October 19th 2008 12:02 am
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Ebony died on October 7th, 2008. He'd had a shitty year dealing with cancer, some of which was on his spleen, which more than likely ruptured.
Our first indication that something was wrong with Ebony was probably in late 06/early 07. My sister and a friend were conversing in the kitchen where I was sitting and Ebony just stood in the middle of the room and peed without warning, seeming disoriented, like he didn't know what was going on. We were all shocked, because he'd never done this before, but we basically laughed it off since it was so strange. Shortly after, he started having seizures. They were mild but they still freaked us out because no one wants to see their dog go through that. He'd stare off into space, become disoriented and lose his footing. Still, they happened very infrequently, so there was no point in putting him on medication for it.
In fall of this year, he had a particularly odd episode where he was pacing, vomiting, disoriented, and refused to sit or lay down.. he acted like it was painful for him, or he basically just couldn't relax. We figured it was another seizure that had come and gone, but six days later, the performance repeated itself, plus he was circling, trembling constantly, and breathing heavily. He skipped a meal. He was drinking and peeing more. He'd had two accidents (urination) in the house. I suspected renal failure.
So, we took him to the vet and ran tests on him, as well as x-rays. In the waiting room, he just stared at the wall and shivered, despite two other labs and a GSP in his company. The vet said he had a very high fever and would give him a shot to bring it down.
The bloodwork came back fine, much to my surprise, except for a high white cell count, for which we were sent home with antibiotics. The x-rays, though, revealed a mass on Ebony's spleen. Dr. Poinsett talked to us about doing an exploratory surgery to see what else he could find, but we said we'd get back to him in the next couple days.
We decided against the exploratory. Based on Ebony's symptoms, Poinsett said the mass was probably cancerous and had more than likely spread, and that by the time these symptoms show up, it's usually too late to do anything about it (which sucks). My mother didn't feel comfortable putting him through surgery, and we decided we'd just enjoy the time we had left with him.
After the visit, he was put on the antibiotics and some rimadyl and he was doing good. Then in April, he started getting sick again. He was very lethargic and having accidents in the house. He would hesitate to drink water, and when he did, it was only a few laps before he seemed to deem it not worth the discomfort. For a week, he would only take a few bites of his food before walking away, and a few times he wouldn't even attempt it. He would look at the food with total disinterest and walk away to lay down.
Things were looking grim, and my mother and I decided to take the dogs to the beach over the weekend, so Ebony could enjoy one last romp at one of his favorite places in the world. His spirits picked up, despite not so much as glancing at the ocean (a great love of his. I guess he realized he was too weak to attempt a swim.), and had fun running around with Kolada and looking for clam shells. My mother and I walked the two along the shoreline for a good while, and he seemed to be in heaven.
After that, he seemed to get better. One night, my mother made steak and in a desperate attempt to get Ebony to eat something, offered him some. He gobbled it right up. He also never turned down a treat (even at his worst), and eventually started eating dinner again. Before we knew it, he was returning to his old self.
Toward the end of summer, I had to take Ebony out during the day, every day, because he constantly had diarrhea (under normal circumstances, it was my mother's responsibility to take Ebony out, mine to take Kolada out, and Shelby, my sister's.). Cleaning diarrhea had become a daily occurance-- though never inside. he'd pooped once or twice inside but thankfully, they were always healthy and dry. Still, aside from having the shits, he seemed fine. He seemed happy.
Then, on the morning of October 7th, Ebony wouldn't get up. He wouldn't move. My mother's morning routine entailed getting up at 6 AM to a bouncy Labrador who was anxious to go out and do his business. But this morning, he stared at her and lay there, wagging his tail apologetically, like he wanted to get up but simply couldn't. She didn’t know what to do but my sister and I told her to go to work, and that we would stay with him and make sure he was fine. I went back to sleep and awoke a few hours later, and Ebony was laying at the top of the stairs, whining. We tried to encourage him down the stairs but he couldn’t do it. He’d try to stand and then collapse.
During this time, I was calling my mother at work to give her updates and telling her it didn’t look good. My poor mother was always very attached to this dog so she was trying hard to keep him alive, telling us to try to give him aspirin for pain... not really facing reality. I went hiking with Kolada, and when I came back, my sister said that she had tried giving Ebony treats and he wouldn’t take them. Even at his worst, Ebony had never refused a treat.
