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RIP Paw Paw Bear

2003-pawthis photo was taken in 2003...many moons ago, it feels like.

the rest of the photos were taken just since oct 24, 2011...that fateful monday in which everything changed at our house. the day it became real to us that paw paw was fighting a losing battle.

2003-pawnot sure what happened to this photo when it was re-sized for blogging...it's all fuzzy and ucky looking but it's still our paw paw with teenager

2003-pawpaw paw was always so sweet and kind and caring and devoted and loyal and freaking happy!

2003-pawthis was another of those, what the hell moments. many calls with the vet this day. thinking one more time that we have reached the end of his journey on this earth and once again, paw paw proved us wrong and the nickname rebound hound began.

2003-pawdo you see how he must be touching her with both front feet? he had an intense need to be touching us whenever possible.

2003-pawhe's just sleeping here. it was comfortable for him to lay on the bed, with his head hanging off...i think it helped him breathe when he was having a tough time.

2003-pawi'm so glad he was able to eperience snow one last time. he always loved to bury his face in the snow but now it had even more meaning as i am sure the cold felt awesome on his poor forehead and muzzle...where the cancer was concentrated...where he experienced the most discomfort.

2003-pawalways a character, this guy!

2003-pawonce he had oral surgery in june, i put him strictly on a canned food diet...i figured it would be easier for him to eat. once he started the canned food, his need to drink greatly diminished. no one knows why except for the liquid content in the canned food versus dry kibble. but once we tossed the kennel, he decided he really liked to drink water. weird, i know. and many times during the day, you could find him just lying by the water bowl to keep the doolittles away from it. he would actually get up and chase them away! like he felt the bowl would never be refilled again. silly boy.

as you know, he had many rebound days. there were days i had completely given up on him. fearing he would be gone when i got home from running errands. fearing he would be gone when i woke in the morning. fearing he would be gone when just checking on him through out the day.

and he was full of surprises.

i quit second guessing what was happening and allowed innate to do what she had to do.

there were times i went crazy trying to get him to eat. the vet had said to watch his food intake...the first thing to notice when it would be "time" would be that he would not eat.

it got to the point where i would call the lions over to eat in his bowl. paw paw hated the lions! so there would be no sharing of food with them...so he would eat...then have another bowl and another...sometimes up to 4 bowls in one sitting.

then he got to where he didn't fall for that anymore. so i would open his mouth, put in a piece of food and hold his mouth up and closed until he swallowed. then he would a bowl and then another and another all the way up to 4 bowls at one time!

we played these little games for months.

sometimes i really feel he ate more to make me happy than to keep himself alive.

his appetite never diminished.

he ate great for me last saturday night! 4 whole bowls without much prodding.

then saturday night he was very restless in bed. he just couldn't find a comfortable spot.

when we woke sunday morning, i knew there was a problem right away. his entire muzzle was swollen to the point he could hardly open his eyes. he was uncomfortable. we gave him a dose of the heavy duty pain med. it knocked him out for the rest of the day...

he didn't eat on sunday. he didn't drink on sunday. he was miserable on sunday,  until the pain meds kicked in.

we knew what was coming and i spent the better part of my morning in tears.

i really didn't think it would be possible for him to be with us monday morning but he was.

unbelievably, he was.

at 8am, i made the call to the vet to make the appointment for later that day.

i will admit that part of me was hoping he would go peacefully before that appointment time. i wanted him to go on his terms but he was having none of it.

he couldn't open either eye at all and paniced when he heard me enter the bedroom.

kiroman was at the office, teenager and i had a few big cries and then it was time.

whoa...it was time.

we took his blanket and he laid on it in the backseat with teenager right beside him.

i don't know how alert he was but his head was up during this last car ride.

we got there before kiroman so i took paw paw to the little patch of grass in front of the office...to let him sit in it one last time.

then we went in and the process began.

teenager picked out the urn...it's a nice one, with paw prints around it.

we said our goodbyes and teenager went to the car.

kiroman and i stayed with him...we just didn't feel teenager needed to be there at the very end.

