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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Alex Has Gone into the West.

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Alex Has Gone into the West.

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We had to put Alex down last night.

I know. We were just celebrating his biopsy results coming back negative for any cancerous cells. And the second opinion confirmed that.

Yesterday morning, when we woke up, Alex was a little under the weather. But he has never been a morning person, and he had played hard with Bobby the night before, so we chalked it up to him being a little worn out. But when we came home from work, he was very obviously lethargic, and when we checked his gums, they were gray, suggesting that he was bleeding again inside. (He had gotten his color back to the extent that even his grandparents commented on how pink his tongue was when he was panting at Mackey's last week!) His breathing was also a little labored, and he was using his abdominal muscles to draw breath.

We took him to the Pet ER, and the vet, suspecting that one of the lesions on his liver was hemorrhaging like his spleen had hemorrhaged, recommended an ultrasound. She found no free fluid in his belly, but on a hunch, took a look at his heart, and his pericardium was full of fluid. She explained that she was 95% certain that he had a hemangiosarcoma on his pericardium that had ruptured and was filling his pericardium with blood. The biopsy likely came back negative because the tissue in his spleen had deteriorated so badly that even the cancerous cells weren't able to live in it anymore. Basically, his whole body was riddled with cancer.

There is nothing--NOTHING--that can be done for hemangiosarcoma on the heart. There is no medical or surgical solution to prolong his life. Since he was hemorrhaging into his pericardium, his time was very limited, and as she explained, could quickly deteriorate to where he died badly during the night. (I asked if we could take him home for one last night and have Dr. Baker do his euthanasia the next day, but she said that there was a significant risk that he would deteriorate rapidly in just a few hours.) And we did see him deteriorate even in the two hours we were at the vet with him.

My parents were in Atlantic City, but my inlaws, Amiah, and Erin came to the ER, and he was so happy to see them. He lifted his head and wagged his tail each time, and he even stood up for his Aunt Erin. You could almost see in his face the surprised delight that everyone came unexpected to see him! So he was peaceful and happy when the time came. (Which is why I didn't want to euthanize him at the ER if we could avoid it, because he understandably hates it there, and I didn't want him to be distressed when he died.) We surrounded him for about a half-hour and petted him and laughed over our memories of him and how he used to walk Grandmom around the apartment complex when we lived in Ellicott City and try to eat napkins that he found on the ground and pull pieces off the Christmas tree, and all the other stuff he used to do that made him Alex.

This is really hard. I have loved and lost pets before, but I have never loved a pet like I loved Alex, and I don't know if I will again. He was not a typical Golden. He was very intelligent and willful, and he did things on his terms. I always felt like he and I were cut from the same cloth, like we were truly Wallses in our manners and personalities. There was always friction between us because he would intentionally do things to irritate me for attention (I definitely irritated him too, since I would tickle his ears and feet), or I would want him to do something one way, and he had to do it on his terms, but I understood and connected to him like I never have before with a pet. Three weeks ago, when he went in for his spleen, I began to prepare for this possibility, but now that it's come, I still find myself surprised by the spaces in my life where he should have been, where I never thought to miss him and now find him gone.

We are so grateful for the time we had with him. A lot of pets with hemangiosarcoma die so suddenly that their people come home to find them dead. Or the situation could have been reversed, and the tumor on his heart might have ruptured first, and we would not have had the last three wonderful weeks with him, in which he seemed like a dog half his age, if only for a short while.

I am, as many know, getting ready to write my thesis in October. As those who work with me on fandom projects know, I am in the process of preparing those projects for my four months off. I feel like this is the moment when I am beginning to step back. I am probably not going to be around as much till my thesis is done. This does not mean that I am unavailable, and anyone who wants/needs to talk to me knows where to find me, and I am happy to hear from people, just not sure I'm quite up to being my usual hyper-energized self right now, at least socially. I hope you all know how much you mean to me and that my silence is not from lack of care or interest but because I'm coming up on an intense part of my life, and I feel very frail right now.

Alex is still at the ER. We have decided to bury him at home, so we are waiting to hear from Miss Utility so that we can choose a site and begin to dig, and the clinic will hold his body until then. He will be well provided with grave goods, and we are going to have a wake to celebrate his life. Anyone who lives in the area will be invited. I will post here when I have a date.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/369619.html
  • *HUGS* I'm so sorry, Dawn. Poor Alex. :( :( :( Keeping you, Bobby & all in my thoughts.
  • I've no words, just the most deepfelt sympathy for you all. I'm lighting a candle for Alex. ***hugs***
  • I am very sorry, dear. I had hoped for the best, but it seems that it was his time to go. I know how it feels.

    *hugs*
  • (((((hugs))))))

    Thinking about you and your family.
  • They come into our lives and they stay for nowhere long enough, and then they have to leave. But love never dies and memories are forever. I am so sorry, Dawn.

    Go well, Alex.
  • I'm so sorry to hear it. A pet's death is always hard, but especially when it comes with the rollercoaster of good news and bad news. He was a Good Dog.
  • (((hugs)))

    This has to have been so hard to lose him even after having had good news.

    It's never an easy thing to lose a fur companion; over the years we've lost two cats and several dogs, and each one has been a wrench.

    But some are definitely harder than others.

    (((more hugs)))

  • Oh Dawn, I'm so very sorry. I'm keeping you all in my thoughts, and sending lots of love your way *hugs*.
  • I'm so sorry, Dawn! What an awful turn of events after things looked so hopeful for your beloved boy. It's a consolation that Alex passed with people he loved and who loved him surrounding him there at the last.

    It's great that you and Bobby are burying him at home where he'll be close. Signor Bill buried his beloved Jazzer some years ago in his little backyard in Cambridge, and I gave him a stone marker. There's a beautiful Japanese maple that he planted near the grave site that is just gorgeous. I can't help but imagine Alex will have at least as great a send-off and remembrance.

    I feel very frail right now.

    Understandably. Take care of yourself.
  • Oh, Dawn. I am so, so sorry. *massive, massive hugs*
  • I am so sorry to hear this Dawn. My deepest sympathy to you and Bobby and the rest of your family.

    And yes, I know just what you mean when you say I feel very frail right now.

    ((((hugs))))
  • I'm so terribly sorry for your loss. I obviously never met Alex, but he sounded like a great housemate and a great dog. I was so happy for you to read that the biopsy came back negative, and it's devastating to hear that instead of more happy years with you, Alex had to leave this world surprisingly. *hugs*
    Take care of yourself, and good luck with your thesis.
  • I'm so sorry. *hugs* Sending good thoughts your way.
  • I am so sorry to hear that. It's good that he was happy and surrounded by people he loved in his last few hours.

    *hugs*
  • Dawn, I'm so, so sorry to hear this. *wraps you in a million hugs* <3
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