Friday, May 3, 2013

Stay, Pudding, Stay

May already?  I'm back in the house after morning chores, writing this post, waiting for my feet to defrost.  Oh, it is cold and gray and damp outside, reminiscent of a late March day weather-wise.

Things here have been hectic and well, I've been a bit down in the dumps.  One of our little dogs, Pudding, has been having some health problems, but seems to be holding her own, at least for now.  Our wonderful veterinarian prescribed some pills for her congestive heart failure and she is now seemingly feeling better.  She is fourteen years old, after all, and any time we have left is precious.  I find myself petting her and her brother, Teddy, more often than ever.  I know it's awful to take anything for granted, but I'm guilty.  I like to think the people and pets I love will simply go on forever because contemplating the time when we have to part is too painful to bear.

A year ago, Pudding scared me badly when she suddenly started to almost scream in pain while lying in her bed one morning.  The sound cuts you to the core of your heart, it is like nothing I have ever heard from a dog before.  I rushed to comfort her and see what was wrong, and she seemed to be having trouble catching her breath and didn't seem completely conscious.  Incredibly, after a minute or so, she simply shook it off as if nothing had happened, opening her eyes, and gently licking my hand and then ready to go outside and start the day.  I was a wreck.

Pudding lying in her bed this morning. 
The vet could find nothing really wrong with her, even on x-rays, but suspects it is her heart as she does sometimes cough shallowly.  Our vet is a wonderfully caring man.  I have half-jokingly asked him many times if he ever considered treating people, but alas, he is devoted to animals only.  I wish I could find an MD I could trust for my own health care as much as I trust this veterinarian. He started Pudding on a course of heart pills, and for a year they worked, until two weeks ago when she had another episode at 10:30 at night. 

Joel was home and between the two of us, we rushed to her side.  The high-pitched wailing stopped, and we both thought she was dying.  She had stopped breathing and when Joel pressed his head to her chest, he could hear no heart beat.  My heart sank to my toes and the tears began to fall.  She had seemed so chipper lately, eating and drinking, going for her walkies just like always; this was so sudden. 

Just as we both thought all hope was gone, she just as suddenly rallied, trying to hold her head up.  I fell to my knees and cradled her head, and she opened her eyes and looked at me and licked my hand and simultaneously rolled on her side so I could rub her tummy.  By now my tears were forming a puddle on the floor.  I thought she had gone and now she was back.  After five minutes she got up and took a drink from her bowl and then went to the door as she usually does to go outside.  If we hadn't witnessed the whole event, it would be hard to believe anything had happened at all.

I spent the better part of an hour lying next to her on the floor, listening to her heart and worrying.  Finally Carl said I should go to bed as she seemed to be resting peacefully and kept looking at me quizzically.  I slept terribly that night, getting up to check on her and dreading what I would find. But every time she greeted me with her bright eyes and her tail wagging.

 The next morning, the vet prescribed another heart med to be added to her current one and now, eight days later, she seems to be feeling much better, but I have to remind myself that the day is coming.  I had a frank talk with our veterinarian and told him I didn't want to be prolonging her life out of selfishness on my part to let her go.  He assured me that she didn't seem to be in any chronic pain, such as with arthritis, and that the pain she does experience is much like angina heart pain in people, intense, but fleeting.  He thought her quality of life was still quite good and we should feel free to enjoy however much time we have left.

I went into a bit of a depression over all of this, I am ashamed to admit.  Yes, I know Pudding is only a dog, and I have only had her for five years.  Heck, when she first arrived, I wasn't too terribly thrilled about acquiring a second dog, but took her in because she was so cute and in need of a new home.  Housebreaking a nine year old dog was not without  'What the heck did I just get myself into?' moments, to be sure, but it was all worth it.  I have NEVER had a dog as devoted to me as Pudding.  She always wants to be at my side and I often look up to see her adoring gaze fixed on my face.  She thinks I am Perfection Personified.  (Well, except for bath and grooming time.) She has the sweetest disposition of any dog I have ever known, to me she is pure love.

I left yesterday to go to exercise class in town and when I returned home an hour later, I was smiling ear to ear as I heard her joyous barking on the other side of the door.  There is no one in my life who is THAT happy to see me after I've been gone a mere ninety minutes.  Pudding views every one of my homecomings no matter how short as if I'd been far away for years.  She presses herself against me, running around my legs and making insanely happy doggy noises and I have to bend down and greet her, stroking her soft head and rubbing her tummy.  She often takes one of my fingers in her mouth very gently and holds on for a few seconds as if to reassure herself I am truly there. 

She is a Champion Licker, always has been, and I used to discourage her, but no more.  She can lick all she wants. 

I aim to cherish the time we have left. 

I pray she stays just a little bit longer.


Beth said...

Hi Karen, How frightening and sad. I'm glad Pudding is still with you and I pray that you will have a lot more time with her.
Blessings, Beth

Carol said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I have had poodles all my life. One I had to have put down at 14 years old, another died last year. My poodle boy, Elton I rescued in 2001. He's probably 14 or 15 getting along ok but can't see well. He thinks I hung the sun moon and stars. Strictly a mama's boy, and he doesn't care who knows it. He has loved me through death, divorce, hurricanes, moved with me 4 or 5 times. What will I do? but like you I know the time is not far off. They really steal our hearts, don't they?

