This girl, Lucy and her sister Lola joined our family six years ago. Today we say a tearful farewell to a good good dog! These liter mates and sisters, my birthday buddies, have shared the highs and lows of life in the kingdom for six faithful years.
Lucy lived a life full of excitement and adventure. With seven kids and multitudes of visitors to the kingdom, she was never without a hand petting her, a hug around her neck or a kid to chase. She loved like only a dog can love, unconditionally. No matter the kind of day you were having she was sure to greet you at the door tail thumping, nose sniffing (inappropriately) and if I did not know better, I would say a smile on her face!
Four and a half years ago Lucy was diagnosed with Lyme. Never did it cross our minds that Lyme would be what took her from us. Since our move to Florida, her Lyme "incidents" have increased. She had struggles occasionally with her rear legs, standing and sitting would be painful for a day or two, and with some Benadryl and some love she would be rebound shortly. Sometimes she would refuse to eat first thing in the morning when she was not feeling the greatest, but in typical lab fashion she would rebound and gobble her meal a few hours later.
Friday morning she would not get up for breakfast. Her front paws were swollen and one of her rear legs was giving her pain. She was lethargic and refused food. Since this was the first time we had seen outward symptoms, the swelling, we took her to the vet for a visit.
They checked her over, and gave her some meds, anti inflammatories, penicillin and pain meds. They ran a blood check, and were concerned that the numbers were not accurate, as her outward symptoms did not match her blood work indicators, so they sent the blood work out for further testing.
Lucy is a very smart dog... when she doesn't want something, she wont change her mind. Friday we ran the gamete of creative ways to get her pills in her - hide them in her favorite treat, banana. She would eat all around the pills and spit them out on the floor at our feet, wrapped in cheese...same response. This day we finally got them into her by crushing them and sprinkling the pills on her food.
Saturday we got a call that we needed to come in and get a steroid medication for her and that she should stop taking the anti inflammatories. She was still being finicky with her food choices, but did eventually eat. Sunday she looked like her old self, had a little spring back in her step and aside from resting a lot, seemed to be doing better. Then she started vomiting. Knowing this was a potential side effect from the meds we did not panic, but made all good efforts to get her outside when she needed to and spent the rest of the time cleaning up the indoor messes...
Monday she stopped eating all together. I stopped by the vet again to discuss this, and they indicated that we needed to get some food into her and her meds. So we crushed up her meds and added them to her other favorite treat, peanut butter. She ate all that. Tuesday, I found myself back at the vet, again asking what we could do to get her to eat. They said to keep doing what we are doing with the meds, as she must have them, and try different kinds of food. However even the crushed meds in peanut butter trick failed to entice her on Tuesday evening. We made her some boiled chicken and rice. However, even the little bits that we got into her, came back up. She was still drinking, but even that did not stay put for long.
Yesterday I went back to the vet on my way home from an errand and once again, asked them if there were any other things we could do to get her to eat and keep it down. We still thought that maybe the meds were making her sick. They said that we should skip our scheduled 8:30 appointment for Thursday's blood draw and recheck, and bring her in at 4:30 that afternoon.
Dopey and I arrived at the appointment and when they weighed her we found that she had lost 10 lbs in 4 days. The doctor wanted to make a plan to diagnose what was happening with her, and in light of last weeks elevated numbers from her blood work, redo the blood work and do some x-rays. The potential that this was life threatening, still was not really on our mind. She had no fever, and she was no longer in pain. The doctor was thinking that the x-rays would show that she had a bowl obstruction or some other easy fix. With this hope, I ran Dopey back to the house so he could prepare to go to his night class, and returned to the vet with Bashful so he could help me get Lucy back home.
The doctor was prepared to talk to me when I arrived back at the vet. I had only been gone 10 minutes so I mistakenly took this as a good sign that there would be an easy fix for our Lucy. We went to the room to meet up with Lucy and started to review the xrays, while it became apparent quickly what the issue was, it was not going to be the easy fix for the ol' girl that I/we had hoped for. Her kidneys are no longer shaped like kidney beans, rather, they looked more like small heads of cauliflower. Her blood work had elevated so much in the last four days, that the machine could not even tabulate what the actual numbers were. Lyme Disease had attacked her kidneys and they were failing. The best we could hope for was to keep her comfortable until her passing. No treatment available. Lucy is dying.
I was alone with Bashful, so I had him call the Prince, who was on his way home from work, to ask him to stop at the vets. Then I called Dopey, Lucy's master, and had him come over to the vets before leaving for class, so that the doctor could share this information with both of them. I did not want to be the one that was solely responsible for processing this information or the decisions that needed to be made and I especially needed Lucy's master to hear directly from the doctor her prognosis.
We met together as a family and determined that we would get Lucy some medications for the vomiting and some fluids for dehydration, and take her home so that everyone had a chance to say their goodbyes throughout the evening. Before school this morning we took photos of the kids with her. This morning, Dopey and I took her back to the vet to have her put to sleep.
I won't lie. I am not really a dog person, or a kid person, but as a mom, this is hard. It is hard to see your children sobbing so hard that their whole body shakes. It is hard to see your kids with their red rimmed eyes as they continue to think and ponder their relationship with their family friend and pet, and what Lucy's absence in the house will mean to them personally. It is hard to drag them to the normal, dinner, school etc when their hearts are breaking. I have cried more for them and their tender hearts than I have for the actual passing of Lucy.
She was a good good dog! She will be missed by her sister Lola and her Master Brandt, as well as all her other two legged siblings and parental caregivers. We are so grateful for the Doctor Seims and her staff at the Lakewood Animal Hospital for caring for Lucy and our family with such kindness and love. Her passing was smooth and peaceful.