Our dear Oliver "Twist" ( in the purple collar and with the face closeups) died this Friday July 2nd at about 5pm at the age of 13 years and 8 months. He had been sick for about a month and really declining for the past two weeks. We found out he had a mass on his liver about two weeks ago and this had coincided with loss of appetite and vomiting. Since his diagnosis he subsisted on a diet of whatever he could stand to eat -varying from chicken, A/D presciption diet, to bread dipped in broth, to pedialyte, Fris.kies mixed grill cat food and in his last days pizza crust. He eschewed the burgers, turkey and gourmet dog food we offered him but once in a while he would perk up and come into the kitchen and then it was a frantic guessing game for us to figure out what he would eat. He was obviously hungry, but really nauseated. We gave him fluids and had him at the vets for two days the first week getting IV fluids, chinese medicine and anything else they could think of to jump start his appetite. That first week we were almost ready to put him to sleep but he rallied after two days at the vets, demanded to be walked and was interested in food again for a short while. The last week he spent at home, with us tending to his delicate appetite, giving him fluids and taking him on very short walks. His best moment was last Sunday when we took him and his brother Dylan to the beach. He did not want to run around or chase a ball, but he quite happily waded in the water up to his chest and drank some lake water, while Dylan ran around like a maniac after his kong.
We weren't sure how Dylan was going to cope with this- they are litter mates, maybe even twins, and have been inseparable since they were twelve weeks old when they came to live with me and my ex, K. Oliver was always the sweet lover boy who just wanted to lick you, snuggle with you and have a quiet life. If it hadn't been for Dylan, he probably would have had a quiet life, but Dylan was always trying to get him to play and fight and wrassle! Even though Dylan looks like the alpha dog, he is actually a bit of a scaredy boy and we always saw Ollie as the one who was more confident and less anxious. Ollie could handle it when Dylan was away for a short time ( like at the vets) but Dylan would howl when Ollie went away. Over the past 6 or 7 years Ollie has had lots of trips to the vets: pancreatitis, any kind of itis of the stomach and colon, and we have worked really hard to find a diet and a regime that worked well for him and for Dylan. We found a really good food combination last summer and they had both been doing well until January, when Ollie got sick again and was treated with the ever useful Metronidizole. One liver enzyme was a bit elevated but the vet was not too worried. He was fine after that until a week or so before they went in for their check ups this June when he had had some vomiting and nausea. They both had blood panels and Oliver's came back with two liver enzymes elevated- one alarmingly so. And we started on the rollercoaster of X-rays, Ultrasounds, diagnoses, meds and fluids. We knew that all we could give was palliative care and that we couldn't cure him, but we all kept hoping that he would regain his appetite and be able to have more life left in him.
During the last two weeks, it has been hard not to be mad with Dylan - he has seemed almost oblivious to Oliver's illness, been very demanding and hyper and pushing and shoving. Our dogwalker pointed out that she thinks he was just really anxious about Ollie being sick and this was his way of showing it. When I figured that out it was easier to be compassionate towards him.
We decided on Thursday that we needed to let Ollie go and that he we couldn't alleviate his suffering anymore. So we made an appointment at our vets to euthanize him on Friday evening. Our vet, Maria, has been wonderful over the past five or so years since we switched to her becuase our previous vet had just thrown up her hands at Oliver's various stomach troubles. We brought Dylan with us and were able to sit with Ollie, Dylan and Maria and talk about Ollie's life and how he came into our lives and what a wonderful companion he has been. We sat on the floor with him on a cushion and blankets and told him we loved him and when he was ready she gave him the medicine that put him to sleep and stopped his heart. He looked so peaceful and it happened so fast. We were distraught. Dylan sniffed at him and we kissed him good-bye.
Since then we have been looking at our pictures of him and Dylan and trying to remember all the good times we had with Oliver, the travels, rolling around on hotel room carpets, running on beaches, splashing in lakes, wrestling with his brother, and rolling in the grass and the licks and cuddles. Mostly we have been comforting each other and trying to comfort Dylan who has reverted to his old slower, hesitant self. When we go for walks he lags on the way out and rushes on the way back. He smells the ground as if he is looking for Ollie's scent and looks around the house when he returns from being out. It is so surreal without Ollie. He and Dylan were our first dogs and we were all devoted to each other. Susan came into Ollie's life when he was two and when me and my ex were splitting up. Dylan had always been my special boy, even though I did most of the care- taking of both of them, and Oliver was my ex's special boy. When Susan and I got together she became Ollie's special mom and she really took care of him, looked out for him and was such a good momma to him. The last few weeks have definitely shown me a side of Susan that I knew was there but have never seen in such high definition. She is a wonderful care-taker and is going to make a wonderful baby momma! She is the most tender-hearted, strong, wonderful person and the only good thing to come from all this sadness is knowing that more than ever I have found the right human for me.