Friday, January 20, 2006

Goodnight 'Mithter Fluffy'

Unless someone was sick, Tank would only come up on the bed IF forced. He was never comfortable there. It just wasn't his preferred place to be. But, he would come up for a few minutes each night when I went to bed so that I could scritch his ears.

If I started dozing off before HE thought I'd done a satisfactory job, he'd say so by batting my hand around with his nose until it ended on the ear he wanted more attention paid to.

When I'd finally completed my task sufficiently, Tank would plonk his head on my hip or thigh.

"Goodnight, 'Mithter Fluffy'. I'll see you in the morning."

And off he'd go.

We set Tank free late yesterday afternoon.

We made a promise to him that as long as there was a chance we'd fight, but we loved him enough to let him go.

We kept that promise.

Although Tank went into remission in August, he'd never had a hard one. In other words, it was only the chemo keeping his lymphoma at bay. As the chemicals became less effective, his remission began slipping until on Wednesday Dr. LaDue told me he was completely out.

Tank had had a seizure that morning. Instead of going in as we were supposed to for chemo that afternoon, we were there within an hour. That's where Tank had a second seizure, in their parking lot.

Remember that medical drama on television where there's some sort of emergency and you see personnel crash through doors to render assistance? Doctors, assistants, techs and I don't know who the heck else came running, or running as well as some of them could while pushing a rolling stretcher in case it was needed.

When Tank came back around he walked in under his own power, wagging his tail. But he was struggling.

We could go to another protocol but it only had a 60 to 80 percent chance of getting him back into remission, and this one would only last six to eight weeks. Maybe twelve if it worked at all.

Why put him through anything more than he already had been. So that we could have him for a little while longer in exchange for him going through this all over again?

I already knew the answer, but said I had to talk to Hubby and Da Kid. I'd confirm the next day.

Janet, the tech who'd once been able to finally lure Tank away from my side and down the hallway to the treatment area by using McDonald's french fries, was in tears as she helped me get him back in my car and slipped her home phone number into my hand.

Michelle, Tank's "Chicken and Rice" tech, gave me her home phone number, too.

If Tank or I needed anything. "ANYTHING!"

We went ahead with his last dose of chemo under the old protocol anyway, hoping it would give him a little bounce back. Make it easier for him to breathe. Give him a chance to eat so we could give him anything he wanted. Love him and hold him and scritch his ears just a little while longer before we let him go.

It didn't work.

In one day he went from walking to not being able to, and the seizures increased.

I sat on the kitchen floor with Tank most of yesterday as he steadily got worse. He'd lap water and then try to bring it back up. He wouldn't eat anything. Couldn't as the lymph nodes under his neck continued to increase in size. His face had started to swell just like it had last August when all of this started, and it was starting to creep downward into his chest. He didn't want to dirty in the house, though, so he'd try to get up to head for the back door. He couldn't because when he got to his feet, he'd have a seizure.

Tank's bestest buddy in the whole entire world, Starbuck (The Wonderdog), was with us. He didn't know what was happening to his bestest buddy in the whole entire world. All he knew was that Tank was in trouble.

So like with fireworks that Tank was always afraid of, Starbuck laid as close to him as he could. Sometimes licking his face or his ears. Sometimes resting his head on Tank's hip. Sometimes Tank resting his head on Starbuck.

I'd called Dr. LaDue in the morning to let her know that we weren't going to pursue the new protocol. When she called later in the afternoon to see how Tank was doing, I told her we'd made arrangements to take Tank to Dr. "W" that afternoon. She seemed surprised that we were doing it this quickly until I described Tank's condition.

Early on Da Kid (Da Vet Tech) had insisted that when Tank's time came, to make it as easy as he could for him he'd put him down at home himself. We even have the "stuff" in the medicine cabinet. When the time came, however, he knew he just couldn't do it.

Dr. "W" would have come to the house but scheduling problems already an issue before Da Kid left two weeks ago, are now even worse. So after Da Kid went there to take care of all of the required paperwork, Tank got one last wide in da car, this one with his head resting on Da Kid's lap.

"Dr. ‘W' said Dr. LaDue called him yesterday about Tank. Mom, Dr. ‘W' said she broke down in the middle of the call."

Which didn't help matters with me. But I'm not allowed to cry because if I do it will upset Tank who gets really upset if I do so for him I can't. Dammit, not now. I won't.

"Not now," I order myself again. Hell, it had became almost a mantra months ago.

I pull in back, where the staff parks. Hubby pulls up in back of me.

Dr. "W" comes out. Carla, the tech who moved into Da Kid's senior spot when he left, follows.

Da Kid's crying. Hubby, Tank's Chosen-Person-For-Life, is there with him, too.

I know it's the right thing to do. The only thing to do. But I can not watch Tank die. I can't. I just can't.

So as Dr. ‘W' bends down into my car, I begin to walk away stealing one last glance at Tank. And his head is up. He's looking at me. Straight at me.

Hubby may be Tank's C-P-F-L and Da Kid his two-legged brother. It's not that he didn't love me, he did. But I was always his #3 unless he was sick or scared. Then he went back to being what he always really has been: Mama's Baby.

And he was not only sick. He was scared, too. Very scared because something is wrong. Very wrong. Bad wrong. He doesn't know what it is but he knows something has to be ‘cause Da Kid is crying.

Hubby's not doing much better. Carla's crying. And Dr. ‘W' isn't far from it. And they're all around him.

