You love having animals in your life, right? Me too.
Since I was 8 years old, I have had been lucky enough to have animals in my life – I really hope I am never without animal companionship.
But – and perhaps you have been to this “dark side” – there is a time when something happens to their comfort or health and quality of life and it just cannot be “made right” ever again. And that for me, is the hardest part.
Here is my St Bernard’s story – Savannah.
Savannah came into my family and life 5 years ago. Immediately she insisted that every human around knew she was lovable and outgoing.
There was passion for food that bordered on manic – getting so excited that frequently she spun in excited circles of happiness at the sound of the food being prepared. Her 2 Greyhound companions got excited just because Savannah got excited at food time, however the look on their face when presented with food was slight disappointment, whereas Savannah’s face managed to convey gratitude, relief and sheer bliss that food was available to her.
Savannah’s heaven was human company and food.
However she was remarkably gentle when taking treats and would never snap at food. Go figure!
Lameness – again
Savannah started to limp late last week, and so I gave her medications that were expected to work. (her orthopaedic history is a bit long and complicated, she has had surgery on her elbows with acupuncture and stem cells surgery to help her spinal issues)
We were used to adjusting medications for her, and so it was with confidence and optimism that we looked for her to return to normal St Bernard bounce.
48 hour into the medication change I became uneasy as the limp had not only failed to improve, it had got worse. I found myself thinking “this cant be good”.
Information was needed to explain what was going on – so we did radiographs of her front leg.
Shoulder was normal, elbow was showing the expected arthritis related changes.
The heartbreak came as we looked at the bone just above her wrist. There we saw the culprit, as a lot of the bone had been eaten away. This had been developing for some time, and clearly (like most dogs) she had demonstrated no visible signs of an issue or pain.
However 80% of radius bone had been eaten away and a part was broken away – the reason she was painful.
The Hardest Part
For some situations, amputation is an option to extend comfort and extend life.
The reality – as noted previously – Savannah had already existing issues with elbows and her back. This included a previous issue that started 2 years ago called Fibrocartilaginous emboli. Mostly improved with the stem cell treatment and acupuncture I used, but left her more weakened in her back end than previous to this condition.
We were not left with any viable options. The advanced bone cancer, the pain and the presence of other orthopaedic issues meant treatment that may have otherwise been useful, wasnt realistic for Savannah.
We talked. And cried. Then made the only decision that was going to alleviate the pain and euthanased her that afternoon. We cried some more – and my only positive thoughts are that the pain she must have been feeling was no longer going to be present.
I consider myself lucky to have animals in my life. But that joy unfortunately means little at those hardest times when we truly want to make our animals whole and comfortable again and yet it cannot be achieved.