Sammi died January 1st, 2018, not really my ideal way to start the year. She was ready, it had to be done, there was no turning around, no fixing her. I have come to terms with this. I cried for days, off and on at the slightest hint of her memory, but I still had my Tex Mex to worry about. He was the sole recipient of our love and attention now, thank god he was still here!
But, my sweet 16 year old Tex wandered aimlessly around the house for days, weeks, looking for her. It was worse at night. He didn’t know, he wasn’t there when she died, we had no way of telling him where his angel sister was and why she wasn’t home with us anymore. He’d ask to go outside, and look all over the yard at all hours of the night for her. Peering around the corners, he’d start to come back in, and then he’d go back out into the yard and check again. She was gone and nowhere to be found.
The fact that he couldn’t get up anymore from a laying down position did not help. This meant that several times throughout the night, he’d whine or pant heavily, usually out of discomfort or anxiety, which would wake us up from the deepest of sleeps. One of us would get out of bed, help him up, and he’d proceed to wander around, get a drink of water, he’d search the house, he’d pace around, and he’d settle back down again, only to repeat this process. We’d help him up, let him out, bring him back in, and we’d hope to sleep for a couple more hours without interruption.
He was mourning the loss of his sister who had been in his life for the last 9.5 years. They had spent literally every single day together, except for the nights they each had their surgeries last Fall. It got to the point where we didn’t want to leave him home alone, because we knew that once he laid down, he’d be stuck there til we got back. This happened literally the day Sammi died. It was as if all of a sudden, he just didn’t have the strength anymore. He poured all of his last efforts into being strong for her. My little alpha boy. When we realized he was stuck every time he laid down, we started taking him everywhere with us, unless we knew we’d only be gone for a short period of time.
We had a trip to Miami planned for a friend’s birthday. Instead of leaving him in Jacksonville with a friend watching after him, we took him with us and he spent the weekend with us, and with his grandma (Dave’s mom).
The following weekend, we had another trip planned for Miami, this time for Dave’s little cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. Something we couldn’t skip out on, something the entire family would be at. We brought Texie with us again. This time we had rented a house to be near the venue, thinking we could just leave him there while we were gone, and we were so wrong. Dave set up a video camera so we could check on him, and instead of finding him resting peacefully, calmly, he was instead howling and crying, sheer suffering and panic. It was one of the most gut-wrenching things ever for me to see and hear, and we turned around immediately and put him in the car with us. I was hysterical just at the thought of him going through whatever anguish he was feeling. He simply couldn’t stand being alone in a strange place without us, or without his sister. During dinner, during the Bat Mitzvah itself, and then during the whole reception/party afterwards, Tex Mex was in the car with the car turned on and AC running during the day, and windows open in the 60* evenings. We’d go out and check on him every hour or so, give him some water, let him out, walk him around, spend some time with him, and then go back inside. I was tired, but I would do anything for him.
It was also right around this time that Tex got to meet the puppy.
Hudson is our cousin Samantha’s puppy. In this picture, he was maybe 3 months old. (mid January) Tex perked up when he met sweet little Hudson, and it’s like a little fire rekindled again in his heart. Something finally distracted him from Sammi’s being gone, and while Hudson crawled all over him and stole his toys and Tex would get all grumbly in the process, he still adored him being around.
We were fortunate enough to have Hudson stay with us for a few days, and he’d come over for visits here and there, as well. The last time Tex saw Hudson was January 27th, and they were just sweet little buddies.
By this time, Texie’s mobility had taken a steep decline and I bought a bunch of traction rugs to help him with his paths around the house. He’d stick to the rugs mostly, and he did alright with them. He was actually sleeping better throughout the nights, too, especially after being worn out on Hudson days. I was giving him melatonin to help him sleep, and also gabapentin to help whatever pain he may have been in, but after awhile, I started wondering if the gabapentin was contributing to his poor mobility in the mornings. He’d be wobbly and woozy, could barely stand, he’d fall over, and his back legs would splay out if we weren’t right behind him to catch him in time. Because of this, I took him off the gabapentin after a week-ish of being on it. I just didn’t want to keep him drugged.
The back legs thing worsened. I’d literally have to hold him up by his rear butt fluff to keep him standing and walking properly. Because we took him to work every day with us, this wasn’t too much of a problem because we’d go out on our regular schedule, he’d be able to stand and walk around long enough to do his business, and then we’d go back inside very carefully and he’d find a spot and lay down and snooze. Thankfully he was comfortable and resting during the days.
On January 30th, he had a particularly rough day. We toyed around with the idea of getting a cart or wagon for him, and I was like, fuck it. I don’t care if we only use it one time, it’ll be worth it.
He always loved going for walks, but the last walk I had taken him on had caused his little toenails to bleed, because they’d drag after awhile. The night we got the wagon, we put it together, and even though it was late at night, we took him anyway. We had it all padded up with his bed and towel, and away we went.
When we got home from our walk, I picked him up out of the wagon, and set him down in the driveway. Instead of walking inside, my stubborn man turned around and headed down the driveway on his own, right for the neighbors’ grass across the street. It was the house that I’d always pull him away from, because he’d always want to smell the entire yard as we walked by. We let him this time. With my holding and helping him walk, he made it all the way to the stop sign on his own. He loved every second of it! I finally picked him up and carried him back to the house, and we went inside.
This night was a particularly rough night for Tex and me. He woke me up several times, and at this point. I had been doing a little maneuver that I coined the old flip and roll. In which, I’d flatten him out on his side, and then rotate him 180 degrees to get him laying on his other side. I figured if his hips or elbows were bugging him, this would alleviate the pressure. We flipped and rolled quite a few times that night, and I remember crawling back in bed and telling Dave I can’t do this anymore. We can’t keep doing this. He’s absolutely miserable. I don’t think Dave realized how serious it was until the next morning, but I had a feeling that this was our last night with our little man.
