It’s something you always know is going to happen, but you’re never ready.
Yesterday, December 12, 2017, we had to say goodbye to our sweet dog Cosmo, after he suddenly collapsed walking to the front door.
I rushed him to this emergency vet, with a deep feeling of dread. Our senior dog, who, despite his many grey hairs, was often mistaken for as a puppy because of his spunk and playfulness – was weak and despondent. As he sat in the front seat, he could barely lift his head to look at me, and had difficulty focusing.
When we reached the vet office, I lifted him carefully out of the car, and placed him on the grass to see if he could even stand – his legs buckled, and he slowly toppled over.
My heart was breaking.
I scooped him up, and walked in to the vet office. I had been there once before, with Dug years ago when he swallowed an avocado pit – and that time, they had handed me a clipboard and asked me to wait. This time, they rushed a technician out right away and whisked Cosmo away.
That could not be good.
Within minutes, I was sent to a small, private room where I answered some basic questions about his recent behavior, and was told he’d be put under a few tests, pending our signing off on them, including bloodwork and x-rays. The veterinarian was then sent in and and she had a friendly, but dark look to her eyes.
It was, more than likely, Hemangiosarcoma.
His spleen had ruptured, and he was sustaining a lot of internal bleeding. His temperature was incredibly low for a canine (~92 degrees) and his heart rate was so low, it was undetectable. He was fading – fading fast. This was something with no warning signs.
The “options” we were presented with included immediate blood transfusion, and rush into surgery – a surgery he had low chances of surviving, given his condition – and even if that went well, depending on how the tumor may have spread, he’d be looking at a short (~3 month) life span, peppered with the possibility of more surgery, and the high chance (~80%) of requiring chemotherapy – that, or assisting him pass, and avoid further suffering.
I was in shock.
He had been a happy, healthy dog for the entire time we’d had him – from the day Dug choose him at an adoption event, to be his brother, through the many life events our family experienced over the past 2.5+ years. He was a loyal, sweet, and affectionate dog. He was always by your side. He never complained, or whined, and would do anything for you. He withstood having his tail and ears pulled, was Abby’s playmate when she read stories, or made a blanket fort with her slide.
He was part of our family.
Tearfully, we made the decision to release him from his pain. I was allowed some private time with him before his procedure, and I cuddled his little body, so weak and unlike his usual self – and told him how special he was. He tried to raise his head to lean into my shoulder, but he couldn’t muster the energy.
When it was time for the injection, I held his paw, and watched him take his last breath. He went in peace, and though I knew it was the right thing to do – and that there was nothing that we had done to put him in this position – I felt a heavy sorrow that I know will linger for some time.
In the past 20 hours, I’ve worked through a spectrum of emotions. I haven’t “told” Abby where Cosmo went, but I know she senses something. I let Dug sleep in our room last night because I am sure he knows – he became incredibly clingy since I walked back in the door last night.
Although I cannot adequately put into words how I feel right now – I do know this: I am incredibly thankful for a few things: one, that my mom was here to take care of Abby and Dug while I was with Cosmo, and two: that we had the opportunity to spend those precious years with such a special dog. Adopting a senior pet (he was ~8 at the time we adopted him), we knew that this was going to happen eventually, but really, no one is ever really prepared for something like this – especially so suddenly. I only regret that he will never meet his second little sister, because he was the best puppy brother to both Dug and Abby.
This morning, I took Dug on our morning walk, and I had a hard time thinking of how I’d react if neighbors saw just the two of us. I know it hasn’t even been a day, but it’s just hard looking around and not seeing him there.
It’s hard to admit this at this moment, but I am not someone who really “believes” in the concept of heaven and hell for humans, but somehow, all I hope is that Cosmo is in a better place and that I will see him again one day. Until then, he will live forever in my heart.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras