Today, this evening, marks the first day of the rest of my life when Santana will never again jump down with his jingles clinking and happily traipse over to see me when I walk in the door from my run. Last night marked the first night he did not sleep curled into me in my bed not because he was away at the doggie spa or visiting the vet but because he's gone off this earth forever. I want to sob uncontrollably and I cried so hard tonight on the way home from the gym I had to slow down a little bit to regain control of myself.
Today, I felt listless and sad. I knew this today would happen eventually but I did not expect it to turn out to be today. When I imagined all the scenarios that could have ended my sweet Peepers life the one that played out the past five days was not in that showcase of scenes I ever considered. I feel so responsible for how his little sweet life came to an end and I have to stop being so hard on myself, it just is what it is, but still...
Yesterday, our vet called back and told us Santana was not getting better but worse in fact. There are a lot of facts in there that I cannot even begin to retell. Bruising and pain and other words I cannot even recall but those words added up to holes in his intestines and/or stomach, crying in the cage at the vet's office. Later I read the vet's notes, they blew out the veins on all four of his legs and finally got the IV into a vein on the inside of his hind leg. I felt like we just needed to go to the vet's office to say good-bye. K wanted to try more so we gave them permission to send the order to an emergency vet in Indy. I wanted to go and K wanted to go so we felt like we could not find care for the kids fast enough and they came with us. They brought Santana to the car in the green blanket I bundled him up in the morning when I brought him to the vet and we hung his IV bag up and off we went.
Santana did not make one noise the whole way. He never cried, he never whined. Simply put he settled his head as always on the crook of my arm and he seemed so relaxed and calm. We like to think he was. He was with all of us. The kids chattering happily in the background, K scratching his ears now and again and I basically never too my hands off him rubbing his backside, the soft spots that I loved around his ears and his top of his head. He was lucid for the entire trip, sleeping off and on, but he perked up every time we gently said his name or when I would whisper how much I love him.
We arrived at the EM vet clinic in Indy. The intake person came out to get him and whisked him away to the back. We filled out paper work and waited. I am not even sure how long we waited, minutes? Probably 30 minutes all told... The vet came out. She was flushed and talking quickly but kindly. She said we have minutes to decide what to do. He was indeed septic, the fluids from his stomach and intestines were leaking into the rest of his body and essentially killing him. He had an abscess under the area where he had the surgery. His entire body was bruising rapidly. She said he crashed once already and they revived him. She said IF she could stabilize him, which she felt was going to be very difficult, she would need to get a surgeon in ASAP to fix the holes inside of him which would grant us a possible 50-50 chance of survival at the cost of $4k. The money was not an issue, the 50-50 chance was. She said it again you have minutes to decide he is shutting down and he can no longer handle the stress. I looked into K's red rimmed eyes and we knew. We hustled in back to see Santana.
To see an EM vet back area is to understand what the end of some pet's lives are like except this was my pet, my beloved Santana Banana Beans, my baby pup. Seriously the love of my life when it comes to pets. I think I turned off any emotions at that point. I had M Bug and K had Missy. Missy was sobbing and M Bug was terrified. I tried to get M Bug to say good-bye but he was not going to do it and I was not going to force it. K said "oh oh look at him look at him." I firmly told them 'NO I will not look at this part of him (the bruised bloated stomach and backside), I will focus on his head, his face, his big brown eyes and I will remember him the way I knew him before all of this happened.'
Santana was literally screaming and sobbing in pain laying on the table. I marched up to his head and laid my hand on his head and leaned in. I whispered to him like I had so many times over the past few weeks and said to him "I love you little peeps I love you". And he stopped crying. He just listened to me. I told him again that he was going to be okay, that he would feel better very soon, that he could go, that he needed to go see Grandma and Granny and take care of them, to run free. I told him that Ashley said good-bye and than I said good-bye. I said I will not leave you the whole way out, I rubbed his head and kissed his cheeks and watched as the EM vet put the first shot into the IV tube. His whole body stopped convulsing, he relaxed into the medicine. I learned today the first shot is the one that calms them put them to sleep, the 2nd shot is the one that ends their lives. I watched as Dr. Browne put the second dose in the IV tube and I rubbed his head and said over and over again I love you Santana I love you.
