Chapter 42 – Final Weeks

In the final three weeks, Gabby was slowing down. She did not want to play, rarely wagged her tail and was becoming an even pickier eater. She hovered over her water bowl before drinking.  Instead of staying in the living room with me and Beni, she ran to the bedroom and went under the covers on the floor to sleep.  We went in there with her and she cuddled between my knees on the floor as I watched TV, still looking at me with loving eyes whenever she woke up and looked my way.

She did not seem to be suffering, but her quality of life wasn’t what it was.  I took her to the ER for tests but her bloodwork was normal, and her heart and lungs seemed fine. I guess you can have good medical test results, but not be feeling very well.   For the first time she had two seizures in a two week period. She did have some good days where she was stronger and hungrier, and she still ran down the hall at a good speed so I was not considering euthanasia yet. I thought if I got her eating, got some exercises for her, and put her on the anti-seizure med, she would bounce back. She always had before! 

On Monday the 22nd of June I made an appointment for Thursday the 25th with Dr. Slobody to put her on phenobarbital and get suggestions for exercises and games to build her strength back up. Perhaps when she was feeling better, she would want to play and that would be all she needed to bounce back this time.

On Wednesday the 24th she seemed quite strong in the early morning, and had eaten a big meal with gusto the night before.  We seem to be on the right track, I was looking forward to our vet appointment the next day. But later, when she was cuddled next to me she had a strong seizure.  Afterwards she seemed sore and did not want to move, so I took her to the ER.  No spinal problems detected, vitals ok, it seemed to be a muscle pull so they gave her prednisone.  She fell asleep at the ER. My friend Erik had a dog with severe epilepsy and said sometimes she slept for two whole days before she bounced back. I took her home, spent some time with her and put her in her crate to sleep and went out for the day. She seemed very tired. Darlene saw her later. She said Gabby was walking around in her big crate, but did not want to come out. Darlene did reach in and pet and cuddle her. I am glad she did.

When I got home later, she was weak and seemed out of it. I took her to the ER and a vet examined her, and said he just thought it was her time. Knowing what I did about seizures and sleep, I wanted to give her a chance to sleep it off. I said I wanted to take her home to have a night with me, and the veterinarian did not object. He did not think we should medicate her anymore though, and I know now that was the right decision. It may have extended things unnaturally and made her passing difficult.

I took her home and held her next to me all night. She slept, and every once in a while she would have a little seizure and sometimes a bigger one. When she did wake up and I saw her look at me, I kissed her, petted her, cuddled her and told her she was the best dog in the whole world, and I loved her very much… and to try and sleep it off and we would try and make her better. But I wasn’t praying for a miracle anymore… just that if it is God’s will that she goes, that she go peacefully and I have the strength to get through it.

In the morning as dawn broke, I could see she was not improving. I knew it was time, I gave her a chance, but this was it. I called and made the appointment for her at the ER, but mercifully she passed on her own five minutes after I made the call.

I spoke with Dr. Slobody early that morning and afterwards. He assured me I did the right thing giving her a chance, and he would have done the same thing, as seizures are exhausting and can take a lot of time to get over. He said it was like, “running a marathon.” That, and he knew how resilient she was, and she had always bounced back from everything before. He also reassured me she did not suffer because dogs are unconscious during seizures.

Heartbreaking as it was, I knew in my heart that it was just her time. I would have tried, but I know now that exercises, medicine or food would not have made a difference. She was not bouncing back this time and life was never going to be the same for her.  She had been pretty active just weeks before, but at nearly 18 I knew the end could come at any time. I almost felt like she planned it that way, and perhaps God did. We had an appointment that very day to try and get her where she was before, but she was ready to go and didn’t want to try anymore.

I had seen her entire life pass before my eyes… from the time my mom handed her to me at Keller’s, through years of adventures, love and companionship, until now.

My sweet little girl was gone.