Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Puppy Remembered

It has taken me longer than I anticipated to write this post. Almost 2 months to be exact.

On September 14, 2010, at 9:40pm, I let my puppy go. Or rather, I think she let me go. She had fought bone cancer for 6.5 months and her little body was tired and her spirit was down. She was ready. Or at least I hope she was.

Her rib tumor was growing in size and I knew she was uncomfortable. She was not eating at all. On her last day I struggled to get her to eat 1 tsp of oatmeal. Her limp was overwhelming and I knew. I had made an appointment for the vets that evening to have her evaluated, to see if it were time. I did not go in thinking I was putting my baby to sleep, but in the back of my mind, I knew I was not walking out with her.

Lola despised car rides. Most car rides led to the vets, so she hated riding in cars the final months of her life. This night was no different. She sat on my lap, her head resting on my shoulder. I could see the worry in her eye and I just did my best to hold her tight and soak in every second.

At the vets, they had blankets laid out on the floor in anticipation that she would be put to sleep that night. Oddly enough, Lola walked into the room and immediately laid down; something she normally wouldn't do. It was at that moment that I finally thought "She is so tired and in so much pain, she wants to be set free.".

I laid with her in the room for about 1.5 hours. I covered her with one of her favorite blankets from home. I petted her. I tried to memorize every inch, every line of her body in those final moments. I told her how much I loved her and would miss her and how very sorry I am that her life was cut so short.

Around 9:30pm, the vet came in and begin to set Lola free. At 9:40pm, her heart stopped, and so did mine. There she lay, limp, lifeless, but free of the body that failed her. I kissed her on her nose and finally said "Thank you for being my puppy, have a safe journey.", looked at her for the last time and finally walked out.

I thought it would be easier, or at least get easier, not having her in my life. However, I was not prepared for the deep sorrow I feel and the overwhelming grief I feel at her absence. I miss her like crazy.

I still talk to her from time to time. I often look at her pictures. And I still tell her I love her.

I don't regret having Lola, even if for only 19 months. I don't regret the cost and time involved in fighting her cancer. My only regret is that she had to suffer in her short life.

If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Grace of a Puppy

I spend most of my free time with Lola in her final weeks. It has allowed me plenty of opportunities to study her and see the things I didn't bother to notice before. I have come to realize what grace she has. She is slowly, well, actually, quickly, dying inside, but yet she finds the new in everything. She carries herself as if today is not her last day. She gains interest in the slightest thing as if everything is wondrous. But most importantly, she acts so brave. My dog is a shining example of grace and how to capture each moment and make the most of each day.

I often wonder if she realizes how dire her condition is. There is a part of me that hopes she never realizes what horrible disease has attacked her body. She doesn't have to live with the knowledge that today could be her last. However, there is a flip side to this. She is so unsuspecting and that breaks my heart. Breaks my heart to know that this spunky little girl is living on borrowed time, and she doesn't even know it.

My puppy has grace. She is grace, my saving grace. Puppies can really make everything better. I truly believe that. I don't think it is Chicken Soup for the Soul, but rather, Puppies for the Soul.

Friday, August 13, 2010

10 Things I Learned from Lola

  1. Always greet those you love with excitement, it never gets old
  2. It is never too early or too late to play
  3. Eating on a regular schedule, in controlled portions, is great for the waste line
  4. A kiss can really say it all
  5. Saying I'm sorry immediately after a 'wrong' is a good thing
  6. Sometimes it's OK to chase the birds and be free
  7. You can never have too much snuggle time
  8. A best friend can be furry and on all fours
  9. It is easy to fall in love, but very difficult to fall out
  10. Life really is too short

Her Name is Lola...

Lola. The word alone brings a smile to my face. Lola is my saving grace, my muse, my laughter and the love of my life. She's also my puppy. Well, not exactly a puppy, but at 1 year and 8 months, she will always be a puppy to me.
Lola has terminal cancer.
So please indulge me if my posts for now tend to sway more towards Lola and what she is going through vs running.

Seven months ago Lola was diagnosed with bone cancer. Osteosarcoma of the ribs to be more precise. It is typically a deadly disease that strikes larger dogs and/or older dogs.
She was 15 months old and 30lbs. My options were limited. I was given the choice of letting her go gracefully, which all I heard was "30 days to live", or I could be more aggressive and see what kind of miracle she was. I opted for the miracle, perhaps the selfish route.

On March 3, Lola had 3 ribs removed, followed by 6 rounds of chemo, which ended in June. Prognosis for dogs with bone cancer, who opt for surgery + chemo, is usually death within a year. But she was so young and healthy otherwise. Her oncologist and myself were hopeful that if anyone could persevere, it was Lola.

With her last round of chemo in June, she was given a diagnosis of "remission". Her lungs were clear, her blood work perfect. Aside from her spare ribs (I nicknamed the wire mesh that took the place of her ribs "her spare ribs"), one would never know Lola was fighting for her life. It was a breath of fresh air to be finally done with week in and week out of vet visits. Lola could be free to be and to play and to heal.

In late July, I felt another lump on her ribs. My breath caught and I thought "oh no". It was quickly determined the lump was bone cancer. Back in March, I had promised Lola we would go the invasive  route only once. I wouldn't put her through it again. I kept to my word and two weeks after finding lump #2, I am watching the life drain from my puppy.

She is night & day from how she was one month ago. She doesn't want to eat. She limps. She can't "run like a fast girl". She lost the "puppy" from her. She's 20 months old and can't chase the birds or lay comfortably on her left side (her lump side). Life was taken from her.

The oncologist has said "4 weeks". I can't even quite type what will occur in about 4 weeks, all I can say is "4 weeks".

It is very painful watching her fade. Selfishly, I need her. I can't imagine life without her. Then there is the guilt. The guilt I couldn't save her. The guilt of having put her through the past 6 months of being poked & prodded by vets.

She saved me and I couldn't save her. I can't quite get over that.

New Blog

Feeling in a new spot in my life, I decided to start a new blog. I was previously known as Jana's Joint, but have since decided to renew myself and my blog. The bloggers the same, just a new joint.

I will primarily talk about running and my attempt at running upright versus laying helpless on the sidewalk, but there will be times when I stray from topic and discuss things that impact my running or my life in general. Like my muse, Lola.