I turned away from him when she said it is done and I ran to the kids. M Bug was holding Missy and I said okay guys let's go out here (to the waiting from). The vet tech and vet said we can get him all prepared and bring him into a room so they can say good-bye and maybe have a good last memory of him. I said that would be great. I could be wrong but the vet tech was a young girl and she looked she was crying... I know I felt an intensity, like a Momma bear, in there for the kids and Santana.
K took M Bug and I took Missy. Missy was screaming and crying and telling me 'I want HIM back I wanted Santana back please please bring him back Mommy'. We talked about heaven and God and seeing Grandma and that he was calmer and happier where he went. M Bug was just in shock. He just sat and stared at the TV and every now and again looking at us once in a while stating to me or K that 'he cannot be dead can he?'
They brought Santana to regular room and he was in a little basket with a blanket wrapped around him and it was just Santana. His little ears were perked forward and he looked like he was asleep. M Bug did not want to go in and say good-bye. So I said to him let's just walk out of this room and say bye to him like we would if we were leaving for school or to Target. M Bug did this and I think that was okay for him.
Missy cried and kissed his head and hugged him and told him she loved him. I went in by myself and rubbed his soft little ears one last time and told him he would be okay now, no more pain, just openness, free range, a yellow green ball and lots of happy times filled with treats and love ahead. It looked like Santana but the life was gone... that was hard.
I will never forget any of these moments for good or bad. K and I have been talking off and on the past day or so. We feel at fault. We should have put more sun screen on him. Insisted he stay in on hot sunny days, his favorite. We should have been more insistent with the damned vets we took him to who did not see or know or ignored the scabs on his back. We feel like the buck stopped with us and we feel like we let Santana down in that regard.
The EM vet told me that she would not have done anything different if Santana were her dog. She said the cancer was likely so deep that there was nothing anyone could have done. She told me that with or without the surgery on Thursday his death would have occurred in a similar painful fashion in the coming weeks. She was kind. She might have been lying, she looked me right in the eyes however. She never took her eyes off of me when she said this. If she was lying, she is a good liar.
Now I feel like I am trying to pick up the pieces. It seems so quiet in our home. Lucy is still here and she is the sweetest kindest pup I know. We need to keep going and I know many people might read this and say "oh my it's just a dog" but I love this dog. He was a part of our family. He was like one of our kids. He was not JUST a dog. K reminded me that we had more years than we deserved with him. Santana beat the odds and survived Parvo nearly ten years ago so we were so blessed to have that crazy sweet dog in our lives all this time.
M Bug has been the scarier of the two kids in terms of dealing with Santana's death. He is quiet and barely says a word. I did a ton of research and it seems this is fairly normal stuff. His teacher, whom I love, had writing projects today and M Bug got to write about Santana today. Missy and K drew pictures of the dogs, their paws and wrote out all of our names. I am a big fan of art therapy to work things out for kids. I know both kids need time and love so we are doling out hugs and kisses as often as we can and we allow a lot of time to talk about a lot of things related and unrelated to Santana.
We are not sure about Lucy. Apparently we humans and our big egos like to put our emotions on our dogs. She just seems a little unsure. I had a feeling that would be the case. She followed Santana a lot. He dictated what they did, how they ate and where she sat/slept. They definitely loved each other. I think in the whole pack thing Santana was in charge. She's feeling her way around. She is a smidgen tentative about eating or going out. She jumps every time she hears his collar jingles and we've caught her sniffing things that were his. We are not going to make any sweeping changes and I am know she will adjust with time.
M Bug went through all of things Santana left behind tonight. The list was cute and sweet with things like his hair and poop (in the yard), his paw prints (they made paw print imprints for us after he passed away), his collar and jingles, his baby teeth (oh yeah and be quiet, he was my first baby I told you!) but for me it is more than that. He left behind a slew of amazing memories. My heart aches for him, my head hurts and I feel worn out but every time I get sad I think of something silly or funny or maddening he did and I remember the nearly unconditional love he offered. He knew my secrets and deepest thoughts. I loved that dog like you cannot believe. He may be gone off this earth but he will always be in my (our) heart, never ever forgotten. Play on peeps.