November 1, 2009 will forever be remembered as one of the worst days of my life. Have you ever had to hold the paw of the one you love most, and kiss their nose just before they peacefully drift off to sleep forever? I hadn't had to ever in my life ... until this past Sunday.
Oliver was our miracle baby from the beginning. A puppy with all odds against him, he fought through a horrible case of pneumonia and stunned all doctors by not only surviving, but thriving - all the while, winning over their hearts. He loved children. He loved his brother, Wendell, and would bathe him each night before snuggling up tight to him to sleep. He would run so fast that his little moustache would blow in the wind and remind me of Falcor from "the neverending story"; thus his middle name.
He just turned 4 on Wednesday. Since he was I'll, we promised him a full celebration as soon as he was healthy again. We bought him a monster sized loofa dog on Saturday - his favorite toy - to have on hand for his homecoming this coming Tuesday, the day that the vet told us to expect him back home.
We breathed a sigh of relief when we received the update call at 6am this morning from the emergency vet. He had a stellar night and was even up walking around and would be offered some water. Things were looking up and we were on cloud nine. That Oliver - he always pulls through.
Then just over 4 hours later a call came in. We were on the road to Columbus for a 60th birthday lunch for my mom . "Oliver is showing trends we don't like .... More x-rays needed .... More bloodwork ...".
At noon another call. "Weak ... Potential liver failure ... Septic shock ... Potential we will lose him". A follow up call. "30% chance of survival with second surgery. 0% without it ... $5000 to try ... In pain".
Decision time. Gut wrenching, rip your heart out of your chest, cause you to vomit, decision. Take the chance? Or let him go peacefully? It was awful. Worse than awful. So much to consider. People waiting for an answer. Being three hours away.
With prayers to God and a temporary sense of peace, we made the decision. With a wavering voice, I told my husband, "Oliver needs to be Jesus' puppy now". The decision was one that, given his past health history, the vet thought was best. Then it was time to get to him. The vet thought they could keep him comfortable until we arrived, so we could hold him and tell him once more how incredibly much we loved him. Waiting in that stale room was so painful, but nothing compared to the pain to come. The doors opened and Oliver was wheeled into the room for his last encounter with us. He laid so quietly in his familiar bed, unable to lift his head to look at us. But we talked to him. And pet him. And kissed him. And reminded him of how much we loved him and how we would miss him terribly and never let him be forgotten. We told him it was going to be okay. We apologized for what he had to go through and that we couldn't save him. We cried. We shook. We felt more lost than we ever have in our life.
Holding on to him as he took his last breath is so foggy to me now. I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I saw him take his last breath - I felt it - yet I still keep waiting for him to walk down the hall. I keep waiting for him to scratch the front door to ask to go outside. I keep waiting to hear him make noises as he dreams through the night. I can't wrap my head around the fact that none of that is ever, ever going to happen again.
This is the most pain I have ever experienced. And it is double painful because I have to watch Kevin go through the pain as well - and I want to protect him. While I hate that Oliver died at such a young age - and feel that he was cheated out of life - I am thankful that Riley was young enough to not have a clue what was going on and that I could protect her from pain as well. Sunday was painful, but we were numb. Monday was the hardest - the numbness had worn off, but the pain was still there. The house felt 'wrong'. It was still. It was quiet. And that was the oddest part of all - Oliver didn't bark. He didn't make noise. The fact that quiet and stillness felt weird shouldn't have. But his presence was gone. We knew he wasn't there.
I asked my mom how I will ever survive losing a person in my life if I am enduring this much pain from a pet. Her answer was so right. I am experiencing the same amount of pain for my pet as I will for a person because he WAS a person to me. He was a family member. He was my first baby. I will miss him every single day of my life. God Bless Oliver.