Saturday, August 11, 2007

A heart that's just too big...

I don't even know if blogger picks up timestamps on posts, but if it doesn't, I'll tell you I'm writing this at 5:30 a.m.

Few people are ever on the computer at that time of morning for a good reason. My reason? I just can't sleep. Even though I am mentally exhausted and physically drained, I can't sleep.

My sweet, precious Dobie is gone.

His surgery on Tuesday went well and he didn't have any complications at all that day. Wednesday we went to see him and while he looked a little mopey, we knew that was to be expected...he'd just had some MAJOR surgery! Again though, no sign of complications. He was on a heart monitor and things looked good. His vitals were good.

But yesterday morning, my parents got a phone call that he had taken a turn for the worse. His heart rate was elevated, his breathing was labored, he didn't want to eat and he was unresponsive with the doctors and staff. He was alive, but didn't acknowledge them. She suggested then that we all head down there and bring him some of his homecooked food to see if we could "perk him up."

I called Mr. CCC in tears and we both left our respective jobs to meet my parents at the hospital. I was fully prepared to say goodbye to my dog, but what I got instead was what I consider Dobie's last gift to us.

When he walked into the room, he practically ran and jumped to us. His tail started wagging like crazy, he licked us all. He didn't know who to go to was happy dog overload! We spent two hours with him and while at first he didn't want to eat, when I sat down next to him, and gave him a piece of chicken from my hand, he took it and looked up at me like, "Well? There is more, isn't there?"

The doctor came into the room while we were with him and looked visibly relieved. She told us Dobie had given her quite the scare and that it appeared what he really, really needed were his people. She then told us if he didn't show any complications overnight, he would be ready to go home.

My mom got the call Friday morning to pick him up and they brought him home. But he was a shadow of the dog we'd seen a day earlier. He didn't want to eat. And during the day, he would respond to them and try to get up and follow my parents around until finally, they just sat in the room with him because they knew the activity wasn't good for him. He just didn't want to be by himself.

When I got out of work and went to their house and saw Dobie on his bed, I knew he was slipping away. He barely lifted his head to greet me. I tried to get him to eat like he had the day before, but nothing. It was the only time in his life that Dobie has ever turned his back to me when I've spoken to him.

Things got worse not even an hour later when while on his bed, Dobie lost control of his body and went to the bathroom all over himself and the bed. My parents cleaned him up, put him in my car (since it was easier for him to get into) and rushed him to the ER.

The doctors did everything they could, but Dobie went into cardiac arrest in my car. He died moments after reaching the hospital.

My parents and I had a long discussion as to why they let him come home today, but I got my answer when I saw his discharge papers. His painkiller dose was double what he'd been prescribed after his biopsy last week. And the first instruction on his "medicine" listing was, "Give Dobie lots and lots of love!" with a BIG heart on it.

I believe in my heart that his doctors knew yesterday when they called us that he wasn't going to make it. But instead of keeping him separated from his home and his family anymore, they sent him home to spend his last days with us. The painkiller dose meant he felt nothing--something the vets in the ER assured us...Dobie knew his body was failing him, but he did not FEEL his body failing him.

It's been a little surreal. This is the second time in less than a year that my family has lost a dog. Cancer took our Papo last October and I think cancer again played a part with Dobie, although technically, what took him was his heart problem---an enlarged heart.

Dobie did have a very, very big heart and of course, I find it ironic that that's what caused him to leave us. He was truly a special dog who always showed us he cared. Even today, in his final hours, he tried to be with us as much as he could. He was as noble, loyal and kind as you could ever imagine.

People were always stunned when they learned we had a Doberman Pinscher. And I can't tell you how many times people would cross to the other side of the street when they saw me walking him. He looked ferocious. Until you got up close and he would nudge with his cold nose. Or offer you his paw as an introduction--we showed him how to "shake hands" as a pup and eve yesterday, when I asked, "Give me paw?" he always put his paw in my hand.

Dobie never growled or complained, even when in pain. He never bit anyone or begged for food. Whatever you asked of him, he did. He loved to roll around the in the grass of our backyard or play hide and seek with us. (We always did the hiding, he did the finding). We used to joke in our family that his eyes and his face told us more than words ever could and that he was one step away from being human and all he needed was to physically speak. I can never and will never forget that face.

It's been incredibly hard on my stepdad. My mom and I got Dobie for him as a Christmas gift six years ago because he had always wanted his own dog--a big dog. And while Dobie loved us all, there was a bond between he and my stepfather that could not be broken. I often used to joke I was jealous, because with my parents out of town so much for work, I did lots of dogsitting for Dobie and he'd just up and leave my side as soon as my stepdad walked in the door.

