About three weeks before our little dog, Delilah, died, I had a dream. In the dream, I was sitting outside on our front step, having a cigarette with Sam. (No, I don’t smoke anymore.) He was on his phone talking to someone and he was charging his phone while he talked on it. He had an absurdly long charging cord. I’m talking about a length that I’m sure that they don’t make because, in the dream, he could literally walk around our whole yard. There were times where he would walk over to the other side of our garage and kind of hide out in the big lilac bush when he wanted his conversation to be more private. It was during one of those times that Delilah ran out of the house and discovered him in the bushes. He was a little perturbed because she was barking and carrying on since she was so happy to see him and also because she had outed him in his hiding spot. Finally, he bent down to pet her and said, “Hi, Delilah. I know, I miss you, too. Yes, I love you, too.”
I remember thinking at the time (we didn’t know that Delilah was sick at all) that he was telling me that he was still here with us, attached by a really long (figuratively speaking) cord. Then weeks later, when Delilah got really sick, I started thinking that while maybe that was true, perhaps he was really trying to warn me that she was coming to find him. Then she did. On February 27, one year and 8 days after Sam died, we had to make the difficult decision to put Delilah to sleep.
Cali, our black lab, was Sam’s baby. I mean, she belonged to the family, but he was her boy and she was his baby. He took her on walks with him down to the creek by our house. He took her to the Mississippi river with him when he went there, too. He trained her and he played with her. It was he who named her. Cali. Short for California. The place he always wanted to go and never got the chance to experience.
By default, because she loved him so much, she also loved his friends just as much. She would jump all over them whenever they came over. When it got to be too much, he would say, “Cali, get where you go!” And she would run and lay down under the table or the bench seat in our kitchen. It was her refuge.
About 2 months ago, I told Jason that I thought something was wrong with Cali. She was drinking way more than normal and, consequently, she was having accidents in the house. He didn’t really agree with me until she stopped eating. We brought her to the vet and they ran some tests, including two biopsies of her lymph glands in her neck and her hindquarters. Initially the blood work was normal, but the biopsies came back positive for lymphoma. Cali had cancer. We were devastated.
For awhile we contemplated doing either chemotherapy or prednisone or a combination of the two. Chemotherapy would not have cured her, it would have only extended her life for 6-8 months. That would have given us another death around the time that we already face the anniversary of our greatest loss. Also, it would have meant bringing her to the vet once a month for blood work and she was extraordinarily terrified of the vet. We couldn’t see doing that to her. Then it becomes more about what is best for us and not what is best for her. Plus, the cost was also pretty prohibitive. Prednisone would have alleviated her pain to some degree, but it would also have increased her thirst and her accidents. We didn’t think that was fair, either. So, since she wasn’t acting sick, and, as soon as we brought her to the vet, she started eating again, we decided to just wait and let her tell us when it was time. She was still happy and active and played hard when she wasn’t sleeping.
A couple weeks ago, she started showing signs that she wasn’t doing so well. While playing fetch, her legs would give out. She would have a hard time getting up from the floor or getting down from the couch or bed. Her legs started to just randomly give out, too, in the last few days, and she was in increasingly more pain. Listening to her cry out in pain is more than we could take, so we made the decision that it was time. Since we couldn’t fathom bringing her to the vet for her last few moments on earth, we decided to have them come to us. If you have to face the end of life for a beloved pet, I suggest that you look into this in your area. It was a beautiful experience, in as much as it can be, and it was peaceful and humane. In Minnesota, we used Minnesota Pets. They came out and we all sat in the grass and petted her while she went to sleep and took her last breaths.
Today, she went where she belongs. And we lost another piece of our Sam. But, she belongs with her boy. Run and play and kiss his face for us. We’ll miss you, Cali-girl.