Anonymous Guest Contributor
One day, my dog started peeing blood. Not, like, ‘oh there was some blood in her urine, might want to get that checked out,’ but, pretty much just straight blood. Obviously this was kind of worrisome. She kept doing it, and I became convinced she was going to die.
The next day, my parents took her to the animal hospital, where she promptly peed a giant puddle of blood in front of the front desk. They took her in, got her some coagulating medication and hooked her up to an IV to replace some of the fluids she’d lost. There was a possibility that she would need a blood transfusion. For some reason I found this funny. Little doggie blood transfusions. Who are the donors, I wonder? (I later looked this up: Dogs, as it turns out.)
After a day and a few tests it turned out she had cancer. Little doggie cancer. There was no guarantee that little doggie chemotherapy would do anything but make her final days less comfortable. She was going to die. I was sad, but I could accept it.
In the past, I’d had recurring nightmares about her dying. One common one was that I’d be out hiking with her and she’d be bitten by a rattlesnake and slowly fade away in my arms, and then when she died I’d wake up. Pretty straightforward. So, armed with the knowledge that the nightmare was real, I expected we’d go visit her in the animal hospital, and she’d be lying on her side all weak from blood loss, give a half-hearted wag when she gratefully recognized us, lay her head back down, and then, you know, we’d put her to sleep. Not necessarily that quickly, but, that’s basically how smooth all the dream deaths had been. Terribly sad, but sort of calm. I was ready.
Then my dad and I visited her at the animal hospital, where she was frantic. She was violently shaking, she was panting and pacing, and she was constantly making this high, keening noise that I’d never heard from her. She was happy to see us, of course, because she was desperately focused on escaping her hospital cell. The look on her face when we left her behind was heartbreaking. I just kept repeating, over and over in my head, she wants to live. She had no concept of cancer, even if she had felt sick. She’d been sick or hurt before in her life, but she’d always recovered. She had no way of knowing that this would be the last time, her last everything, it was so obvious that all she wanted was to get out and keep on living. And she can’t (because she’s dying), I thought. It seemed so unfair for her.
Anyway, we did actually get to take her home from the hospital, and for a couple weeks she was better, and then she wasn’t again. Eventually she stopped eating and kept peeing blood. On her last day she peed blood and vomited all over the apartment. We drove her to the Riverway and took her on one last walk, that was punctuated by her straining to pee or poop every 30 seconds but being unable to due to having to pass blood clots. Not ‘little doggie blood clots;’ clots of a size that has no business coming out of a urethra. But she was happy to be there.
We got back and my parents called for some home euthanasia service. A woman came and gave her some sedative while we all pet her. I said goodbye before she lost consciousness. Then it took the woman like six tries of lethal injections before she actually died. We would keep waiting for her to stop breathing, and just when it seemed like she had taken her last breath, her side would rise and fall again. There was a nice breeze coming in through the window. It was pretty peaceful.
I followed my parents as they carried her body, covered in a couple of towels, out to the trunk of the euthanasia woman’s van. At that moment, a horrible thought flashed through my head. This was already in the afternoon. How many other dogs had she euthanized already today? Would she open the trunk to reveal a stack of other, similarly wrapped doggie bodies? Would my parents have to lay our dog down on top of a pile of other people’s dogs? No, they didn’t, thankfully.
I watched the van pull out up the road. Again I was picturing things that could go wrong, like, it would drive for about ten seconds and get in a car crash, or something. But nothing happened. I watched the van drive away until it was out of sight, then I went inside.