Farewell PuppyGuts Part I

OMG. The last few days have been suffering from ‘Sploding Head Syndrome.  That is the colloquial term for it.  A shrink might call it is a massive leap on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.  This is where one or more events occur simultaneously so as to cause your stress and anxiety levels to go off the charts, resulting in tears, frustration, helplessness, sadness… this time, lots of sadness.

Huge puppy takes on neighbor's pig dog through six foot fence

On Thursday afternoon, I checked on PuppyGuts to make sure he has plenty of water (it’s been really hot lately… well until all this rain started) and then went off to the pool.  Came home, we made dinner, cleaned up after our meal, watched some TV and went to get ready for bed.  It was at this point that Mr K went to check in on PuppyGuts before bed time. And found him laying in the wet grass paralysed, convulsing and struggling to breathe.  He was also vomiting some green yuk that I thought might be bile or something.

I grabbed him, brought him inside and immediately checked him for ticks.  Found the culprit behind his right ear and got a torch and tweezers and carefully and properly removed the noxious little fucker.  All things considered it was a pretty small paralysis tick so I was hopeful we’d gotten to him fairly quickly.  Checked with a loupe to make sure the wound was clear and then grabbed the clippers and gave poor Oscar the fastest clip ever, to get to his skin to check if there was only one tick.  While I was doing this, Mr K was calling the the only 24hr vet hospital we know to see if they were able to take him.  Jumped into car, fifteen minutes later he was on the vet’s table with oxygen under his nose and a nurse swabbing his mouth out saying he’s been chewing on a toad as well!  Fark… double whammy.  Ticks and toads kill poor little guys like Oscar, who weighs in at barely 7kgs, and we have no idea how long he was affected.  🙁

They had to give him nasal O2 to get his oxygen saturation up and an IV drip for saline and some anti-tick serum but they gave him a 50-50 chance of making it, and that he was ‘touch and go’.  Not good PuppyGuts, not good. They told us if he stopped breathing they could place him under a general, intubate and put him on a ventilator (at $2500 per day!) which I absolutely did not want them to put the little guy through.  It’s really hard to make medical decision for your pets when they can’t speak up for themselves.  Went home with instructions to call in the morning to check on his condition, but that if he deteriorated, they’d call us immediately.  I left the little guy on the horrible green vet bed and said to him “You hang in there Oscar, or the Not So Small Child is going to be absolutely devastated if you don’t”.

The drive home is when the ‘what ifs’ kicked in.  What if I had checked him earlier… what if that odd noise I heard while I was busy preparing dinner was Oscar, when I thought it was the kids next door… what if… etc etc.  And ‘oh shit, how am I going to tell our son?’  😐   He was staying at his cousins for a few days and was due back first thing in the morning.  We called my Mum at midnight and asked her to let The Small Child know when he woke up that Oscar had a tick and was at the vet… I knew he would be immediately concerned but hopefully not distressed, as our previous pet Caesar, had a tick once and survived the ordeal.  By this time it was well after midnight and I knew I couldn’t take my usual drugs as I might have to drive first thing in morning.

Called the vet just after 6am – puppy sedated, breathing still laboured, they had him isolated so he didn’t get distressed by all the busy clinic goings on.  O2 levels still good but condition still ‘touch and go’… really starting to hate that expression.  The Small Child came home and was upset as expected and wanted to go see him.  Talked to my GP and several others (including the vet) who said that it would be traumatic for him to see Oscar all covered in tubes and the vets were trying to keep him calm so ‘no visitors allowed’.

Called to check in at 1:30pm – puppy’s sedation had been lightened, his O2 levels are good but his breathing still laboured. On the positive side he hasn’t deteriorated but his condition is stable but still ‘touch and go’… right, absolutely despising that expression now.  Around 4:45pm, I got a ‘blocked’ number call on my phone and sinking feeling in my stomach.  I took the call outside and answered it with apprehension.  They told me that Oscar had started to regurgitate which blocked his airway and had stopped breathing, so they intubated him (against my directives) and then his little heart failed.  They tried CPR but he didn’t rally and had passed away a few minutes ago.

