Monday, September 19, 2011
This is the post that we have been dreading for a long time. Nala was unable to get up and make her rear legs work Sunday morning. When we got up, Nala was in the process of dragging herself in the dog door from the back yard, using her front legs and dragging her rear legs. She had pulled herself in to the garage and across the garage floor, but she had not been able to pull herself up the ramp into the house. The Paw Challenged One picked her up and carried her to her bed in the front entry. He had come downstairs without his shirt or shoes, he ran back up to get them, by the time he came back down Nala had managed to pull herself into the Kitchen to check on progress with her food bowl. Somehow in a sitting position pulled herself down the hall. We called the vet and ran her across town. A quick review was that she was not in pain, her legs just would not respond. There was some neurological damage and the question was if it was permanent or reversible? We had to leave her there for observation.
Today Nala's condition had deteriorated. On Sunday morning she could get herself up on her front legs and drag herself, now she would fall over and she could not make her front legs work either. Her eyes were rolling, she was breathing hard and heavy, she seemed to have lost control of her nervous system. Her vision had deteriorated recently. There was some suspicion that she had a brain tumor, that would account for her recent vision deterioration. There may have been a stroke as well. Yes, they could keep her alive and perhaps she would leave the vet's cage after a few days. But in the short term she would have no unassisted mobility, in the long term she would have to receive help to go in and out.
She had been very upset with us when we went to the annual picnic at the lake without her. But she was having trouble getting up and down, once she was up, she stayed up, once she was down, she stayed down. If a dog brushed her in the hallway, she would fall and getting up was getting increasingly difficult. We knew she would love the picnic, but we were afraid she would hurt herself by not setting limits. She would be walking the shore, trying to be part of the action, but she did not have that level of energy or of function in her hips. We knew she was failing, so we left her home, she was mad at us for not letting her go along. We made sure she had extra treats when we came home that night.
Today, the decision had to be made whether to try and keep her alive, knowing that she would lose most of her mobility in both the short run and in the long run. We thought about how active she had been, in spite of her hips that were so sore that she drug them, even when they worked to stay under her. We remember how she would come looking for head pats and ear rubs in the middle of the day. We remember how excited she would be when she saw her food dish in hand, she had a special dance she did to hurry it along. We remember how she would begin nagging us if supper was late, she would begin going from her empty food dish to where we were sitting, reminding us we had duties to take care of at 6:30 am and pm. We remember how each trip up the ramp was a struggle, she pulled herself up with her front legs, her rear legs reluctantly coming along. Her front legs had grown stronger as her rear legs became more unwilling to cooperate. How would she feel about living a life where we had to put a vest on her to pick her up every time she wanted to go outside? We had to ask ourselves if not being able to leave the dog bed without help was really a life? Would she enjoy living if she had to have her dog dish brought to her, if she had to be half carried out the door to her cherished backyard? Would she enjoy living if she could no longer sneak out and lie in morning sun in the big hole she had dug under the pine tree?
We hope we made the right decision, it is a decision that does not carry re-do's. No second chance on this one. We weighed her life as it would be if we kept her, against the life she had told us she wanted to live. We sent her on her way with dignity, we sent her to run free.
Thank you to Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies for taking her out of a back yard where she spent 365 days of a year in a lonely yard, in sun, rain and snow. Thank you to Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies for sending her to us to enjoy for her last years.
We will all miss you so much, Nala. You were a special lady to us for a long time. Thank you for coming to our house to live. We were blessed and privileged to be able to help her find happiness in her final years. Rest in peace, Nala.
Mogley G. Retriever