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Shalimar

15 Jul
My girl sleeping. I didn't want to open the cage and wake her.

My girl sleeping. I didn’t want to open the cage and wake her.

Shalimar started coming to us last winter. She’s a pom-mix, less yappy lap dog, more fox. She’s also a rescue from Arizona that around the office, became known as the foot dog. No one knows exactly what happened to her. The shelter that took her in found her wandering the desert streets, her paw pads scalded by the heat. But the radiographs we took show significant bone loss, and some have theorized that someone tried to declaw her by ripping out her nails. Either way her paws were severely infected with oozing drainage tracts on the tops and the bottoms of her feet.

Radiographs of her back paws, with distal bones missing.

Radiographs of her back paws, with distal bones missing.

The one blessing in this mess was that she seemed to have nerve damage to the point where she couldn’t feel her paws. She also happened to be the most stoic dog I’ve ever met. NEVER tried to bite, would only quietly cry in pain. Since her feet hurt, she liked to be held like a baby, feet up. Most dogs are hesitant to look you in the eyes, but she would focus her big brown eyes on yours. I adored her.

We treated the paws the best we could, but the infection was aggressive and not responding to antibiotics. They’d get better, then they’d get worse. Her owner was particularly patient and loving toward Shalimar, never complaining to us about our inability to fix the problem. That only makes the situation harder for us as good clients are hard to come by.

She deteriorated at a faster rate the last couple of weeks and Dr. L decided to admit her for heavy rounds of antibiotics and intensive nursing care. I took on a lot of her treatments and would hold her whenever I had some free time (which was not often this week.) Doing foot soaks can be a pain as animals flop around, splash water, want to escape. But with Shalimar I would hold her in my lap while her sad paws sat in the Epsom solution. She loved it and would often fall asleep as I held her paws in place. With gloves I would massage her feet in an attempt to reduce the swelling. One of the most disturbing things I’ve experienced as the paws would crackle like bubble wrap in my hands.

A part of me wanted to title this post “Delusion.” Too often I see owners who keep their pets alive too long. They selfishly refuse to accept that their pet is suffering and only getting worse. It makes me angry. But over the last week I realized how natural that feeling of hope can be and how hard it is to let go of something you love. I held Shalimar so many times and felt her labored abdominal breathing (a sign of pain). I watched her struggle to walk, refuse to eat. But because I loved this dog so much, I refused to see it. It wasn’t until Saturday night when Dr. L upped her pain meds that I realized she would have to be euthanized, and soon. She was conked out from the morphine and finally feeling a little peace. It was so hard to be pulled from that delusion and see what was really in front of me, an animal in a lot of pain. I started to cry and ran into the bathroom to try and contain myself.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful the owner was, how much she loved this dog and how reasonable she was. They euthanized my girl last night. I’m so sad about her being gone, but in that sadness I have to search for a little bit of happiness that we did the right thing.

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3 Responses to “Shalimar”

  1. queerf0x July 16, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    *hugs*

  2. wiseone July 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    She was blessed to have you with her at the end.

  3. thepuppymother September 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    I work at a vet’s office as well, it’s so hard when you put in so much time, energy, and love and they don’t always get to go home. You are right though, despite the sadness you know that the right thing was done, she was well cared for, and that she is now at peace.

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