The heartbreaking decision between Life and Death

Doggie Heaven just got the best, sweetest, friendliest, most lovable dog in the whole world. Minnie was always a happy dog and brought so much love and joy into our family. She never barked and loved everybody and everybody loved her. [Ok, maybe she barked 20-30 times, but that’s pretty good for being a one year old puppy.]

She didn’t know or care about personal space with people or other dogs, she just wanted to be your friend. She would lean up against everyone she met – wanting some love – and if she knew you were a dog person, she would slide down to your feet, and roll over hoping for a belly rub. She loved to nudge her nose under your hand to get you to pet her. She just wanted to sniff and play with every dog she met, whether they wanted to or not. She loved chasing and running with our neighbor dogs Gabby and Gertie.

She peed on the carpet maybe 3-4 times at most before being potty trained at 8 weeks. She went to her kennel for the first time at 10 weeks without even a whimper! When smells of food filled the air, especially popcorn, she was never a mooch, she just waited patiently to clean up any “crumbs”! 😉

My 3 girls loved to put her Kong up their shirt because they wanted Minnie to tickle them as she tried to get it out. I could make her wag her tail just by looking at her with a smile. After I worked a hard day outside in the heat, she loved to lick my sweaty face and head. She fetched tennis balls but wasn’t obsessed. She would play keep away with a stick, and the girls would chase her and eventually would get her to stay long enough for them to grab it from her.

It’s so sad she was still a puppy. It’s not like losing an old dog that had lived a full dog’s life, but like losing a life way too young. We are all devastated with grief as we loved that dog with all of our hearts. The girls cried themselves to sleep, especially our biggest dog lover. And they cried when they woke up. We cried lots of tears, not from bumps, hurt feelings, or being scared, but our first tears together from heart-breaking sorrow. My wife and I haven’t cried this much since our dads died. We just watched Marley and Me last weekend not knowing we would be living the ending just a week or two later, but in a way it helped prepare the girls for what was to come. Minnie’s tragedy has brought us closer as a family.

For our local friends and neighbors, it’s probably best not to bring up the subject for awhile. We may consider another dog someday, maybe next year, but none will every be able to compare to Minnie. Hug your loved ones tight every day and every night and tell them you love them. {Please don’t say you’re sorry, just say some prayers.}

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
:-( . . . 😐 … … … :-) . . .

[That was the eulogy I started writing last August, the day we didn’t think Minnie would come home after we had left her overnight at the vet, partially paralyzed. Let me explain…]

We had a big scare last summer after surgery on her leg to remove extra cartilage (OCD). She was recovering great, but after 4 weeks she started limping then quickly had trouble walking and by the next day she couldn’t walk at all. We thought it was related to the leg surgery, but appeared not to be related as both her back legs and back half were partial paralyzed and she seemed to be in a lot of pain. (I saw her lean so far forward, her back legs came off the ground and she was doing a “handstand” on her front paws.) She also groaned more and coughed more.

It took a while, but eventually our vet suspected myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that affects the signal from the nerves to the muscles. The initial higher dose of prednisone seemed to restore some normal walking and even running, much to our delight since she hadn’t ran in months. But she would still showed signs of partial paralysis. As we reduced the dose, the symptoms got much worse until the point where she constantly needed help walking with the sling again. She could only “walk” 3-5 feet at a time. Her back legs were more like crawling. She also wasn’t always finishing her food. [We’re talking about a puppy that could scarf down a heaping cup of food in less than 20 seconds!!!] We increased the dose of pred again and finally saw a little relief after 5-6 days. She had short periods of normalcy.

We were finally able to start the medicine for myasthenia and within 30 minutes, Minnie was completely back to normal! The neighbors were shocked, along with us, by the miraculous recovery. She was on the pills for about 2 months and then she was fine without them. Myasthenia gravis (MG) can spontaneously go away, and Minnie was great for 6 months.

I’m glad we didn’t lose her in one day and had time to do all the things we had planned to do but hadn’t done yet. We painted her nails like we always talked about [but never really, ya know… PLANNED!?!], we casted her front paws in heart shaped concrete filled with gems, we got the family picture with the WHOLE family!

But last week we learned MG can spontaneously reappear. And this time the pills did not work, prednisone didn’t work. She was vomiting every day. And each day her coughing, gagging, and choking got worse, and eventually she had a very difficult time just breathing. She had developed megaesophagus and pnuemonia.

So this morning, after the vet put the IV in her arm and brought her back to the exam room, she had her labored breathing. But after I pick her up and held her in my lap loving her, a calm sense of peace came over her… and me. She was breathing fine. The vet gave the injection and she slowly slipped away as I kissed her and told her how much I loved her. We all love her so much!


If You Want To Be Rich…

… volunteer! Volunteer to coach soccer, corral ten 7 year olds on a field and get them to work together.

Volunteer to teach a subject to kids. Chess for instance. You can always learn more by teaching, you learn what you didn’t learn the first time! And don’t just teach kids a subject, teach them how to learn.

Volunteer at Hospice, helping those who are dying and their loved ones can be the greatest gift of your time. Your reward will be eternal! And you will be forever happy! I am so happy and I am so rich!

The “Original” Serenity Prayer

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.