The sudden death of Sweet Missy has rattled me like no other pet passing. She was MY girl. We had a soulful connection. She wasn't just a dog, she was a full member of our family. I wrote this post the day before her last day.
I saved her from the shelter.
I took her almost everywhere.
I directed her life.
She was my savior.
She followed me from room to room.
She calmed my life.
The morning of her last day, she acted normal. I was getting ready to drive the kids to school so took her outside to go potty. She was playful, jumping around wondering if I'd take her for a walk. We came into the house to gather backpacks, keys and phone when my kids said she looked like she was going to throw-up.
I guided Missy into the garage and from here her behavior was unusual. She walked along hugging the inside wall, head down as if looking for a place to vomit, but she wasn't heaving. She walked around a car and stopped, looking very glassy-eyed and confused.
I lead her out of the garage but if I left go of her collar, she stopped walking. I was trying to get her to the grass but she wanted to walk next to the outside wall of the garage. Seeing that she wasn't going to vomit, I started leading her back into the garage.
She stopped at the open door of the van as if to say she wanted to go with us in the car. She jumped in (a small and weak jump) and curled up on the floor. Only after several hours of a long car drive would she finally lay down so this was not normal. Once we were under way, she moved to the back seat and climbed up to lay down.
After dropping the kids at school, I went directly to the vet. I thought she was having a stroke since I've seen it in past family dogs. And similar to people, you can tell when suddenly the brain starts shutting down. I left her at the vet and after a day of neurological tests, blood tests and finally chest x-rays, I was told she had metastasized cancer on her lung and I needed to make a decision.
I was mad I had left her there all day alone and in a metal cage. She was dying and I wasn't there for her. I didn't see the signs. I still remember the look in her eyes when I walked out of the vet's office. I almost turned the car around to go back and tell her, "I will be back." Whenever I couldn't take her in the car, I always looked straight into her eyes and told her I'd be back soon and everything was ok.
After several lengthy phone calls with my hub, the vet and trying to decide how to handle this with the kids, Missy passed on her own. We don't know her exact age, 10 or 11, she could have been 12 or 13. She was a shelter rescue and I'd like to think we gave her a good life, she certainly made ours better.
Had I been more aware, I would have kept her home to be comfortable in her own environment. Her last day was like another family dog's last day. When they change from happy and normal to sullen and hugging a wall it may be their last day. Walking along a wall was Missy's way of looking for a place to die. She knew she was dying.
If you have an older dog (8+yrs), look for changes in behavior like Missy's. I've heard this more and more but didn't make the connection that morning. I thought we had a few more years left with her. Even on that last day, I thought it may be the beginning of the downhill, but we'd still have at least 6 months. The vet said its very common for them to be normal one minute and preparing to die the next. Hopefully, this post makes you aware.