Karma the Dog came into our lives in the summer of 2003. Prior to our adopting her, she was a puppy that was purchased by a family that just didn’t know what to do with her. Their solution? Lock the puppy in a closet and yell at it.
We don’t have the full details, but when we rescued her she was timid and very afraid of confined spaces… a phobia she still has today. (There’s a reason we have never boarded her.)
That was almost thirteen years ago.
Now, our “baby puppy” (as we commonly refer to her) is “the old lady”. Back in September, we were dealt a heavy blow when she was diagnosed with a heart condition . Our long walks on the beach turned into short walks – extended to tours by the ocean in a stroller we bought her.
She was older, slower, and more tired… but she was/is still our “fur baby”.
Since I work from home, she makes it a point to antagonize me when she gets bored. Today, though, I noticed a lack of harassment from my fuzzy office mate. Around 2:30 PM, I went to find her and saw her sitting in the living room.
“Come here,” I told her.
She looked at me with her big brown eyes with the sort of expression she has when she has done something wrong. She didn’t budge.
I began to wonder if she’d had an accidental indoor bathroom break or if she’d thrown up from drinking her water too fast. Both are fine at her age, but years of training of what’s “good” and “bad’ don’t instantly go away.
“Come here, girl,” I said to her again…
And then I saw her try to move.
She started dragging herself with her front paws to come to me – because her back paws wouldn’t move. I immediately picked her up and, staying calm so she would stay calm, I started moving her back legs with my hands to see if she reacted or showed any sign of pain. Neither leg seemed broken. She didn’t yelp. She just looked at me with big brown eyes – obviously just as scared and confused.
I immediately called Shannon and told her to pick me up so we can take her to the vet. I didn’t want to not hold her – and driving her solo in the Mustang meant she would keep moving around in the passenger seat. I had no idea what was wrong, and I didn’t want her to make it worse.
Our local vet/her regular doctor is closed on Thursdays. Thus we called the emergency referral number on their voicemail and drove south thirty minutes to a 24 hour vet.
They were awesome, patient, and wonderful with Karma. To quote to the one doctor: “It’s okay to be so concerned. With the nature of our business, we don’t exactly get folks that DON’T love their pets – you know?”
If you’re in the Treasure Coast area of Florida, definitely check them out: animalemergency.net
We’ve spent over four hours there having specialists look over Karma and verbalize something we already knew but were dreading. Age has caught up with her and Karma’s health is continuing to deteriorate. It’s not just one thing, either. She has liver issues (which she is already on medication for). She has a heart condition (which she is also on medication for). Both of her back knees have given out. There is another (still unidentified) issue that causes her stomach to be distended which could be a specific disease or even diabetes. She has either a blood clot of a slipped disk in her spine. Her vision is going due to cataracts; these have gotten worse over the past couple of months as we’ve noticed her walking more and more into walls, etc.
Shannon and I are now standing at the crossroads that every pet
owner parent knows is coming, but no amount of forethought and expectation can prepare you for: Karma will not be with us for much longer.
She is going to see her vet tomorrow to discuss our options. While a number of the issues are theoretically manageable, spinal surgery on a thirteen year old dog with a heart condition is not a viable situation.
For now the plan is to love her, keep her comfortable, and take her in very regularly to monitor her pain levels. The moment we see that her discomfort has turned to agony, we will plan our good-bye.
I want to say good-bye. I don’t want her to leave without one final reminder of how much she is loved.
Not much else to say at this point and, quite honestly, even proofreading this has me in tears.
More as it merits.