I’ve had “write blog post” on my daily schedule for the last six days. I keep moving it.
Regular readers (ha, as if I’ve been a regular writer) know that for the past thirteen or so months, my life has been more personal and less business.
It started when our 11-year old “healthy” dog, Nemo, died suddenly as he was walking into the house one afternoon.
That rocked me back on my heels and sort of set the whole family adrift.
Then, I took Tango to the veterinary hospital for drinking too much water and we wound up with same-day splenectomy surgery and an eventual two-cancer diagnosis.
Tango’s health was up and down for a few months, then things evened out.
We had a good summer until Lily took a turn for the worse.
We’d been dealing with canine cognitive dysfunction for over a year and with, I think degenerative myelopathy. She was a trooper and didn’t quit until she finally couldn’t stand on her own. It happened suddenly and we called the veterinarian to come that very day. She had a great 15.5 years, but it was still difficult to say goodbye to that sweet girl.
Two dogs in seven months.
That was tough. Especially knowing that Tango was up against severe osteoarthritis and two different types of cancer. Thank goodness Schooner was in good health.
He was on medication four times a day, was still getting massage and laser to help with the osteoarthritis, and seemed to be coasting along, with an occasional off-day (which I watched like a hawk). He was doing well enough that we felt comfortable enough to go on vacation and leave Tango and Schooner with a wonderful house sitter and a friend who took excellent care of both the dogs.
In mid-November, Schooner was lethargic and had a slight cough.
I thought he had the dog flu. I took him to the veterinary hospital hoping to get some antibiotics to help him feel better. Imagine my shock when I was told he had an arrhythmia and was given a referral to a cardiologist. The diagnosis dealt another blow: dilated cardiomyopathy.
The cardiologist wouldn’t give us a prognosis but said sudden death was possible.
We started an intense medication regimen for Schooner, hoping to buy some time.
In December, Tango started a slow, but steady decline.
He was less able to maneuver through the house. I added a ramp so he could go outside more easily. I bought orthopedic beds. Still, he was moving less. His tail still wagged, but even that was becoming less frequent. One evening he didn’t want his dinner.
We said goodbye to Tango on December 13 at home.
Tango was my favorite, he was my business partner, and my best friend. I felt as if I’d been run over by a semi-truck.
We made it through Christmas with just Schooner.
To be honest, we started our holiday celebration early after Schooner’s diagnosis because we didn’t know how long we’d have him. The medication seemed to be making Schooner feel normal again. And, like Tango, we dropped into a steady “new normal” routine.
Things seemed to be going so well, I had let myself forget that he had a fatal heart diagnosis.
I had to travel to ClickerExpo to present some talks and we didn’t want Schooner home alone during the day for so many hours, plus he needed mid-day medication. On January 16, I took Schoons to my parent’s place on Lake Anna and came home the next day to fly out to California.
As I was boarding the plane, I got a call from my dad telling me Schooner had just collapsed.
I didn’t know it then, but Schooner died immediately. And there I was, boarding a flight that would take me 3,000 miles away for the next eight days. It was, without a doubt, one of the worst days of my life. Helpless, lost, heartbroken, numb — all those words described my state of mind.