Today is one of my harder days to go through, if not the hardest.
Today I had to take both Lucy and Max to the vets and put them to sleep.
Lucy had developed feline pancreatitis, feline cardiomyopathy, and small cell intestinal lymphoma. Of the three, the lymphoma might have been put into remission with current veterinary medicine. But the first two combined to cause her to not be able to keep food down. She would eat for several days, only to go into ballistic vomiting where she’d loose everything. Over time she dropped from 12 pounds to 4 pounds. She was slowly starving to death amidst all the food we could feed her. When I returned from a business trip and was told she’d dropped to four pounds, I decided to put an end to this. What we were doing at the vets was only postponing the inevitable.
Max developed complications from being an old Lab. He was fourteen years and ten months, nearly 15 years. Max developed canine Cushing’s Syndrome. It affected his hind quarters, especially his ability to stand upright. It also made him incontinent. The worst part of this only lasted the last two months, but it was rapid and deleterious. It took Judy and I to lift him up around his hind quarters. Once up he would slowly walk, but then would collapse when he stopped. He was still up for walks, having walked just yesterday evening. It wasn’t a long walk by any stretch, but it was still a walk. Just as he’d done starting at five months, he would bark at me to take him out.
One key reason for all this happening today is my need to travel for my job. I was in Killeen Texas for a good two and a half weeks right before this. I knew the animals were ill, but I had hopes that Max would last a little longer than he did and that Lucy might be on a path to remission that would allow her to live with me a little longer. But that wasn’t to be.
When I returned home late Friday I could tell that Max was in pretty bad shape. When I checked on Lucy at the vet’s the next morning I was told about her drop in weight to a little over four pounds. That’s when I came to the decision I had to let them both go. I had hoped this wouldn’t happen like this, but life at time boxes you into hard decisions that have to be made no matter what. This was one of those times.
Today was touching all the way around. We took Max to a McDonald’s next to the vets and got him his favorite, a basic vanilla ice cream cone. Meanwhile, the vets, knowing what was coming, had given Lucy all the Fancy Feast she could eat. She made a meal of four cans worth. We all knew she wouldn’t keep it down for very long, but Lucy was happy, as was Max, and that was all the really mattered.
When we got into the vet nearly the entire staff crowded into the waiting room where Max was lying, just to say farewell. He was something of a local celebrity there, and everyone knew Max and he knew them. Lucy had also become their cause célèbre, and everyone wanted to see her get through her medical challenges. But we’d all come to the honest conclusion that wasn’t going to happen.
In the end I held both Max and Lucy. I held Max’s head in my hands while he went to sleep and Lucy in my arms.
The photo at the top probably expresses the odd tie between the two of them best. While neither one came into this household together, they grew to tolerate, and then to stick by one another. Somehow it seems fitting they both left together.
That’s it for this installment. I needed to get this posted to mark their passing. I’ll be writing more in the days ahead as part of a personal healing process. Right now I have two voids in my soul, one big and one small. They’ll fill, just like all the others have (we’ve kept Labs for the past 33 years). I’ve written about all I can for now without loosing it.
Lucy will remain the mascot of Arcane Science Lab for the time being. The photo on the masthead was taken a few years back with my smartphone. I was in the TV room with a blanket over my legs. Lucy had crawled up into my lap between my knees, snuggled in, and gone to sleep. She’d started that back in November 2012 when I had my left knee partially replaced. She knew I was sick and in pain and would spend the night with me while I slept in my recliner as my knee surgery slowly healed. She was there for me when I was in pain. I tried to do the same for her, but it just wasn’t to be.