It happened so fast. Much faster than I could have ever prepared myself for. The crumbling of my heart. The outpouring of every tear in my body. The overwhelming pain. The onset of total devastation as I said goodbye to the most loving soul I’ve ever known.
Orestes, my basset hound, was as happy as any 8-year old pup this time 2 weeks ago. Aside from glaucoma that left him blind in one eye, he was quite fit, trim, and healthy. He would get excited for walks, eat as though he’d never known a better meal, sleep without a care in the world, and love my fiance and I unconditionally. He loved to sleep on his stuffed raccoon, Merle. And he became especially well-mannered for the promise of a snausage, beggin’ strip, or a few fallen crumbs from the dinner table.
But then he began to eat less and less, until he just stopped eating altogether. Instead of hugs, he gave us piles of vomit and puddles of urine to clean up. We’ve seen this before. “He’ll get over this,” we thought. Basset hounds are very “nosy” dogs, and love to eat random garbage from the street. Give them a day or two and they’ll purge it out eventually. We weren’t so convinced by day 4 as he began to lie on the couch for hours without so much as a flinch, and no longer expressed interest in anything. We’d already made a vet appointment, but moved it up to the following day when we realized his body was turning yellow.
We carried him in because he could no longer walk on his own without dragging the lifeless hind portion of his body. The Dr. didn’t seem overly concerned about Orestes’ symptoms, but took some blood and an x-ray to be sure. We were called into the exam room 10 minutes later with the news: an inflamed abdominal region that displaced his intestines up toward his spine, and a swollen spleen. A serious matter no doubt, but one we all hoped could be solved with some simple antibiotics or minor surgical intervention. So off we went to the doggie hospital for an ultrasound and formal diagnosis.
Severe, life-threatening pancreatitis, and potentially cancerous tumors on his spleen.
We were given the news by an internal medicine specialist. She wanted to keep him in the hospital for at least a week to run endless diagnostics. There is no cure to pancreatitis. They could only offer “supportive care.” In other words: he would have to suffer through excruciating pain with little more than basic pain meds and IV fluids. On top of that, there was a likelihood that he wouldn’t even be able to recover. The tumors complicated the situation even more. We just couldn’t put him through that kind of cruel agony.
It hasn’t even been a week and I miss him so much. I know that I will one day be able to reflect on memories of O. with love and happiness. For now, I’m just trying to glue all the pieces of my shattered heart together.