Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Sad Farewell to Darla

The right decision is often not an easy one to make...Scott and I had been struggling with a decision about our oldest beagle, Darla.  For the past year, she has been afflicted with multiple medical issues, and we knew that she wouldn't make it much longer.  It felt like we had been saying that for several years, but she kept on bouncing back and recovering from whatever ailments she had.  Over the past summer, she began licking her tummy to the point where she licked off all of her fur, and her skin was rubbed raw.  She also stopped eating around that time, and had no energy.  But, amazingly, she bounced back!  Then, just over the last few weeks, she started having multiple, daily accidents inside the house.  To the point where we'd let her out, and within an hour, she was going potty right in front of us, inside the house.

I'm not sure how that became my tipping point, but it hit home that this wasn't something that we could fix.  Last week, she had multiple accidents, during the night, in her bed.  Dogs do not do that where they sleep!  And so on Thursday, I called and made an appointment to put her down on Friday morning.  And wouldn't you know it...she had NO accidents on Thursday, day or night!  I started to second guess the decision, and prayed for a sign that we should either proceed or cancel.  On Friday morning, I came down to a puddle under the kitchen table.  I took that as my sign.

Scott and I took her to the vet's office, met with the technician and the vet, and talked through our options.  The vet mentioned that her right eye was a non-visual eye due to glaucoma, and that it was most likely painful.  She also most likely had internal issues, and only blood work would tell for sure.  She then proceeded to tell us that if the eye didn't respond to medical treatment, surgery would be the next step.  It felt like all of the "options" were just a way to prolong the inevitable, and that her quality of life wasn't where it should be. 

This is the first time I have had to make this kind of decision, and it's so horrible.  I have cried so much, have felt grief beyond belief, and have also felt incredibly guilty...why do I have the right to choose when something else dies? In the end, I know it was the right, humane decision to have made...but it was so hard. After we had made our decision, our vet indicated that she agreed that was the right plan.  She was neutral during the initial discussion, providing us with the medical options, and not attempting to sway our decision.  Hearing her agree, after we had decided, did bring a small amount of least I knew that we weren't being cruel in our decision.

Darla was extra affectionate and puppy-like on Friday morning, in the office.  She had so much energy and kept bouncing back and forth between Scott and me, looking for extra love and snuggles.  Seeing her full of energy created just one more pebble of doubt.  The standard procedure was the give her a shot to sedate her.  We could tell the minute that it took effect...she was sitting between us on the couch, and she just slumped over onto our legs.  We held her this way for another 20 minutes, until they came in to insert a catheter.  At that point, Scott picked her up, and held her in his arms.  When they injected the drug, it was just to the point where her mind was put under, and then it was increased to the point where it stopped her heart.  It took less than a minute. 

I'm so glad that we were there with her during her last moments.  She was surrounded by HER people, with non-stop strokes of affection, and words of love.  Some might say that it was better to have her die in her sleep.  I say that would have been easier for us, but not for her.  This way, we were there for her.

Beyond dealing with the loss, I was worried about how Lucky and the kids would handle it.  Ava was very mature, and said, "Well, at least we still have Lucky."  And G understands that Darla went bye-bye.  He has commented on that several times this weekend. 

As for Lucky, she was confused on Friday night. She wandered around for an hour, desperately searching for something, and finally settled down with me on the couch.  Yesterday, I moved Darla's bed down to the family room to replace the original one that she had ruined with her accidents.  Lucky has yet to lay down in that bed.  And last night, I moved Lucky's bed to the spot that Darla's bed used to occupy in our bedroom.  She refused to lay down until I moved it back to the original spot.  On a positive note, Lucky will be incredibly spoiled now that she's the only dog in our house.  G and I took her for a walk yesterday, which I never would have been able to do with both dogs at once.  She's 12.5 years old, which certainly isn't a puppy...and is the age of Spanky when we put him down.  I can only hope that she's with us for a few more years, and we aren't forced to make this decision again anytime soon.

Scott and Ava have been out of town this weekend, so it's been just me, G and Lucky in the house.  It has felt too big and too empty.  Last night, there was a blanket on the couch where Darla used to lay, and it was bunched up to the point where it looked like there could have been a dog under it.  I let myself pretend for a few seconds that she was still with us. 

Darla was with us for 15 years, 4 months.  She was a beautiful, loving, intelligent, sweet dog, who was wonderful with children.  She outsmarted the other beagles when she wanted treats all to herself, and she always begged by sitting up on her hind quarters, and waving her paws up and down (no, we didn't teach her that!)  She could always sense when I was sad, and would do everything she could to comfort me. I always knew that making this decision for Darla, specifically, was going to be hard.  There was just a connection there that doesn't always happen with all dogs/people.

RIP, sweet girl.  I imagine that you and Spanky are bouncing through the fields together in Rainbow Bridge.  We love you!

Our brand new puppy, Darla! (Aug 2001)

Spanky was instantly intrigued and protective of Darla

This face...I fell in love with her!

Doing her signature, self-taught, begging move! (Jun 2002)

 Lucky and Darla...daughter and friends forever! (Jan 2006)

Lucky, Darla and Spanky (Apr 2006)

Posing beautifully! (Sep 2008)

Ava and Darla, hanging out (Nov 2008)

Garrett trying to feed Darla a ball - no thanks! (Nov 2014)

Their last goodbye (Oct 2016)

Love you, Darla! (Oct 2016)

Soaking in the last moments with our girl (Oct 2016)

Give your pets an extra hug today.  They love unconditionally and ask for so little from us!

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