paw paw was on the table on his blanket...sleeping. snoring.

dr koppold was off but dr bailey was there and she is awesome too! she helped paw with an eye issue summer 2010. she knew him well... it took most of the summer to take care of the eye. we think he scratched it on a twig.

she felt bad about turning on the clippers but he didn't even hear it.

for all intents and purposes, he was already gone in spirit...his body just refused to follow.

it was all done quickly and peacefully and i fell apart all over again.

dr bailey was awesome. i know it is not an easy part of her job but she was magnificent. and the card she sent afterward was so touching. her words so eloquent and meaningful and showed that she really knew paw paw.

the hardest thing to do monday afternoon was to walk back into the house and not have to check on him in the bedroom. to go to bed that night without him there. without his loud mouth breathing. without him moving from the foot of the bed to my head to between me and kiroman. not having to carry him down the stairs to the front yard to potty. not having to dish up his dinner, clean up after him.

12-15 years is about the average lifespan of corgi's.

paw paw was 13. i know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if it weren't for the osteosarcoma, he would have made it to that 15 year mark with no problem.

cancer sucks.

plain and simple. it sucks.

when paw paw was diagnosed in june, all the literature and information pointed to a very aggressive and relentless disease. 30 days from diagnosis was the prognosis.

but rebound hound made it through the first 30 days like a breeze! nothing really changed a lot.

nothing really changed from june until that weekend of oct 22nd.

the game totally changed then. and it became apparent that hospice care was needed and that is exactly what i did from oct 24 until dec 26.

every minute of every day was filled with his care.

he had some horrible days in there. i had some great scares...like the bleeding from his eye...which happened from time to time.

but we said that as long as his good to great days outnumbered the not so good days...we'd keep doing what we were doing.

and honestly, until christmas day, those good to great days far outnumbered the not so good days.

there were times in the last week of his life that he would run in the yard with the doolittles. he would still bark when the phone rang...cuz i might not hear the phone but i would surely hear him bark, right?

i still have a big, gaping hole in my heart.

i know that the care i gave him and the dedication i showed him is what extended his 30 days to 180 days.

just goes to show you to not buy into the time frames that the powers that be give you.

anyone can be a rebound hound if they are in the right frame of mind with the right care.

this post was hard to write and it took me this whole week to wrap my head around what has happened.

but a friend of mine used a term to me when telling me about the loss of their dog...and i fell in love with it because i feel it carries more dignity and caring than saying "put down" or "put to sleep". i don't want to think of putting a beloved member of my family down and we all know that he isn't sleeping so when she said they had maisy "put to rest" it really resonated with me. i know some of you will say that he is not resting either but i will argue that one with you til the end of time.

someone asked teenager today at the horse show how many dogs we had...we both answered siiii, tehn looked at each other and said five.

that was weird. it's still weird. and i still miss him like crazy. i miss his double coat shedding all over. i miss waking up with his hair on my face. i miss wiping his nose and his eyes. i miss his happy little face taking in every little thing!

on christmas eve, teenager was still sleeping while i was busy baking. all the doolittles were out and running up and down the stairs...i went to check on paw but he wasn't in the bedroom. he wasn't in kiroman's office. he wasn't in the bathroom. i started to panic and then i looked at the stairs. and lo and behold! there he was...passed the landing on the second step below. stuck...not able to go down the rest of the way and not able to go up stairs at all.

so i picked him up and carried him down the rest of the way. he wandered around the basement...over to where his kennel used to be and then to the door that led to the backyard. so out we went.

he went to the grass and did his dooty and then just checked out the yard. and rolled. and scratched his back. and sniffed the grass and trees and rocks. and laid in the sun.

he knew what was coming and wanted to see it one last time.

rip paw paw bear...rip

i am grateful:

  • for the wonderful 13 years we had with paw
  • his good/great days outnumbered the not so good days right up til the end
  • for a wonderful staff at elkhorn animal hospital
  • for kiroman understanding the need to cry myself to sleep every night
  • for kleenex

just breathing isn't living!


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