El Gaucho said...

I'm so happy to hear that Pudding is doing OK. I have many of the same feelings as you, my dogs are so much a part of my life that I can't even comprehend that there will be a day when they won't be there. Here's to hoping that Pudding has many years of happiness left with you.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Oh Karen how I feel for you. My eyes are all welled up from your post. We just lost our 8 yr old Great Dane very unexpectedly a few weeks ago. She was the gentlest dog I have ever had. She and our chihuahua would follow me wherever I went...sometimes running into me from the back becasue I would remember something and stop suddenly to turn around causing a pile up! I miss her terribly. Katie our chi has become lost, just as I have. She was so big it seemed she was always in the way in this small house, now this house seems so huge without her. Katie has become changed from being fearless to fearful. I guess her big sister isn't there to back her up anymore. All our pets are geriatric now and we have lost a few in just the past few years due to age. Great Danes have a short life span due to their size, but this was just so unexpected. Not like cancer as the rest to where you knew it was coming but of course never ready for the end. One minute she was fine, the next she was in distress. Each time we lose one of our babies they take a piece of my heart with them. I just hope they find each other and are getting along at the Rainbow Bridge.
I pray that Pudding continues to do well with her medicationa and gives you lots more days with her.
You'll all be in my thoughts and prayers.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear, dear Karen ~ I was thinking about you earlier wondering where you are. I'll email you later.

I do hope Pudding is with you a little while longer.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Lona said...

Oh dear. It is always so heart retching when they are in pain and you do not know what is wrong with them. Just like when our kids were babies.Dogs never ask for anything but attention and they love you always no matter what you do or say, unlike people. :)I hope she will get along well and be around for you for many years to come.

HolleyGarden said...

Oh, Karen, I'm so sorry that Pudding is not doing well. It is so sad to lose a loved one, even if that loved one is a pet. I hope that she has many more days ahead of her than you anticipate. It's good that you have a vet that you trust, and that he is doing all for Pudding that can be done. I hope the weather warms up for you so you and Pudding can take some walks together in the warm sunshine.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, it is terrible to lose a pet but it is worse to be without one. Reggie is six and such an easy going terrier. However Duffy, seven months, is quite a challenge, ran out in traffic the other day and I thought I had lost him, leash broke. All of the cars stopped on a dime and waited until I caught him! (This was a very busy street). My heart was in my mouth and now I have fears about even taking him out.


Alison said...

I'm so glad that Pudding rallied after her scary episode with you and Joel. I hope the new heart meds keep her going for a while longer. I've lost kitties that I loved dearly, so I know just how you feel. I've been wondering about you, since you haven't posted in a while. Good to hear from you. I hope you folks get some warmer weather soon.

Junebug said...

Isn't it crazy how attached we get to our pets. I'm so glad to her Pudding is doing better. My jazi is going to the vet in about 2 hrs. Hopefully we have a good outcome also. Give Pudding's and extra pet on the head for me!!

Heather said...

Karen... I know exactly how you feel... my oldest "girl" is 14 this year too... she is pretty much deaf now, sometimes has a hard time getting up, and I think her eyesight is waning... often when I think about her, I cry in fear of the day I will lose her... for those of us who love animals, especially our pets, it is not unusual to dread what we know will come... my thoughts are with you and positive thoughts going out to Pudding! Cheers~

Susan Baker said...

Hello my dear friend. I am sorry to hear Pudding has been poorley. I hope she is feeling better. x

africanaussie said...

Dogs have a way of finding a special place in our hearts. True love - I guess we could learn a lot from them.

Missy said...

Give Pudding an extra tummy rub from Missy and me. Missy turns 13 soon and has some health worries now too. We are lucky to have such beautiful faithful friends.

Anonymous said...

My gosh, reading your post brought back so many memories for me. I still have not replaced my dogs, because the sadness of losing them was so great. I can certainly understand your feelings. It is good to hear the bark when you get home. It means the world.

Dandelion and Daisy said...

So sorry to hear that your "pup" isn't feeling well. I can't imaging going through that scare. Our dogs love us for who we are and trust us so much. It is heartbreaking to think we can't make them well or that we might lose them. I guess all you can do is pray and enjoy her everyday you can!

Lana said...

Don't feel guilty over having such emotions over a dog because they truly are our buddies and often sense our moods, very in touch with their claimed masters. This kind of love is indeed pure and that's what makes it so darn special and painful to lose! I am sorry she is nearing the end. She sure had got to live with special people in a special home!


Chad B said...

Karen, I'm so glad that you are introspective enough to recognize the passage of time and that you won't have Pudding forever. Spoil her, let her keep licking you, maybe give her some extra doggy treats . . . do everything you can now so that when the time comes you won't have any doubts that you loved her as well as you could and that she had a happy life because of the bond you shared.