My 13 and 1/2 year old Lab, Sanchez, has been recovering from an E. coli infection. It was touch and go for awhile. While I was waiting for lab results back after a few weeks of treatment, I didn’t know whether he just needed a diet change or if it was to be our final days together. I was on a complete emotional roller coaster.
Truthfully, his care was really hard. I didn’t know how much more I could endure of making all of his meals, giving him subcutaneous fluids daily, and barely leaving the house in case he needed my help.
I had already decided I wouldn’t take any measures to prolong his life if his quality of life wasn’t likely to improve. I stopped in my tracks when a friend said, “Lisa, you have to remember that your quality of life is just as important.”
In all honesty, I hadn’t considered my quality of life. Caring for senior dogs is not for the faint of heart. But, I signed up for the long haul when I adopted him as s a youngster. And, I’m one of the lucky ones. 13 and a half is a long life for a large Lab.
It’s hard for me to admit, but in all honesty, I felt guilty when I sometimes thought about how much easier my life would be if I only had Gina to take care for. I craved our old lifestyle, when Sanchez so willingly went for walks with us and enjoyed a very mobile lifestyle. On top of those feelings, I had some important trips coming up, and I didn’t know how I was going to leave Sanchez in someone else’s care, given his current state.
I’ve been through it before, so I know how painful and simultaneously precious the end of life is with our beloved dogs. I don’t want to miss that time with Sanchez. And, I’d rather choose to be a week early on that decision than a day late. But, how could I make that decision based on my lifestyle needs and travel schedule?
The truth is that caring for him in such a tender state has increased our bond and strengthened our relationship. It’s been hard, but it’s time that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I feel more connected to him than ever.
Fortunately, he showed me that it’s just not his time yet. I’m very happy to report that he is on a complete trajectory of improved health. Not only were his lab results very encouraging, but he’s back to his normal weight again, getting out of the house more (as am I), going for short walks, asking for tummy rubs many times a day, giving kisses again, and chewing on dog bones (and even went digging for one outside). He’s just about back to his old normal self.
And, he’s also well enough to be at home with Gina and a dog sitter while I’m performing at the Nature-Based Therapeutics Conference in Minneapolis. It’s the first of three trips, and I was surprised that it wasn’t as hard to leave him as I expected.
I’m eternally grateful for his recovery and renewed health. And, I’m well aware that every day with him is a gift. I know it’s only a matter of time before I have to re-consider both of our lifestyles if his health fails again. But, for now, he’s reminding me to be present and enjoy our time together.