Wow, what a hard post to begin. I never expected that we'd have to say goodbye to Shirley so soon. She was only ten years old...we all thought we had at least a few more years with her.
On Saturday morning around 2am, Jarrod woke up and realized Shirley wasn't in our room with us where she always is. He found her asleep in the corner of the dining room, and when he got her to go back into our room with him, she wouldn't lay down. She just sat there on her bed for at least twenty or thirty minutes. That morning, she didn't even come out to have breakfast or go out to pee so we knew something was going on.
Saturday was spent just laying around. She didn't eat dinner, and just wanted to sleep. I just had this gut feeling that something was going on, but of course I was trying to stay positive. I laid with her on the floor while Jarrod was gone to workout and snapped some pictures of her.
Sunday she seemed to be doing better and we thought maybe she had just had a stomach bug. She was eating and playing around with the kids. But, Monday morning, she didn't eat again, just wasn't acting like herself again, and I noticed she was drooling a lot. I decided it was time to call the vet. They couldn't get her in until late that afternoon but they told me to bring her in and just drop her off so they could keep an eye on her and I cried all the way there. Something inside told me this wasn't good.
They ended up keeping her overnight. All the tests they ran showed everything was 'slightly' or 'mildly' elevated. She was borderline anemic, but everything else seemed mild and so they did xrays to see if they could find a mass. Well, they didn't find a mass, but found that her heart had almost doubled in size. She didn't have an irregular heartbeat or a heart murmur, which are the things that they could treat, and after more bloodwork and xrays on Tuesday morning, it was determined that the antibiotics, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory meds they gave her on Monday to try to help hadn't done anything. Aside from traveling a few hours to do some exploratory surgery that the vet didn't even think would be a good option, there just wasn't much we could do anymore. At this point (Tuesday morning), she hadn't eaten since Sunday and was spitting up any water she tried to drink, which led him to think there was likely something going on with her diaphragm as well.
Jarrod decided to leave work around 10:30 on Tuesday and go see her, and my heart immediately broke when he called me in tears. He said she just didn't even look well anymore and he knew it was time. We decided to go pick up Gavin from school early and Jarrod was bringing Shirley home so we could say our goodbyes here. I didn't want the kids to see her at the vet like that and be scared.
Once we all got home, Jarrod told me that she had so much trouble getting up into the car that he didn't want to take her back to the vet and our wonderful veterinarian had offered to come to our home to euthanize her so we planned on that. We spent all day Tuesday taking turns laying with her. It was such a draining day. I've never seen Jarrod cry so much; it was so hard on him.
She literally laid on her dog bed and didn't move from the time they got home around 11 until 7:45 that night. When Jarrod opened the closet, where her food is kept and she usually come running for, she didn't even lift her head.
Then it was time to have the kids say their goodbyes. Riley, of course, doesn't quite get it, but she loved on her. Gavin was hesitant; he patted her back but didn't want to hug her or kiss her and we didn't push it. We took the kids into bed and I told Gavin that if he changed his mind, he could come out to hug her before the doctor came to pick her up and reminded him that she wouldn't be there in the morning. Just a few minutes later, he came out crying and laid with her.
Jarrod and I had a little bit of time to just spend with her before Dr. Harper came over. We cried together, Jarrod paced the floor some looking for the doctor, and we finalized our decision that we didn't need to receive her ashes.
When the vet arrived, we briefly spoke about where we got Shirley and how we picked her name. Jarrod wanted to know if we had done anything wrong, and he reassured us that this heart condition is genetic and really doesn't have a known cause. He explained to us what he was going to do, and when he started to give her the anesthetic in her back leg, he noticed he couldn't even find her femoral pulse, which he said meant the blood wasn't even flowing to the back of her body anymore. She was in bad shape.
He gave her an anesthetic and she immediately fell asleep, then he left the room to go get a blanket for her and gave us a few more minutes alone with her. We both kissed her and whispered our goodbyes. When he returned, we put her on the blanket, and he went ahead and shaved her front leg to administer the injection. He hadn't even finished it before she stopped breathing. It was very peaceful. Jarrod helped carry her out to his truck and we thanked him for coming to us. Then Jarrod and I just held each other and cried.
It's going to be a long while before things get better around here. Jarrod came home from work the next day and immediately broke down because she wasn't there to greet him at the door. I still find myself walking by her bowl (which we haven't put away yet) thinking I need to add water to it or I'll see a shadow at the door and think it's her waiting to be let in. The kids still run to close their doors before we leave the house and it hits me every time that we don't have to flip our cushions over for the first time in years to keep her off the couch when we leave. We've actually had to start sweeping our floor after dinner; no more Shirley to clean up all the crumbs for us. It's just really different to not have our furry friend here with us when she's been here for the last ten years of our lives. The kids don't know life without her!
Of course, we can't help but feel guilty for the times we were annoyed with her. It all seems so silly now; she was such a good dog, even if she did eat her poop and roll around until she was covered in our annoying grass through the winter, making her look like a yellow lab instead of a black one. All dogs get into things; looking back, her getting wrappers out of the trash while we were gone really wasn't a big deal after all. It definitely puts things in perspective. And I can't help but feel sad that I didn't give her as much attention after I became a mom. Before the kids were born, she was my baby. After, I definitely neglected to give her the same attention and I feel so bad about that now. Luckily, Jarrod never changed the way he treated her so I know she always felt loved. She was such a lucky dog. And we were so lucky that she was our first family pet; definitely not the normal puppy!
Thank you all for the kinds words over the last few days. We never imagined how hard this day would be; the quickness of it all definitely didn't make it any easier. Shirley will always be a part of our family. Riley has already seen her in her dreams! I know that her memory will always live on around here as we remember all the fun times we had with her.