Since last May, Cody gradually started to lose mobility in his hind legs. At first he would just need to stop and rest periodically on our usual walks. He would just stop and sit for a few minutes before slowly standing up to continue. By June he needed to stop several times along the way. We just attributed this to normal old age since he was 12 1/2 years old, so we accommodated him by taking shorter walks. However, before the end of July he didn't want to walk at all. I took him to the vet who did a complete blood panel. His blood work came back normal and I breathed a sigh of relief. Our vet suggested Cosequin which I gave him twice daily, but he kept getting worse and worse. The vet gave him a prescription and took another blood panel hoping to find some answers since Cody had also lost 10 pounds (25% of his normal weight) even though he was eating normally. Still no answers. His hind legs got so bad, that now he could only stand for a few minutes before collapsing to the ground -- barely enough time to do his duty - but faithfully he would let us know and we would carry him outside. Back to the vet's. He prescribed steroids as a last resort since some dogs have regained the use of their limbs at least for a limited time. But Cody just got worse with each morning until he couldn't stand at all.
In tears I made our last appointment with the vet. The veterinarian staff were very kind and hugged me as I sobbed. Russell, Cody and I were escorted into a private room where they put Cody up on a table. He shuddered at being up that high, and I held him close. Both Russell and I stroked and petted him, gently telling him what an awesome dog he was and how we loved him very much. I found a jar of treats on a nearby table and gave him one which seemed to help calm his nerves. Our regular vet was in surgery, and the veterinary assistant told us that another doctor we weren't too familiar with would perform the procedure. Through tears I asked if there was any way we could have our vet since he knew Cody best and I trusted him. She said she didn't know, but she'd check. When she left the room, I buried my head in Cody's fur, and prayed for my vet to come in. Minutes later I heard a soft knock at the door, and it was him -- answered prayer!! He assured me Cody would feel no pain, and I knew he meant it. The normal procedure is for just one injection which is really an overdose of an anesthetic which stops the heart. I asked if he could administer a sedative first and he agreed. He said it would take 5 minutes to make Cody sleep. We had that precious time with our dog holding him, hugging him, kissing his face. I did not want to see him actually die, but I didn't want him to be aware of our abscense when the time came. This gave us the opportunity to be with him until he lost consciousness without having to witness his death. I will always be grateful to the vet and his staff for their kindness and understanding.
I was surprised at how much losing Cody hurt. I would cry uncontrollably, and be embarrassed by my tears. After all, he was only a dog. It wasn't as if I had lost my husband or my dad. Good grief. What on earth would I do if something happened to them -- and my dad is 89, so the likelihood of him dying before me is pretty high! Then I started thinking of others who had suffered tragedy much greater than mine. How could I carry on so over the loss of a dog when others have lost their child or other loved one through any number of tragic accidents. I suddenly felt selfish in the midst of my grief -- but grieving nevertheless!
I took a long walk -- just me and the Lord -- and we talked. I thanked Him for the precious 12+ years I had with Cody, and I praised Him for creating this special creature just to bring pleasure into my life. Since God created Cody, He had every right to take him back. Russell quoted something to me that he had heard: "No amount of regret can change the past, and no amount of worry can change the future, but even a small amount of thankfulness can change the present". I am holding onto that wisdom in my current situation.
She comforted me in my grief, and assured me it was o.k. to feel this way. She encouraged me to scrapbook photos of Cody to express my feelings. Although I don't do scrapbooking, I thought it made sense to talk about Cody in my blog using photos we've taken during our years with him. It was cathartic for me to do this blog tribute to our Cody. I hope you enjoy it as much as it has helped me to write and post about it! The heartache of losing our little bear is indescribable, and why many people say they will never get another pet. However the joy he gave us all these years was well worth this temporary grief.