Saturday, January 22, 2011


Veronica is coming to the end of her life. I am not going to catalogue the myriad symptoms - it's too depressing and sad, and a majority of my small group of readers have gone through the process before and know them all by heart anyway. Disinterest in food, etc. etc.

We took her to the vet last Friday - a week and a day ago - and she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The vet gave us some pills to alleviate the fluid collecting around her heart, and she responded remarkably well. She is mobile, she is drinking water and using the litter box on her own; she appears content and apparently pain-free, she is no longer having trouble breathing thanks to the pills, and she is living. She enjoys being petted and still meets us at the door after work.

But she is not eating. It takes us multiple efforts every day to get a few teaspoons of food into her. She has lost a lot of weight. She spends almost all her hours - seemingly contentedly - on the heating grate in the dining room, her favourite spot. We've put water and a low litter box within a few steps of it. She's accessing both.

We are in a terrible gray zone - those of you who have walked to the end of life with pets understand this - of knowing when to make that phone call. We - we have never dealt with this before, personally. We had pets when I was a kid, but they all seemed to quietly die of old age in the middle of the night. Or they quietly disappeared and that was that. These are our first pets as adults, the first ones we have to take responsibility for at end of life.

We've talked about it endlessly for the past week. We are both in agreement that the moment she seems unhappy, or in discomfort, or distress, or in pain, we will end this. We are being extraordinarily kind to each other, and to Mojo, who is confused and worried as routines are broken. We are all in the terrible process of losing someone we love.




Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

That gray zone is ... awful. My little Alpo was my own first experience of it and, God, it's hard. I can tell that you'll handle it beautifully because you've got the right criteria for the decision. Life is still a happy thing for her. You'll know when that changes.

And when things play out the best way they can, it still hurts. Thinking of all of you.

11:08 p.m.  
Blogger Rob Wynne said...


I definitely feel your pain. We lost our Jenna in October.

I will be thinking of you.

1:13 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

I am so sorry, ronnie. There are all sorts of platitudes for this time, and all of them are meant well, but none of them do any good, do they?

If my experience holds for you, Veronica will tell you when it's time to say good-bye.

It hurts a lot, and you know I sympathize.

3:39 a.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

Been there. Too often. It is cruel that their lives are so much shorter than ours. And you are, indeed, in the worst situation, where you have to be clear on what steps you are taking for her and what steps you are taking for yourself, and try like hell to avoid confusing the latter with the former.

Nothing I can help you with there, but here's what I have done with Nellie, and again with Destry, when we got to this point: I told the vet that I wanted to have everything paid for, set up and ready, so that, when the moment came, I could call and there would be no paperwork left to do, nothing requiring me to handle anything more than the moment. I didn't want to sit in the waiting room. I didn't want to hang around afterward.

When the time came, I was able to go straight from the car to a treatment room, and then back to the car again.

I'm not saying I was able to drive off right away, but it made a very great difference to be able to focus on the task, which is one of love.

It is a great privilege to have a creature put herself so much in your hands, with such love and trust. Treasure the gift.

8:23 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Thank you all for your very kind words. They were a great comfort to us while we walked that tightrope of knowing when to end it. Having your wisdom and experience to draw on - particularly drawing on times you had individually blogged or written about going through the process - were incredibly helpful since this was the first time we'd taken this responsibility and we were heartsick and scared. We drew a lot on things you'd taught us, even if without meaning to.

We felt that we weren't as impossibly alone as we seemed to be. It helped, it really did.

7:57 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

PS Mike, your suggestion is excellent, and we have discussed it and this is how we'll handle it in future. It just snuck up on us this time.

I was really struck by your reference to having an animal put so much *trust* in you. That is what makes the burden so heavy, but it's what gets you through carrying out what must be done, no? She trusts you to do the right thing for her, even unto the end - how could you possibly let her down?

7:59 p.m.  
Anonymous said...

i like your blogs..
thanks for sharing..
God Bless..
Hope more post to come..

i like your blogs..
thanks for sharing..
God Bless..
Hope more post to come..

10:17 p.m.  

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