I got off the phone and after a few minutes of trying to collect myself and ‘Oh fuck how am I going to tell the Small Child?’… I got ready to go back inside.  Only he came bounding out to ask me something, took one look at me and knew Oscar was dead.  He was crying inconsolably and started asking to see him because ‘maybe he’s just asleep’, ‘maybe they got it wrong’, and ‘maybe he just needs to see us’.   Oh shit.  My head was thumping almost as much as my chest as I listened to my son pour out his grief and disbelief.  I kept telling him that Oscar was gone and that he was not himself so we didn’t want to go see him.  But I could tell he didn’t believe this was happening and his enquiring and scientific little mind wasn’t going to accept something he couldn’t see.

I distracted the Small Child by sending him inside to make some phone calls to tell Grandma and BigSal know what had happend (they already knew and would offer their support and sympathy) and then contacted the vet to find out what sort of state Oscar in and let them know my son was desperately wanting to come see him, that he didn’t believe his dog was gone and I think he needed to say his goodbyes.  They called me straight back and said they would clean him up and we could come straight down to see Oscar.  And even though I didn’t want to take him to see his dead dog, I knew he had to say goodbye.

We walked in and the receptionist, who was expecting us, solemnly led us to a consulting room where they had laid Oscar out on a towel and covered him with a plush paw-printed blankie.  We stood in front of him and I checked if he was sure he wanted to see PuppyGuts like this.  ‘Yes, Mum, I have to see him.’  He pulled back the blanket and started to cry uncontrollably.  He wept and spoke to Oscar repeating over and over ‘I don’t want you to go’ and ‘how can you leave me, you’re my best friend’.  He hugged and petted Oscars poor little body and asked me more questions about how he died, how come they couldn’t save him, why didn’t the medicine work, are we sure he’s actually dead, maybe he’s in a coma…  As a parent, it was gut wrenching to see my son go through all these feelings.  After about ten minutes of pouring his heart out to Oscar about how he wished he wasn’t dead and how much he will miss him, I told him we would have to leave soon.  At which point he said he couldn’t go and that we had to take Oscar home.

Oh holy fuck.

He didn’t want to let go.  He was crying and sobbing into the dog’s fur and holding his little paw in his hand and saying he wanted to take him home. He was asking me to take photos of him with his dead puppy and while I found this morose I figured if he needed it, then that’s what I would do.  I told him that I would give him a moment to say his final goodbyes and I would be right back.  I went to the receptionist and told her my dilemma  – he won’t leave – and asked for a brochure on pet cremation to take back to the Small Child.  When I entered the room, he was punching the air and kicking and flailing and with tears coursing down his cheeks and a broken sobbing voice, he was CURSING GOD for taking his best friend away.  I thought my heart was going to break then and there.  I held him close and told him I loved him and I understood how he felt because losing Oscar is an awful, tragic, unexpected thing to happen.  He stood crying quietly in my arms until his tears became big ‘lump in your throat’ heaving chest sobs.  I told him we couldn’t take Oscar home with us but that we could have his little body cremated and bring him home in a few days.

The look on his face was one of deep sadness but there was also resignation.  He knew we weren’t going to be walking out of the vet clinic with a deceased dog.  He knew I wasn’t going to let his little body be thrown out with the medical trash.  He had a look at the brochure and he had one question for me… ‘Will they look after Oscar, Mum?’ … ‘Yes kiddo, they will look after him as though he was their very own.’  So he clung to that little brochure and I managed to get him say one final goodbye to Oscar aka PuppyGuts.

This is so exhausting, and I’m in tears even just writing and thinking about it that I will have to write the rest another day… yes, there’s more.  Much more.

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