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She was a good dog

I was planning on writing about getting up early to try to catch the Perseids before dawn. Plans change.

We just had to put our dog Ginger down this evening. Despite seeming perfectly healthy when we left this morning (barring having stolen some food from Jodi’s work bag), her health extremely rapidly hit a crisis point after which there was pretty much no hope whatsoever. Earlier this afternoon, she suddenly collapsed and lost all bowel control, was extremely cold in her extremities with a blue tongue and purple gums, and was unable to stand or walk without assistance. My sister called me when this happened, and I rushed home. After some brief deliberation, I carried her into the car as she continued to breathe laboriously and void her bowels. Jodi met us at the vet’s.

When she was examined, we discovered that she had experienced a total circulatory collapse, probably due to a heart attack or something along those lines. Being part Nova Scotia Duck Toller, she had developed a very large growth in her chest as is their tendency, that attached to her heart and was flattening her lungs. Her heart was also very enlarged, probably from years of having to function with this large mass on it. For two hours the vets tried to improve her circulation to no avail.

Our only option to try to save her was to attempt to keep her alive through the night, in pain probably close to having a constant mild heart attack, while waiting for a vet from Halifax to examine the x-rays and verify a diagnosis of cancer, then thereafter determine whether operation was feasible (which the prognosis was extraordinarily dim). We had to make the decision that euthanasia would be the most humane course of action. There was very little likelihood the vets would have been able to keep her alive through the night, and she probably wouldn’t have survived the attempt to get her to Halifax ourselves to get to the specialist even if she had made it. Even assuming she survived all that, there was very very little that could have been done except in an absolute best case scenario.

Jodi had taken her in when she was 14, and Ginger was only a year old. The poor dog had been abused by her previous owners, and Jodi, her sister and her mother had rescued her. Ginger died tonight, at eleven years and two months old. I only knew her for her last four years, but I can tell you that despite her socialization problems resulting from her having been abused, she was really a good dog.

At the risk of being your average schmoopy blog tribute, I sort of felt the need to write this. When Mark and Sara visited to console us, I got my first moment of obvious absence when they knocked and Ginger didn’t jump up to roar at the door as she usually does. I suspect I’ll have a few of those moments over the coming weeks.

Comments

  1. Shannon says

    I am saddened as well to hear that Ginger is gone. I remember her quite well as a very friendly(Well to me at least) puppy. I know how much she meant to both Teri and Jodi and that she will be missed. It is never easy to lose a pet, especially one that you have had for so very long. It is the little things, like you mentioned, that seem to remind you the most of them. Give Jodi a hug from me and I hope all is well for all of you.

  2. Teri says

    Thanks Jason for posting this. It has meant alot to me that you guys took her when I moved and that you loved her as if you had always had her. She had a very good home and for that I’m grateful!
    I will miss her, and morn for her as much as you guys will.

    Love you ging, you were a good girl!

  3. says

    How unfortunate! I heartily agree with your decision, however. It’s always difficult to deal with end-of-life issues with a family member.

    Take care.

  4. says

    I recently spent a terrifying night sitting up with my dog till the vet opened the next day so she could have emergency surgery. And I’ve had to make that final decision for pets before, but fortunately not this time. I don’t have any words of wisdom; every pet I’ve lost was a distinct and different experience, just as each pet was a unique individual. And their absences are registered in different ways–no excited barking when a favorite visitor shows up, no warm weight in a lap at the desk, no tugging on the leash in a morning walk. Time passes, memories fade, and still I find myself expecting a furry touch–or the gift of a dead mouse–from a long-gone friend.

  5. says

    I’m very sorry to hear this. I’ve gone through losing a much-loved family pet after a sudden medical crisis, and it’s very sad and difficult. She sounds like she was a wonderful dog and family member.

  6. Steve says

    My sympathies go out to you and Jodi.

    Pets truly become a part of the family and their loss can be analogous to losing a human member of the family.

  7. says

    We had two missing-her moments today. Jodi with noticing the traffic in and out of the house caused no excitement, and me when I dropped a tiny piece of chicken and nobody dove at it face-first.

  8. says

    We really have no idea how much space they fill in our lives until they’re gone and we see the size of the hole left behind. Adjusting to life without a part of your family is hard. I lost one dog six years ago, and the other 3 years ago. I still miss them.

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