Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mixed Emotions

Piper's death went as well as can be expected. I fed her ribs before the vet showed up and she ate both the meat and the bones. We lay Piper down in the grass out in the yard, and it was over a lot faster than I expected. Gato was the same. There was so much anticipation that it felt like the process should have been more drawn out. We buried her out in the back yard, in an area near where we'll likely want to plant a tree this fall. Until then I plan on mounting a lantern over her grave, and lighting it once a month.
 
There's an absence, for sure, but in a weird way. Piper had been so intrinsically wrapped in our lives, I kind of feel like I'm not grieving enough. But then Carrie and I have both been in some level of mourning since she was diagnosed with diabetes. The initial grief then was pretty intense. We moved past it, but there was never really a moment in the past seven years that we didn't feel she was likely to pass away at any time. There were a few times in those years that she took a temporary turn, or we had trouble regulating her insulin, that it came back on me. But for the most part, beyond the tedium of regularity in feeding, she went pretty easy on us. Or at least that's how I prefer to remember it.
 
When we made the call that it was time to put her to sleep, that level of sadness was crushing. For the days leading up to it I managed to hold it together for the most part. There were moments, though, when I crumbled. So, yeah, her actual death came with a level of relief commensurate with having grieved, on and off, for almost seven years.
 
Maybe that why, less than a week after the feact, I still think about Piper, and think I see or hear her, but not as much as I expect I should. And that makes me feel guilty. But still relieved. And also glad that we could do as well as we did for her.

 
 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Piper

We weren't too sure what to expect with moving Piper to the new house. She lost most of her sight and hearing at the old place, but could still rely on muscle memory or something to navigate the place without too much trouble. There was some stiffness there too, but pretty minor. Since we've moved the stiffness has gotten worse and she spends almost all of her days sleeping. Her sight and hearing are bad enough that she bumps into things a lot, and even at the whistle pitches she can hear, she often misinterprets where it's coming from. We've been pretty lucky that she's only had two accidents in the house. On top of that her joints have been giving her enough trouble that we recently had to elevate her food bowl, since she was having trouble with what appeared to be her front legs and bending over to it. This weekend I opened a can of food, Piper sniffed at it, and then wandered off and went to sleep. She eventually came back around and nibbled a little bit, but left it alone for the most part. Since then she's been erratic with how much and when she eats. Today we stopped giving her the canned food and switched over to tasty things like eggs and pork chops and steak. Her current condition, coupled with diabetes, this is not sustainable. The last time I took her to the vet was over two years ago, when she had started losing weight. At that time the vet suggested we keep an eye on her, and that when her quality of life started to decline, then we could make a decision. We've decided to get ahead of impending, potentially painful, health issues and have scheduled a vet to come out to the house on Thursday evening. Carrie got Piper in October of 2001. She went through obedience training and came out the other end one super well-behaved. She was my companion on more desert walks than I can count. When she was diagnosed at 7 with diabetes in 2008 we were told the average lifespan after that was 3-5 years. She's beat that handily. We even credit that diagnosis and the proceeding management with (in a small way) preparing us for kids. She would have turned 14 sometime in August. Piper's been the best dog I've ever known and I'm going to miss her a ton.