At around noon, I heard him get up and go down the stairs so I followed him. He walked over to the back door so I took him out. He pooped right away, making these moaning, pushing sounds that told me he was clearly in pain. And when he peed, he sat down in the middle of it.. I guess because he was too weak or too out of it. He seemed confused, he was stumbling all over the yard. His gums were pale, he was seemingly too weak to stand .. it sounded like a spleen rupture.When we went to go back in, he just stood there outside, like he wanted to stay. He may have wanted to lay in the sun, given his history of sun worshipping, but the phone was ringing so I urged him inside.
It was my mother calling, and I told her to make the appointment for him. I didn't want him to bleed out and die a slow, painful death. She made an appt for right away and rushed home from work. My brother, sister and I all gave him goodbye kisses while waiting for her. He just laid there on the floor, and as out of it as he was, he still wagged his tail for every kiss. We had to help him into the car, where I sat in the back with him, falling apart already.
When we got to the vet, he collapsed in the waiting room and couldn’t get up. As we stood there at the desk, the Bryan Adams song, "Heaven" came on and we all started breaking down and eventually laughed at the incredibly bad timing. The tech had to help us assist him into the room, picking up his back end, because he wouldn’t move.
Once in the room, he collapsed again. He also farted, which made us all laugh. My mother and sister joined him on the floor, and being the happy boy he was, he even wagged his tail as the tech shaved his leg to inject him. We all gave him one last kiss when it was over and as we were walking out, my sister turned around and said, "I just have to smell his feet one last time and kiss them" and the vet and tech laughed and understood, saying "frito feet!"
I think I cried more before his death than after. The anticipation kills. That last hour before my mom came home from work, I was a sobbing mess, and drank three glasses of water in rapid succession as I stood in the kitchen, anxiously waiting for her to arrive home so we could get it over with, all the while dreading it at the same time. Knowing that these are the last few moments you have left with your dog is so heart-wrenching, and I hope I don't have to go through it again for a long time.
That night, feeding time was hard. That was the point where I broke down. I had to reduce the three bowls to two, and divide up the meat that would have been his that night between Kolada & Shelb. Then, while putting the bowls down, did my routine of "Kolada, sit. Wait. Okay." and went straight to Shelby next, instead of Kolada-to-Ebony-to Shelby, which was surreal. The next day, I teared up during my hike with Kolada, while listening to Sia on my I-Pod. But otherwise, it hasn't been a sobfest after-the-fact. I think I'm in a good place about it.
The animals have been coping differently. While Kolada hasn't seemed to grieve at all, aside from sitting in front of me randomly and staring for minutes at a time, Shelby has been taking it hard. She and Ebony had a close relationship where she'd taken on a kind of mothering role. After his death, she insisted on going out several more times than usual, as if looking for him outside. She also played with his toys and slept in his old spots shortly after. She still stares at me for no conceivable reason, but I don't know how to give her answers. For the first time, she looks old to me. I guess if dogs can be depressed, this is what it looks like.
As for the cats.. Coco Chanel and Honey Child spent Ebony's last day laying with him on the floor in my mother's room. However, their behavior hasn't seemed to change at all. Kit, the nasty, evil cat, is a different story, interestingly enough. She and Ebony would sleep on my mother's bed at night, after the other two cats had retreated to my sister's room. Kit would sleep beside my mother, while Ebony would sleep at the foot of the bed. But after Ebony died, Kit started sleeping at the foot of the bed. This is very strange to anyone who knows Kit. They didn't seem to have much of a relationship at all, aside from sleeping on the same bed, and Ebony seemed to be afraid of Kit (rightfully so) all his life. And, although my mother claims Kit has become more affectionate in her senior years (i've seen no evidence of this), I'm pretty sure she's never given Ebony the time of day, aside from a rumbling growl if he ever lay too close for her liking. Thus, this change strikes me as very bizarre.
It was hard losing Ebony, but I think we were all in a good place about it. When we came home, we sat around the patio table outside (it was a beautiful day) and recounted all the Ebony memories that made us laugh. He was a lovable dorky dope of a dog and the fact that he wagged his tail up until the very end was so telling of the kind of dog he was. He was a fun guy who loved everyone.
November 1, 1998 - October 7, 2008