Brace Yourself: Sad News Ahead

This was taken behind the fire house up in the mountains where I took the dogs each 4th of July to escape the fireworks. Lucky damn shot.

Hello, dear readers,

This past Monday, Sasha was euthanized. I hate that word, but the euphemisms strike me as varying degrees of childish when they come out of my mouth. I don’t judge anyone else who uses them, but for me… anyway, I digress to avoid the pain. As you may know, Sasha has been in a slow but steady decline for many years. She had arthritis, which just kept getting more severe. She had something called laryngeal paralysis, which messed with her breathing and, likewise, was just getting more severe. We kept re-balancing the medications she was on, and we’d achieve a new “normal” for her, but eventually she was in pain whenever she walked even on a fairly serious regimen of drugs. She rested comfortably enough, and she was her normal self, personality-wise (albeit an old, sleepy version of our puppy), but that probably just made it harder for me to accept that the time was coming for her. You could tell she was bored, having been a super-active dog her whole life. (Reminiscing about her, I remembered that there was a time when she got multiple 30-45 minute sessions of ***running*** after Chuck-It thrown balls each and every day.)

Anyway, we’d been monitoring her condition almost fanatically for quite awhile, but the conversation was drifting more and more towards it being time. There was no acute attack of anything, I think it really boiled down to me getting used to the idea long enough to be able to get up my nerve to call the vet. We used the same people, Lap of Love, that we had called for Leo a couple of years ago. It’s not cheap, but we think it’s so worth it. A vet comes to your home, or where ever you’d like (yard, park… whatever), and visits with you for as long as it takes for your pet to settle in. They’ll prompt you to proceed if you don’t (I’m sure I’m not the only person who got cold feet at the critical moment), which means they administer a sedative to your pet. It’s fast-acting but not instant. Sasha asked for her treat that she always gets for shots, but by the time Lisa handed it to her she was already a little woozy and didn’t seem to want it. Still, she wandered back over to me to lie down. I gave her the chin skritches it took me years to get right (for the longest time Lisa was clearly better at petting her than I was, weird as that sounds) until her eyes drooped and her head gently settled onto her paws. Deeply relaxed if not actually asleep, the vet then administers the second, final shot. At that point she drifted into deeper and deeper slumber, snoring soundly a few times… and then she wasn’t. The vet kept the stethoscope on her chest, and told us when she’d well and truly passed.

Ok, I can type again. It went really well, all things considered. She came to rest in one of her classic sleeping poses. Shortly thereafter (the vet doesn’t rush you, you can pet/cry/stare for as long as you need to, but eventually…) we moved her onto a stretcher. “Fun” fact – when we did this with Leo, and I helped move him, the way we held him allowed his head and neck to hang limply. This was nobody’s fault, but damn if it isn’t the image that has stayed with me from that day. I actually notified the service ahead of time that I’d like to avoid that. Not to chastise anyone for the last time, I just really didn’t need to see it again. We had the exact same vet, and she had apologized profusely even though I made it as clear as I could that I didn’t hold anyone responsible; it was just one of those things. ANYWAY, I was able to get one hand under her front paws and chin, and we were able to slide her smoothly onto the stretcher. A blanket covered her and we strapped her in, then I helped carry her to the vet’s vehicle, and off she went.

So, that happened. We cleared out the house of most of her stuff (dear Lord we had bought a lot of beds for her over the years) and took it to the local animal shelter. As the days have gone on I’ve been caught off guard by a few things we missed; her leash and gentle leader were still hanging by the door, that one was rough. I’ve held back the last Chuck-It ball she ever held, and that and her swim collar are going to go in one of those displays people use for autographed baseballs. When I was donating her things I came across her favorite squeaky toy (“Squeaky Dos” it was called, since it was similar to an earlier toy named, you got it, “Squeaky”) and right in that moment I just couldn’t hand it over. No idea what I’ll do with it, but for now Squeaky Dos is on my desk.

I know Lisa writes a lot of our posts here. Don’t take me writing this as a sign that she wasn’t broken up about the whole thing, of course she was. I just felt compelled to get in here and write this.

Sasha died on Monday, Jun 7th, 2021, at about 3:15 (plus or minus). She was 13 years and 10 months old. She is survived by two cats who never did figure out quite what to do with her, and her mommy and daddy (yeah, we’re those people, leave it be) who loved her so, so much.

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