I had been texting with our vet, Dr Tim Holloway, to make sure he was going to be around. On January 31st, Texie had taken a big turn for the worse and nothing made him smile or made him happy. The thing that really solidified it for me was his not wanting to eat his fucking homecooked meals that were really ridiculously delicious. But he wanted water. He was so thirsty! He had been so thirsty all month, especially at night, and I had no idea why. But whatever, if he wants water, let him have more water.
I walked him outside a few times, and he only peed a little. Nothing made him happy. Even letting him lay outside in the cool temps, one of his most favorite things, didn’t spark any interest or joy from him.
I started making arrangements with our vet, and we proceeded to spend every waking moment with him. We carried him inside, cuddled with him, cried endlessly, rubbed his ears, gave him water, flipped him around, helped him stand up and reposition himself, and he even had a special visit from his Uncle Ivan.
We took him to Dr Holloway around 5p on January 31st. He couldn’t stand up on his own anymore, he still wanted water. He was telling us that he was ready to be let go. I had asked him over and over to let me know when he was ready, and he did.
Up until this point in this post, I have written everything without crying. Most days, I am so numb, I just go through the motions of what I need to do, and that’s it. I just don’t give a shit about anything. But the smallest thing will trigger me, and I am inconsolable. It’s at this point where I can’t help but be completely flooded with emotion.
I laid on the floor with Tex, staring into his eyes and rubbing his face as we said goodbye. Dave sat on his other side and we both bawled our eyes out. It was so different than it was with Sammi. I was equally hysterical, equally ripped apart with sadness and grief. They were such different beings, personalities, but their endings were both so, concrete. Definitive. There was no turning back, or stopping the process. Our pups were gone and nothing could stop the waves of emotions we were both experiencing.
For me, I was saying goodbye to my baby boy. The little man that I rescued over 15 years ago from Broward Animal Control. This little boy that healed and turned into the best dog ever. So sweet and loving. A complete terror at times, but an absolute Momma’s Boy. I don’t think most people know the history that Tex and I have shared, and to many, it’s just a pet who has died, and whatever, we’re sad, and we move on.
To keep it brief, I saved his life in 2002. He had been brought in as a stray, and was most certainly going to be put down very soon. He was covered head to toe in demodectic mange, and my thoughts were, he just needs a bath and some antibiotics. Within 2-3 months, he was completely healed. You would’ve never known the torment he went through during the first stages of his life if I hadn’t told you. Raw, bleeding, open wounds. I happened to go to Broward Animal Control that day to just play with the puppies. And he was there. Crying. Crying likely on the same level as the crying we had heard him doing on camera when we left him alone in the rental house for fifteen minutes. And when I would pet him through the chain-link fencing, he’d stop crying. How could I leave him there? After that point, I made every effort to go back and rescue him, and I did.
He had been through everything with me. Dad’s death, my breakup with my ex, my move from our house to my condo, then from my condo to my house, and then our new life with Dave. The beginning of the business, the successes we began to have, then of course when we rescued Sammi. Ha, the day he became not an only dog! He was excited about it until he realized she wasn’t leaving. Oh man, they loved each other though. I am so glad we got to take them to Asheville, that they both got to experience snow. Ultimately, they both got to experience life and freedom and an amazingly loving home.
I want to stop writing but I have more to say. I don’t want to drag it out into another post. I kind of want this to be my closure, but I don’t know that that will necessarily happen once I publish this. The house will still be eerily quiet. We will still just be going through the motions of our lives, get up, make coffee, work, make more coffee, do more work, go to the gym, and then home.
A piece of me as been ripped away. I honestly absolutely HATE the sad faces and sympathy that people offer. I know it’s what we do as a society, but it feels like nobody really, truly gets it. This is my own pain, my own loss that I have to deal with. I don’t want to cry in front of others. I don’t want to feel these things. Yes, I know he was loved, I know they had amazing lives. I know they loved us more than anything. I know we gave them amazing homes and opportunities at life, blah blah blah. I fucking know all that. I also know that everyone says this stuff because we don’t know what else to do. Our society of sympathy and prayers and sad faces.
I am not upset with our decisions to let them go. They were decisions we had to make and were in their best interest. Sammi wasn’t getting better. Tex wasn’t getting better. There was no selfless reason to let them keep on living and suffering. It didn’t make sense for us to prolong their lives beyond the points they were both at. I am not upset with this. It was their time, and they both let us know they were ready.
I am upset that I will never see them again. And this is where I break down all over again. I will never see my dogs again. The two beings that were my children have been torn away so quickly from us. I will never hear them dreaming again, or barking. I’ll never hear their footsteps at night on the tile, or the sounds of them eating or drinking. I’ll never see the joy on their faces again when I bring home new squeaky toys. It’s this stuff that tears me apart. There won’t be any more dog hair to mess up our clothes. The dog hair that I sweep up now will be the last dog hair that ever came off of them in this house. I’m afraid to clean my car, or sweep from under the furniture, or wash too many blankets, because every time I do this, little pieces of them are disappearing more and more. Pieces that I can’t ever replenish or get back.
I feel like a broken human. And if you read to this point, omg I’m sorry. I know we’ll be okay. I know it’ll get better with time. I know we’ll eventually adopt new dogs and save new lives and love them just as much. They’ll bring us joy and laughter, and I’m sure they’ll destroy stuff and we’ll take pictures and do all sorts of fun things with them. I know this is in our future. It just really sucks right now. Thanks for being patient with me, thanks for giving me my space. Thanks for allowing me to write, and feel, and express all of this.