(alias Charlie B, Charles Bronson Johnson
Charles Barclay Johnson, Noodle, My Little Enchilada)
It has been quite some time since my last blog. I had been waiting for my new website that would be centered around my new book (that is still in its editing phase). In the meantime, we lost our dear Charlie to a stroke.
We adopted Charlie from a foster home in Ohio when he was four, and he was part of our family for eleven years. Charlie had just turned fifteen in July and was clearly aging. He had eye infections and ear infections frequently. His heart murmur became more pronounced, and there were signs of a possible cancerous tumor growing on his chest. We chose to limit extraordinary care and went with palliative care.
Having been schooled in palliative care in the hospital in which I worked, I knew that treating symptoms and giving him as much comfort as possible was what I wanted. So, that is what we did...until one day, he began to stare into the distance and didn’t seem to know where to go or what to do. He found it difficult to walk, and began vomiting and had diarrhea.
It was a Sunday. We called our home vet. She thought it might be some kind of bug and instructed us to take him to Vet Emergency Care. I wrapped him in a blanket, took him in, handed him over to the vet and waited. When the vet re-entered the examining room, he said, “I’m so sorry. There is nothing I can do. He appears to have had a stroke. He can’t even stand by himself. Would you like me to euthanize him?”
I knew that I wanted him home for that, being held by those he loved. I contacted our home vet, she agreed to come the following day. So, I took Charlie, wrapped him up and brought him home.
That night, he walked around the house all night. I stayed with him. He would go into a room, stare and then move on to another room. When he went into the kitchen, he stopped by his water dish, but acted as if he had forgotten how to drink, moving along to the next room. By morning, he was exhausted and slept.
The vet arrived in the early part of the afternoon. As I held him, her assistant gave him a shot to relax him. He closed his eyes and relaxed in my arms. Several moments later, after he received the propofol, his body became limp. “He’s gone,” the vet said. She was tearful. I was tearful. As she was getting ready to leave, I said, “I can’t believe how much this hurts. I don’t think I’ve cried this much for some of my family members who have passed on.” She gently replied, “When you are with someone 24/7 and share your entire life with them, the grief can be more acute. He was always there for you.” She gave me a virtual hug and quickly left.
We took Charlie’s body to a pet crematorium and had his ashes delivered to us the next day. Placing the sturdy box on my dresser, I pat it every night before I get into bed.
That first week, I noticed the little things: I now put down one bowl instead of two. When I am gardening in the front yard, there is now one little head looking through the storm door instead of two. When we go on rides, there is one dog in the back hammock instead of two. And it is very, very quiet around the house. Charlie was the noisy one. Even his breathing was noisy. Charlie was the one extrovert in a family of introverts, and we loved him for it. He could make us laugh. He crowed when he wanted his dinner. He made quite a bit of noise when we got close to home in the car. I no longer tripped over a dog with every step I took. Sidney isn’t like that---following me everywhere close enough to touch my heel. Sidney is vigilant but is usually at a distance.
It has now been two weeks, and I am not in tears nearly as much as that first week. I created a Shutterfly book with pictures and memories. It should be arriving soon. I placed a picture of him when he was a bit younger next to a picture of Beaumonde, another dog we had to put down several years ago.
Thank you for reading my thoughts. Sharing them with you is part of my healing. For those of you who have pets and have lost one, you fully understand every word I am saying. If you are not a pet-person, I challenge you to validate the feelings of those you know who have lost pets. Unconditional love, always excited to see you, looking to you for care and comfort, cute antics., warm, furry and huggable. Can you think of anyone in your life like that?