Sunday, August 5, 2012

Prayers for Willie

I will be away from the blogging world for a bit.....seems as though the universe has something else in mind for me.

My beautiful dog, who I was just talking about in the last post, developed a severe infection in his front leg at the elbow night before last. He has spent the last year battling osteosarcoma and while I am sure his body has struggled to combat this nasty disease, you would never have known he was ill except for days when he limped because he had over done it the day before. So it has never been an outward, appearing battle. Just a nagging, underlying worry always on my mind, because quite honestly I cannot imagine my life without him.

The infection developed in his healthy leg and it is extensive. He had to spend the night at the vet office with IV fluids and antibiotics. Thankfully his fever is down and he is responding to the antibiotics but the tissue damage from the infection is quite severe. He will return to the vet on Monday for some wound care and a  dressing change and a reassessment of his situation. We will have to weigh some things and make a decision that is best for my precious boy. These are always the hardest decisions to arrive at.

I know that I should be grateful that he has survived his cancer and has been given an extended quality of life that even the veterinarians cannot explain for more than a year. Most dogs succumb to this cancer fairly quickly. But I don't think any amount of time with this dog could ever be enough. His gentle nature, spirit and loving companionship, not to mention his seemingly passionate desire to survive, is simply impossible for me to ignore. I am in awe of this amazing dog who gives so much and asks for so little in return.

We left him yesterday at the vets which was a little difficult. I was afraid he might take a turn for the worse and possibly die without the comfort of his family around him, but I  knew he was in good hands. I said my prayers and went to bed early last night knowing when we picked him up in the morning, it would be a long weekend.

I got him home and he immediately began to perk up. He ate chicken and took all of his meds and has been a perfect patient all day. So far it has been a lot of work, mostly laundering sheets and comforters ensuring he is on clean, comfy bedding. The easy part is loving him; lying next to him with an arm around him and stroking his beautiful, heavy, black coat. His breathing changes the moment he is touched and it is obvious he feels loved and comforted. He is content...

My bed is made up alongside of his and I will spend the night listening to his every breath. He is comfy and content and occasionally tries to reach for my hand so that I will lay my hand on the side of his head. He has always needed that extra comfort of our touch. Even the first night after we brought him home from the humane society 7years ago, he slept next to to my two daughters and I with his arms wrapped around all of ours.

I don't know much about his life prior to becoming a member of our family except that he was a dog that kept running away from his home. I feel so fortunate that we found him and that his beautiful, big brown eyes pleaded with us that day 7 yrs ago, to take him home. It was a decision that has changed us all forever.

From watching him score goals with our air hockey table (seriously, this dog could play air hockey, but he would run off with the pucks after he scored), to hearing him run up the stairs during the night because the wind came up,(my husband and I would start laughing in the middle of the night, this 100 lb dog was terrified of wind),  to opening presents on Christmas morning with us with a childlike quality and excitement, hiking and so many other activities--he fully participated in all family events. He has brought us much joy and laughter and now, more recently tears. He is a member of our family and we love him! It seems so unfair that he can fight cancer so bravely and then become ill with an unrelated infection.

I am hoping for the best but in my heart I know that we may have some hard decisions to make over the next couple of days. But for this moment, I will not give up hope. He is fighting for his life and I want him to feel that I am right beside him.  I will hold his paw all night, listen to each breath and provide the same unconditional love and support that he has given me over the past several years.....because he is family and he could not be loved more.

"He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that can hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being, by the way he leans against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. Without him I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurt. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me....whenever...wherever--in case I need him. And I expect I will--as I always have. He is just my dog."
Gene Hill