I reach through to scritch his ears and stroke his head. "It's okay, baby. Everything's fine. Mama's still here."

I keep doing that and saying that. He's looking at me. I'm looking at him. Tank's head slowly goes down, then finally relaxes completely. As I pull my hand away, I close his eyes.

Goodnight, Mithter Fluffy. I'll see you on the other side.

LATER (01-22-06):

After saying "Not now!" for months because it would have upset Tank, I no longer had a reason to keep myself from crying. I turned into a complete and total waterworks starting Friday morning when I took Starbuck out.

We'd buried Tank next to Lucky (Son of a Bitch) Lab, his father, the night before, wrapped in his Labrador retriever (it has pictures of Labs on it) blanket and "Daddy's Wobe," the bathrobe of Hubby's that Tank had appropriated years before when it fell off the bed one night to lie upon. We also sent him off — as we always do — with things that were his and his alone: feed bowl (with feed, treats and a couple bottles of water for his journey) and toys.

Tank had gone off his feed for days when Lucky and later Shadow (his brother) "disappeared." He didn't know where they were and kept looking, sure he'd find them. I didn't want to go through the same thing with Starbuck, so I took him out to see Tank one last time, then brought him back in before Hubby and Da Kid folded Tank's blanket closed.

The next morning, Friday morning, Starbuck zoomed out the door to the last place he'd seen Tank but, of course, he wasn't there anymore. So Starbuck started running all over the place, following his nose picking up traces of Tank's scent everywhere but always going back to the last place he'd seen him. Then starting in all over again.

Thar she blows!

Starbuck, who never wants to come back in, beat me to the back door ‘cause that's where his nose had lead him several times so since he couldn't find Tank anywhere outside, he was sure he'd find him inside!

Only one bowl of feed (here they came again) to fix . . . and on and on all day. Those things that are so much a habit you don't think about it until it hits you. There's no reason to do that anymore. Or the normal sounds that seem strangely louder now not because you actually hear them, but their deafening absence.

Yesterday was better. Today? Who knows.

Thank you, all. Not just for replying here but the times many of you did while we were on this journey with words of encouragement, celebration and now . . .

Just thanks.


Promises to keep
Things I've learned along the way
Every day is a good one
Invisible dog food
Week Five
Week Four
Week Three
Week Two -- Part Three.
Week Two -- Part Two (We begin).
Week Two -- Part One.
Week One.


Blogger Mark said...

I'm so sorry, Doyle.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


10:02 PM  
Anonymous gekko said...

I hate that they do this to us. Rainbow bridge, kiddo. Big hugs.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

My condolences, Doyle.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Dwayne Clark said...

sorry for your loss..he was a special friend I am sure...


10:21 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

I'm so sorry, Doyle. We lost our furry son to Lymphosarcoma in October. It is still hard. We miss him terribly. I know this is not easy for you. My thoughts are with you.

11:37 AM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

My condolences as well, Doyle.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is. We'll be thinking of you and yours and Tank.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Asbestos Dust said...

Been there, done that. More than once. I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am you had to do this and the pain you must be in now. It WILL get better and, for whatever it's worth, you did the right thing, and you did it the right way. I know you think it was the other way 'round, but Tank was a lucky dog to have you.


2:41 AM  
Blogger LindaSoG said...

Oh Doyle. I am so very very sorry for your loss.

8:59 AM  
Blogger GUYK said...

I'm so sorry Doyle. I am sitting here crying for you and for me because I know that I will probably be doing the same thing with Miss Sassy Poodle before too much longer.

10:19 AM  
Blogger pamibe said...

Words cannot convey how sorry I am to hear this. {{{Hugs}}}

Godspeed, Tank. You put up a heckuva fight; time to play with your friends at the Bridge...

I'm going to go love on my elderly furkid now...

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Eliska said...

Jim, Igloo, Peabody, Cinnamon and I send our condolences, Donna. So sorry for your loss.


4:12 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Oh, I'm crying along with you just now.

It's so hard to let them go when it's time.

I have to keep believing that they'll be waiting for us somehow.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous anghara said...

Oh, Donna.


9:57 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm sorry, Donna. So very sorry.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Donnah said...

It's so hard. They just don't live long enough.

9:47 PM  
Blogger SinisterBaby said...

That's so sad, Donna. I have a tear in my eye.

Rob :-(

8:05 AM  
Blogger PJ said...

Sorry sweetie ... Tank was such a cool dog and I know his loss is awful for you. Big hugs.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went through exactly the same thing with my Shao Ming. It ended for him at home the day before last Thanksgiving. I wish for Tank the same thing I wish for my beloved puppy: May he find all the best bones in good boy heaven. And I'm crying my head off as I type this.

Bless you.

Bill Quick
The Daily Pundit

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Jordan said...

I know it's not easy, but always remember that you gave him your best and he knew it. Rest easy knowing that he's with his father and brother now, and he's waiting patiently for the rest of you. Give Starbuck an extra scritch from me.

4:20 PM  
Blogger David Gillies said...

My yellow lab Gus died of lymphoma when I was seven. That was thirty years ago. I still miss him. Sometimes I have dreams of the last long walk we had, when we knew he was ill but were still hoping against hope that the beta-interferon (then an experimental treatment) would kick in and save him. I know what you're going through, and you have all my best wishes.

11:59 AM  

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