Christmas Day and he’s looking even better and the swelling in his back leg is starting to go down a little. My husband and I didn’t exchange presents this year but the greatest gift we both got was having Patriot with us for one more Christmas!
But on January 3, 2015 the lab results were in and it was official. Patriot has cancer. We would continue on with the steroid treatment, hope for the best and just make him as comfortable as possible. Although we’ve always made him feel loved, it was time to take that to “off the charts” level.
January 16, 2015 – the steroids are causing him to pant all the time and drink a lot which means he has to go out to use the bathroom almost every hour. He can’t make it up & down the stairs anymore so (since I’m not working) we’ve switched sleeping arrangement. I sleep downstairs on the couch Sunday through Thursday nights and then my husband sleeps downstairs with him Friday night and Saturday night. These aren't restful nights for us but they aren’t for him either. I cry almost every night. It was cold every evening and often there was even still snow on the ground but I think it must have felt good to him because he would go out – even in the middle of the night – and just lie on the ground. He would eventually push his front end up but we had to lift him up under the back end. So because of this, if he was outside you needed to be out there with him to get him up.
January 24, 2015 – he can’t walk very far without having to stop and lie down. He continues to lose weight although his eating is still mostly good. There are days were he looks bright-eyed but I began to think it was time. I even think maybe we should have already made this decision but we just can’t bring ourselves around to doing it.
January 27, 2015 – we’ve finally decided that it is time. My husband said he would call the vet’s office the next day to schedule the appointment. He said that everyone at the office was in tears as well when he called. They’ve taken care of Patriot since he was 9 weeks old and they were instrumental in helping him survive Parvo Virus. The plan was for them to come out on Saturday, the 31st. We made another change in the sleeping arrangements, brought a twin mattress downstairs and we are all sleeping in the living room with him.
Our friend AC came over on the 28th to say goodbye and with some framed pictures that she made for us. She had taken the pictures of him as well.
January 29, 2015 – he really wasn’t doing well and after talking it over with my husband, I called the vet’s office and change the appointment from Saturday to Friday. He would only be with us for one more day.
Our dog sitter came over to say goodbye and gave us a printout of a memorial statue that he ordered for us to have.
January 30, 2015 – one of the worst days in a long time. Today was the day we were to say goodbye. While you know it is for the best because you don’t want them to live in pain and be miserable, the thought of them no longer being with you is soul crushing. We were determined to CELEBRATE him today and to make his final hours with us be filled with things he enjoyed and of course extra extra love.
We scrambled some eggs for him. A scrambled egg was the key to get him eating again when he was a baby recovering from Parvo so it was only fitting that it would be his last supper as well. He had a piece of toast too and really seemed to enjoy them both.
Later we decided that we’d talk him for a “walk” but we knew he wouldn’t be able to go far. He loved going for walks when he was younger. So with the help of a towel supporting his back-end, my husband took him outside. His tail wagged and wagged. He was so happy to be doing this again. We only went out to our side yard and he had to stop and rest twice but he was so excited to be out there. Quite the contrast from the dog that back in the day would run and jump and catch the Frisbee out in that side yard. We shot a video of his “final” walk. To this day it makes me smile and makes me cry.
That walk outside pretty much wore him out so we spent the rest of the day inside, loving on him, crying and taking pictures. We kept a constant watch on the clock cringing as each minute ticked by knowing our time with him was getting shorter and shorter. I just wanted to stop time right then and there.
He hadn't finished all of his eggs from earlier so we gave him the remainder of those. He continued to rest. We took more pictures and we cried more tears.
He wandered in to the front part of the house and looked out the windows. I wondered if he knew we were waiting on Dr. Allen & AJ to arrive.
They got to the house around 1:45PM. In typical Patriot fashion, he was happy to see them and wagged his tail and bounced around a little bit. Its amazing how when adrenalin kicks in, you have more energy. He followed them into the living room. AJ got on the floor and loved on him. She has known him since we took him to the office that very first day as an extremely sick little puppy. She nursed him back to health. She helped save his life back then and now she had to help us say goodbye. The circle of life, I guess.
He “fought” the initial shot which was to relax him. He never was a fan of getting shots but who really is. They let the shot take its effect and let us love on him some more while they prepared the final needle. Just like when we had to say goodbye to our first dog General, I had a moment where I wanted to shout, “Stop! Don’t do it. Let’s give him more time.” but I knew in my heart that this was what was best no matter how much it broke my heart.
Since he was a larger dog, they brought two vials but they didn’t even have to use all of the first one. He was gone after half of the injection. I try to find comfort in that this was certainly a sign that his body was ready. They stepped out of the room and let us have as long as we needed / wanted to remain there with him. We clipped some hair from him to keep and put it in a baggie that would eventually go in his memory box. It was approximately 2:10PM - Patriot was in Heaven with his brother General. He was no longer in pain. He no longer had cancer.
It was so difficult watching them drive away with him. I think we were both numb
Our lives sure were better because he had been part of it. He helped me get through some difficult times. And although he had NUMEROUS health problems throughout his life, we never regretted spending a penny on him. His value was greater than any financial bottom line.
Five months have passed since he’s been gone. Its taken me several days just to type up this post because I’ve cried through every keystroke. There will never be another R Miracle Patriot W Skelton (his registered name).