I posted yesterday that I would be heading to the vet with Jane as soon as they could get me in. We were given an appointment time of eleven fifteen. I had been having a really difficult time with the fear that I wouldn’t know when to take Jane to be assisted to the Bridge. Her breathing was getting worse daily. But she was still alert, still eating, still walking around, still wagging her tail. She’d had cancer for two years, and there had been three surgeries to debulk the tumor on her leg. I had been told at one point that it appeared Jane’s cancer was spreading and that one place it might be was in her lungs. And just over a week ago, it became apparent that her lungs were, in fact, involved. I kept worrying that I would keep her around too long. I didn’t want to wait until she was struggling for every breath. But I certainly couldn’t take her in for euthanasia if she seemed normal in every way except for her increasingly noisy and more rapid breathing. Every day I hoped I would know when to go.
I checked on Jane yesterday morning, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw that nearly all of her previous evening’s meal was still in the bowl. I had been sitting on the floor in her room with her Tuesday night, petting her and talking to her. So when I left her to eat (and she ALWAYS ate), I just assumed she would finish off that meal. I knew it wasn’t a good sign that she hadn’t eaten. But now she walked slowly to the outside door so I thought she might like to spend a little time outside in the grass. It was cloudy and still somewhat cool so early in the morning. Unfortunately, Jane could only take three or four steps before she needed to sit down to rest. Being outside seemed to make her worse, so I carried her back in. Her breathing didn’t sound any more labored than it had been the previous couple of days. When I called for the appointment I said that I wanted to see if there was any medication that might ease Jane’s breathing – anything that might make her more comfortable. Even when I was saying that on the phone, I knew I was pushing it. Jane was exhausted. But I couldn’t bring myself to say that we were ready for the end.
I guess it was ultimately a blessing. By 9am Jane’s breathing had changed. I sat beside her and talked to her and listened to those lungs. I contacted Office Worker T and asked if there was an earlier time for me to come in – even if I had to wait once I got there. She said for me to come on in. That half hour drive turned into a nightmare. Jane’s breathing continued to get progressively worse. She actually started blacking out as she struggled now to get any air at all. I kept talking to her, kept petting her with my right hand while driving with my left. NOW she was suffering. She couldn’t focus on anything I was saying. It looked like she was in a panic. And who wouldn’t be while trying not to suffocate.
I called the front desk from the parking lot and asked if Jane and I could stay in the vehicle. Office Worker A came out. She said she would get Dr. C to me asap. As I sat with Janie, knowing we had reached the end, I saw that some very dark clouds were building just to the north. I told Janie that a storm was coming. I told her not to worry. I told her Tarzan would be waiting for her, and probably Jack, too. Dr. C came out and gave the injection to put Jane into a deep relaxation. He told Jane it wouldn’t be long before she wouldn’t have to pull for every breath. A few raindrops hit my front windshield. Jane’s breathing did NOT relax with the injection, but Jane did – she finally lay down on the seat that I had reclined for her.
Her passing was peaceful. I had my head down, my face close to hers, and I told her I loved her. Then that horrible breathing stopped. I burst into tears. Dr. C gave me a hug and told me how sorry he was. I thanked him and he headed in just before the rain hit.
Driving home, it rained so hard I could barely see to drive. It was fitting, matching my emotional state completely. There was something comforting in not being able to hear myself crying over the sound of the pouring rain. My Janie Dog. Sweet, sweet Jane. My brave girl. As have all of the others, she took a piece of my heart with her when she left.
Jane – Farewell.