Friday October 16, 2015
My daughter Franklyn is now 3 ½ months old and this is the first post I have written since I was pregnant. And although I have an archive of blog ideas centred around Frankie, this one is not for her. This one is for Taylor.
Taylor is not doing well. After a weekend of several ‘faint-like’ spells and a weird cough-choke that has started, we took her right to the vet. At 15 ½, I braced myself for very bad news. Turns out, Taylor has heart failure. She has water in the lungs and her heart is enlarged. The combination of the two causes her to collapse every time she exerts herself. It started a few months ago, a week after Frankie was born actually. It happened after a long day of walking or extreme heat. But now it’s happening all the time. Today was a particularly bad day. She collapsed just from walking down the hall. Or getting excited about dinnertime (yes, amongst all of this, she is still food crazy- a sure-good sign:). Without exaggeration, she collapsed/fainted approximately 8 times today! And to add to her discomfort and my sorrow, she now loses control of her bladder and bowels when she collapses. And each time it happens, my heart breaks a little.
As optimistic as the vet is, I know the truth. My dog is dying.
Most of you know Taylor, and therefore know she is not your ordinary dog. She truly is something special. I knew it immediately when she showed up on my front lawn back in Tennessee. No collar, no ID and no desire to be anywhere else. She literally found me. My mom had just put her dog down due to illness, so this spunky Jack Russell mix was going to become her new best friend.
And she was. Within minutes of meeting mom, she had her wrapped around her little paw! But the feeling was mutual. Taylor adored my mom. She was right by my mom’s side during her long hard fight with cancer. A Jack Russell at 15, let alone in their prime, is hard to keep calm. But every chemo day, Taylor stayed within cuddle-reach of my mom and joined her for her afternoon naps. She toned it down when mom wasn’t well, and hyped it up when she needed a laugh. Taylor was Mom’s medicine. And while my grandmother sat by and watched her daughter go through these hard times, Taylor made sure to save some cuddle time for her too.
Oh don’t get me wrong; Taylor was still a feisty Jack back in the day. She would chase every living creature that was in sight, big or small. Many, unfortunately, falling victim to her embedded instincts. Mice, rats, squirrels, sparrows, a pigeon (a fancy Spanish pet pigeon, might I add) and I’m sorry to say, even a kitten. However not one, but three skunks did defeat her and her crazy ways (that was fun)!
I have had dogs literally ALL my life. But by far, Taylor is the smartest dog I have ever owned. Even at 3 or 4 years old she learned how to roll over, how to give paw, and even how to count (don’t argue with me, she totally could)! Back in the day, Taylor used to get car sick. But mom taught her how to barf in a bag so she wouldn’t make a mess in the car! She was never good at fetch but we could tell her to go get a certain toy and she would retrieve it every time. The last couple of years, her tricks have changed somewhat. Taylor would beg us to go outside even when she didn’t have to go, because she knew treat time was after a walk. She would want us to take her to the dog park, not to play with other dogs but to scout out the dog owners because they always had treats! Taylor is absolutely food crazy and her relentless begging and whining can get quite annoying. And because she is almost deaf, her consistent barking, especially when Frankie is crying, can totally get the best of me.
But not today.
With Frankie in one arm already, I carried Taylor up and down three flights of stairs three times today. I cleaned up three puddles of pee - one of them happened on the couch. I checked on her periodically throughout the day just to make sure she was still breathing. And I just lay with her during each episode, trying to keep her calm and comfortable. All this is the least I could do.
After all, Taylor has been through it all with me. She has been my constant through the toughest years of my life. She was there when I lost my Dad, both my grandmothers, Frankie, my Mom, Steve’s mom and my three miscarriages. For the last decade and a half, whenever I needed a cuddle (and I’ve needed many) Taylor was right by my side. Taylor was steady by my side when everything else around was falling apart. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Wednesday October 21, 2015
We pushed it as long as we could. The vet was hopeful that once on the heart medication things would turn around. We waited as long as we could. But after watching seizure after seizure and seeing her struggle for each breath so much that her tongue turned blue, we knew we couldn’t put her through this for much longer.
As I sat on the bathroom floor with Taylor at 5 am, comforting her after yet another seizure, I asked her to tell me what I should do. Through her cataract-filled eyes, while her body trembled in pain, she looked at me and her answer was very clear. Steve and I decided right after breakfast we would take her to the vet.
As we were both stalling, Taylor collapsed once again, but this time she stopped breathing. Steve & I held her and watched as we thought for sure this was the end. I even told her to go, to stop fighting and to let go. But being the most stubborn dog I have ever met in my entire life, she started breathing again after what felt like a very long time! Any doubt left in us about what we were about to do immediately vanished. Steve scooped her up and we carried her straight to the vet.
Taylor passed away peacefully. Dr. Mark Kinghorn and the staff at Roncy Vet Clinic were fantastic. They made sure it was quick and painless. While waiting for the vet, we took Taylor across the street to one of her favourite neighbourhood spots. Favourite because people bring their stale bread ends here to feed the birds. And on our walks, when Steve & I would turn our back, Taylor would scare away all the birds and have a feast! Well today, as Taylor sat quietly, feeling the grass beneath her feet and taking in what would be her last few breaths of fresh air, an older Polish lady walked up just a few feet from her and dumped a huge pile of bread. Steve & I looked at each other and smiled, then gave Taylor the nod.
With a mouth full of bread and pigeons pecking all around, Taylor got the farewell she deserved.