When my parents got home from the ER tonight, my stepdad stumbled through the door wearing Dobie's collar around his neck. He just held onto me and cried, sobs shaking his entire body saying, "My dog is dog is gone...why is my beautiful dog gone?" It was heartbreaking in a way I can't describe. He ended up throwing himself on Dobie's dog bed and sobbing and we just had to give him his space.

The only consolations I have right now are that so many wonderful people, including those of you who stop in on my blog, have sent our family so many good wishes and so many prayers. To know Dobie was in so many thoughts is incredibly special and I am eternally grateful. My other consolation? That this happened while my parents were home.

They're both travel agents so on most weekends, they're not here. I can't tell you how many times over the past few months while Dobie's health was deteriorating and Mr. CCC and I had to rush him to the ER alone I've asked God to just let Dobie stay with us until my parents got back. I don't even want to wrap my head around the idea of having to call my stepdad and tell him his boy was gone.

Dobie's last minutes on earth weren't ideal and yes, he was rushed back to the hospital but his last days and his last hours were with his people. He wasn't alone when he passed and he was in no pain, surrounded by just love. When all of our times come, we should be as fortunate.

I truly believe God needed a really, really, really good dog in heaven, so he called Dobie home. And more importantly, when he did that, he ended Dobie's tough medical road and healed his little body in a way no one on earth could.

I'm pretty sure that his little brother was waiting for him and that the two of them are having a great time together. And I bet just like it happened here, the little one is already pushing Dobie around...


Lynn said...

I'm so sorry to hear what happened. :( *hugs*

You did everything you could and he spent his last hours in a comfortable & familiar place with no pain.

Lora said...

I'm so sorry about Dobie! Your words about your step dad just broke my heart. You're right though - Dobie is no longer in
pain and at peace. Animals are such a precious blessing. You were lucky to have Dobie! I hope you feel better soon.... I'll say a prayer for you and your step dad as well.

Livy said...

I actually have tears steaming down my face here. I'm so sorry you lost your dear friend Dobie.
When I lost my Wishbone 18 months or so ago, after sobbing uncontrollably all day, I logged onto a greiving pet owners site and chatted to strangers for hours about my best friend. They were so kind and understanding and they really had compassion and empathy for what I was going through. Maybe you could look into this? I also went into a frenzy of finding photos of my dog. I printed out the ones on my computor, and found them everywhere, in drawers, shoeboxes and albums. I framed every single one, sobbing, and put them up where I could see them. I just wanted to talk about him, but every time I talked to him about David he would turn the other way, saying he didn't want to discuss it. Later, he confessed that he was in a place of hurt too, and sadness, but just needed to be alone with his thoughts. Just goes to show everyone grieves differently, and though they may not openly be distraught, like your stepdad, it doesn't mean that they aren't hurting just as much. Dobie had a rich and wonderful life surrounded by people who loved him. Be sad that he is gone, but also celebrate how happy his life's journey was. Death is just a natural part of life, and will happen to us all eventually. The way I look at it, Dobie may have let go at a time that was right for him. Maybe he wanted you all to be able to spend those last couple of days with him, being completly unselfish, before his tired body and heart just couldn't live a moment longer. What a trooper. May he rest in peace.

Mimi said...

Oh Christy, I'm so sorry to hear. I was really expecting the best for you and little Dobie.
My heart just sank for you and your family. You are right though, the best thing was for him to leave with his family around him. I will keep your family in my prayers during such a hard time.


sandy said...

ugh - so hard to read. you know - it's like you get a dog and you know this is going to happen someday, but you just can't wrap your head around it until it happens. i am so sorry you and your parents have to feel this pain. i'm just so glad that you guys knew and appreciated the happiness your pup brought to your lives. what a good little spirit he was on this planet! the world is a little less cool without him. i'll hug m boy a little tighter tonight.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God CCC. I am bawling here. I am just deeply saddened and I never even got to meet this precious little pup of yours. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know there is nothing I can say to make the pain any easier but just know somebody in the Netherlands is thinking of you and your family today.

Mymsie said...

Awww, I'm so sorry for your loss. Sounds like Dobie was a wonderful dog.

Shannon said...

I am so sorry to hear about your precious Dobie. It truly is like losing a family member and I am very sorry. I know that burning feeling of pain is very difficult to deal with, but always know that you loved that dog very much and he KNEW IT! It sounds like you had a good vet that handled things really least in my opinion. Please know that thoughts and prayers are headed your way from TN.