Everyday that I work I meet wonderful dogs. Every once in a while there will be one special dog that really connects to my soul. Yesterday that dog was Chrissy.
Chrissy was a mixed breed dog. She weighed around 60 pounds and had a thick hair coat that seemed to want to shed all over. She was fairly tall but not as big as a Lab or German Shepard would be. I called her into the exam room with her "mom". Chrissy had developed an odd gait in her walk and her head was starting to tilt to the left. Her tummy was round and bloated looking. Her gums were slightly on the pale side. Chrissy was 12 years old, which is considered to be old for a dog her size. That is something I never have understood. Smaller dogs seem to live alittle longer than the bigger dogs do. A poodle at 12 will still look very young while a Great Dane is lucky to live to the age of 12.
My doctor came in and did a physical exam. Her abdomen was tight and painful and he agreed that her gums were slightly pale. He recommended x-rays and blood work which revealed a large mass in the abdomen. Not good news.
This is what really got to me with Chrissy. When she was getting her physical exam she was totally trusting of us. She kept looking deep into my eyes like she was reading my mind. She would turn and check on her owner, making sure she was still present. The positioning for the x-rays had to be incredibly uncomfortable, yet she continued to remain calm and focused on my eyes. Then when my doctor presented her owners with an estimate of over a thousand dollars I felt sick. I hate this part of my job where I know money is the answer. Too much and it's almost always a death sentence and given Chrissy's age I knew her owners would hesitate to spend that much and not have a good guarantee that she would survive the surgery or live a few more years. They struggled with the decision well past closing time. This was not something they took lightly or brushed off as many people do by saying, "it's just a dog". They toiled with the prospect of surgery and asked all the right questions and in the end decided to euthanize her. The biggest part of me knew it was mostly a money thing and wished I was rich and could just say here, let me help.
Euthanasia is something I struggle with . Some days I deal with it everyday I work, sometimes several times a day, other days there may be none. It is something I had to do for my own pet a few years back and it really leaves an owner with a whole range of emotions. First your sad, then your angry that you had to make that decision and then you feel guilty. Some owners can not stay and be with their beloved pet during those final moments. Chrissy's parents decided that they could not be there. I hugged her mom and told her that I would stay with her during the procedure. She started to cry and thanked me. I wanted her to know somehow that I loved Chrissy and she would not feel alone nor be alone at the end of her life. I hope she understood all of that in my hug as I could not form the words to speak them aloud.
I hugged Chrissy up and I stroked her head and ears as she drifted off to heaven. I do believe all dogs go to heaven. I told her to say hello to my Buddy, Poochie and Dukie when she got there. I then made an inked paw print of her paw as a keepsake for her owners. The doctor will send a sympathy card and include that memento. I knew Chrissy only briefly and she made me love her in that very short amount of time. I imagine her family will miss her dearly.