a dog [cat, fish, bird, whatever].

How many times have you heard that?  How many times have you maybe said that?

In the last year, we have lost many animals from old-age-related issues.  I once had four tanks of gerbils (started with two individual gerbils which were supposed to be different sexes, but then had to separate the resulting boys and girls) – they all died of old age.  Ok, gerbils don’t stimulate sympathy in most people, but I was still sad when each one passed.  God bless the little things, each one made it to about 3-1/2 years or more, which is pretty amazing for such small animals.

Granted animals are not people, and perhaps grief should be retained for humans only.  Heaven knows, we all grieved when our Dan died of cancer last year, and my mother died of old age shortly thereafter.


Riggsie At Ease

But somehow, losing our black German Shepherd, Riggsie, just made the grief so much more unbearable.  Riggsie lived to be 12 years old, and then succumbed to bloat (gastric volvulus).  Sure, surgery might have been an option, but the emergency room vet could not guarantee an elderly dog would survive the anesthesia and surgery, especially since poor Riggsie had immunodeficiency problems.  The dog was in agony.  The decision was made.

We went home from the emergency clinic without our Riggsie.



Morgan Waiting for Mom

That was one year and 10 days ago.  In the last year, we still had our smaller, mixed border collie/shepherd, Morgan.  Morgan turned 13 last November.

Morgan enjoyed having the house all to herself without her “big brother.”   She “stole” all his toys, one of which was even bigger than she was!  She began snoozing next to my feet while I was working on the computer – Riggsie was the alpha dog and previously that was HIS spot, along with first dibs on the couch.


Riggsie Being Scary

Just before Christmas of this year, Morgan developed a cough which wouldn’t go away.  We took her to our regular vet, thinking it was an allergy or something.  Sure, we had all noticed she had lost weight over the last few months, but just figured it was old age catching up with her.  Or perhaps it was her previous neurological problems reasserting themselves.  The vet examined her and took blood work – diagnosis:  Stage 3 canine lymphoma.

Without treatment, the prognosis was four to six weeks.  On prednisone only, she would have maybe two months.  If we opted for chemotherapy, we could stretch that to maybe six months.

The dog was over 13 years old and was already having trouble breathing.  Chemotherapy is expensive, tough on the dog, might not work for such an old dog, and even if it did work would only extend her life by a few months at most.  We opted for the prednisone therapy.

The day before yesterday, despite increased doses of prednisone, Morgan began gasping at night, and the fear in her eyes did me in.


Morgan’s Last Photo Shoot

Yesterday, when Morgan woke up, she seemed perfectly OK again – almost like she thought she was a puppy.  But I remembered her eyes the night before, and knew she was declining rapidly

I called our vet to ask how I could know when it was “time.”  I truly expected the vet to tell me to bring the dog in for an exam.  But instead the vet explained to me just how aggressive Morgan’s lymphoma was and that things would likely be getting ugly very quickly.  She left it to my husband and me to determine if we wanted to try to keep Morgan around for another week or two, with the very real possibility that she would soon be in dire distress, or put her down gently now, before the real suffering began.

I made the appointment– the last appointment of the day, and the vet said she would wait for us to get there.

Although showing signs of her disease at the vet’s office, Morgan was still acting fairly peppy and friendly.  My husband and I developed enough doubts that the 5:00 pm appointment became 6:00 pm and required another conversation with the vet prior to the ultimate decision.  The vet reassured us that easing Morgan’s current suffering and preventing even worse future suffering was the right thing to do.

We came home without our Morgan.

I’m sure we did the right thing in preventing further suffering – the situation was hopeless.  But I still feel guilty.

And now we are dog-less.

It was so strange this morning that I did not have to put the dog out, did not have to shut doors to rooms the dog was not allowed in, did not have to feed the dog, did not have to worry about rolling my desk chair back and accidentally running over the dog’s tail or paw.

Sure, they’re just animals.

But it still hurts.

We’ll get past this grief like we have before, for both people and animals.

We may eventually get more pets, or we may not – that decision will wait until we’ve had time to process the current situation.

Meanwhile, Riggsie and Morgan can play with Dan and my mother in heaven, and watch over all those little children who have died unexpectedly over the past year.  Maybe God decided our losses were necessary in order to help those little children.

