UPDATE and Warning: There is no sugar or sugar substitutes below. This may be unpalatable to some readers.
My Kayla-girl passed away on Friday, December 30, 2016. She was one month shy of 13 years old. I made the decision to put her down. I also prayed, numerous times, for God to remove the responsibility of taking some one's life from me. And yes, she was a someone, not a something. A very important someone in my life.
She was having trouble walking. In fact, she began to not want to walk at all. But when she did get going, she could walk longer and faster than I expected. She held her back legs straight and stiff when she walked. It seemed to support her better. Sometimes she fell, and when she did, sometimes we would have to wait a while before she could get moving again, and she would limp so badly, We would head back home. There were many times that I thought I would have to find a way to leave her where we were and get the car, but she amazed me by always making it home.
She also had lipomas all over her body. One I missed under her arm pit, which grew to the size of a baseball. By the time I found it, the lipoma had involved too many muscles and nerves to remove. This compromised her front leg.
But, God she was tough. She never complained. She loved me no matter what. She looked at me with such love that my eyes burn just thinking about her.
I was selfish. I couldn't do it anymore. She needed to be lifted up to get in the car. I helped her up and down stairs...when she would let me. She was very proud. I heard what I considered horror stories of people who couldn't make the decision either; who let their animals live when they couldn't get up. One lady told me she let her cat pee on a bed until they finally decided to take her to the vet. Then they had to throw the bed out after the vet said nothing could be done for her.
And then there was the cost of keeping her alive. Her Cushing medication alone was $177 every three months. She was on pain medication during the day and muscle relaxants at night. And there were the other four animals to think about, but I couldn't think about them.
I reached a point where the culmination of everything, the cost, the effort, the time, it got to be more than I could bear. I talked to my vet on the day I decided to do it. They said she would get to the place where she couldn't get up and I would have to call someone to the house, something my finances would never allow. Brooks told me I was doing the most loving, kind thing for Kayla.
I wanted to believer her, but the way Kayla died makes it hard to believe now.
Last August, 2016, I received an email from the Humane Society in Tampa. They had a new wing, with a "special room" for euthanasia. And they were cheap. Way cheap. $70.00. I spoke to an employee of the facility for months, until I finally decided it was time.
I took the day off of work. A friend went with me. I brought my other 2 dogs. I had insisted that they give her a sedative. Although my friend told me they do it that way anyway, I had a feeling....this was an underfunded company. They would likely try to skimp on the extras, and I was right. I insisted. What great and divine inspiration, because if she had died the way she did while she was awake, it would have been horrible.
When I got to the room, it was the same type of veterinary room at my vet's office. It was small, sterile with a metal table, with towels were thrown on the floor. We sat on the towels. Kayla was nervous and laid her head on my lap. My stomach had been upset for days and the thought to stop this and take her home kept looping around and around and around, right up until it was too late. I cried, my tears falling on her head. I told her I was sorry, over and over again. I tried to sing her song, but I couldn't get the words out.
The sedative takes about 10 minutes to work . Soon she was snoring on my lap. She was so peaceful. I wondered if this was the first real pain-free time she's had for awhile.
They seemed to have forgotten us. I was afraid she was going to wake up. Every minute that went by was more agonizing. When will this be over?
Finally, the tech and another female came to the room. The tech fumbled to find a vein, complaining that it was the sedative that made the veins retract. Later I was able to see that it was true, but God help the person they talk out of giving their animal a sedative.
As the fatal shot began to take hold, Kayla began retching. Her chest heaved, but her lungs had shut down. They call it a "reflex." I call it horrible. Almost hysterical, I asked them why this was happening. They said it was the sedative. Her last breath was a desperate attempt to breathe. On her last try, her jaw made this weird sound and jutted out unnaturally. I can only guess that she dislocated it trying to breath. It took her several minutes to die.
What a horrible way to die. It was a horrible thing to watch.
I know it had to be done, but I feel that I should have waited...I was selfish.
I should have left.
I should have gone to my vet. My excuse was that Kayla was afraid of the vet, which she is...was. But the Humane Society was cheaper and I was led to believe they had a special room for animals, which turned out to be very un-special. My vet would have been kinder. They would have told me what to expect. Kayla would have had enough of the injection that she would have died more quickly.
My only comfort is that she didn't know what was happening. Neither did the other dogs, which I brought into the room to see her after she died. I did not want them to see the process. I am very glad I didn't. Another divine inspiration. Jade licked her, but was focused on the shiny painting of a cat. Tyler was completely oblivious, as he usually is.
I am glad I had a three day weekend. I cried like a baby for the entire three days. One of the good things that came out of this is now, I know a little more about the process.
I can't tell if the dogs (or the cats) miss her or not. They seem to have filled the gap quite easily. Tyler has taken to Jade as he used to be with Kayla. That could be one sign. Sometimes they seem sad. I was crying on my walk this morning and Jade seemed concerned. I told her I was okay, just missing Kayla. She seemed okay with that. They both seem down sometimes, but I interject a lot of human qualities on them, so I really don't know.
I keep almost calling Jade, Kayla. "Kay...Jade.." is how it comes out.
I feel guilty about the relief of stress. Kayla had almost stopped eating completely and had lost a lot of weight in a year. She was 30 pounds down from just a few years ago. There's less stress in the mornings and evenings trying to find something she would eat. She ignored the usual roast chicken and other things she loved when she was younger.
And the relief of time, effort, and....sadly, financial relief.
I bought a hip sling for Jade. At 10, she is showing signs of hip stiffness. Ortho Dog had developed this harness that loops around the back legs to the chest, using the chest for the power.I'll check the other two dogs for lumps much more often and get them removed. Now that I know that soft tissue lumps can harden, enlarge and become debilitating, as they did with Kayla.
I will harbor a conflicting set of emotions as long as I have memory, but I vow to do better next time.And I hope I will be ready.