Rest in peace, lost loving souls.

And don’t anyone dare to tell me to get over it already – it’s just an animal.


ADDENDUM:  As it turned out, I couldn’t stand living without a dog in the house.  Thus began the story of Puppy Cody.


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Images by:  Cordelia’s Mom

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20 Responses to Changes and Losses II: Life’s Sequel (Re-Blog)

  1. Never just an animal. Xo


  2. Oh I feel for you so very, very much. We had to make the ultimate decision for Barney, Maggie’s predecessor. We weren’t ready, and although at a later date when we took Maggie in for her final jabs the vet told us we’d made the right decision, it didn’t make it any easier. Not one bit, and it still hurts.
    In the 80s, I lost a GSD to bloat/twisted gut. She survived the first attack (vet was marvellous) and had another year, then had a second episode and a third at the vet’s so she didn’t come home. You break your heart each time, but still do it. If you haven’t already, please see my post Rainbow Bridge.
    When my time comes, I’m going to be cremated wearing my Dad’s cardy with the pockets filled with dog biscuits.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When and the dog take each other on as partners, a solemn contract is made. They will adore, be loyal, and protect, while you provide shelter, food, companionship, fun, kindness and compassion. While they can’t speak in words, it’s their eyes. When you see that look, you know you have to fulfill the promise you made. It is not ever easy and when you go home alone – or look down the hall hearing some sound. You give each other the best. And remember the best through the tears.
    (and now with Cody, a new chance)
    Lovely post – especially as we are carefully watching the German who is also older and having tummy issues that don’t seem to resolve


    • Oh, no. Your last sentence brings back the nightmare – take that German for x-rays right away. If bloat is caught early, it can be treated. We waited too long with Riggs. He was such a good boy that he continued to run, eat and play even though he was in pain. I only noticed his discomfort at night when I would go to rub his belly and he would groan. I should have known, and I didn’t.

      I don’t mean to scare you, and I’m sure you’re doing everything possible for your pet. It’s just that my heart jumped when I read your last sentence. Good luck with your dog, hopefully it’s just some kind of food sensitivity caused by advancing age (as an old lady, I can relate to that).

      Liked by 1 person

      • She’s under vet care. Doesn’t seem to be bloat. She’s also very emotional and is brought here to calm down. Nothing like sunning in a back yard and having access to a back yard as she wishes. After a few days, she’s better. Looks like some sort of tummy virus that has things terribly upset – arriving with very very loose stools, but happy as a lark without groaning or any sign of discomfort or pain. Seems to be resolving with peace and quiet but I have raised the possibility of needing a senior food….Or else the 2 dogs are plotting sleepovers without including us. The past couple of days fine even with the rain storms…keeping a close eye on her as she is a dear who has visited/fostered here for a long time. Will try again about the food selection…she does get yogurt everyday now which seems to help.


  4. Dan Antion says:

    It’s never just an animal. Our pets are members of our family and we have struggled to do the right thing with each one that we have lost. We remember each dog and cat and we cherish those memories as we embrace the new members of the house. I am sorry for the losses you have had to deal with, and you can give Puppy Cody a hug from us.


  5. lbeth1950 says:

    I have several good dogs and cats waiting for me, as yours are. Thank God for Cody.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sassandsauce says:

    Never never just a dog/cat/gerbil.. But I agree the best you can do to get over the loss is to get a new puppy.. it’s great that you’re giving a puppy a home.. hugs to puppy Cody.. and much love to those on the rainbow bridge..


    • Thank you – and especially thank you for including “gerbil”. So many people forget that those little critters can be loved every bit as much as dogs and cats. In a way, I’m sorry we don’t still have gerbils. It would have been interesting to see how Cody would react – my other dogs seemed to think they were just smaller canines, to be ignored or protected as the case may be.


      • sassandsauce says:

        Wow that would be fun.. isn’t it nice to see unlikely friendship amongst animals! I’ve never actually seen a gerbil in real life.. in India it’s mainly dogs cats birds and fish.. I have a cat myself..A handsome gentlemanly one as you can see from the picture..


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