Every death is different, just like every birth. Lola’s breathing is labored. She is having trouble walking. She won’t eat. Normally an attention whore, she wants space. I know it is time.
I feel a peaceful white presence. I have felt this before when someone was near death. I cry because I miss her already. I will not see her little eyebrows, or wake up to her stealing food off the counter. I will not be able to feel her fur or smell her scent. And, at the same time, for her I feel peace.
Lola gave me the gift of redemption. I have lived with animals all my life and never have I felt such peace at the end.
She was perhaps the most challenging dog I ever had. She was big and hyper. I cannot count how many times she threw me on the ground during walks, or the bizarre items she would collect in her bed, or the constant indiscriminate need for attention (whether for good or bad you could not ignore her). Others would remark what “good people” we were for keeping her.
What they did not know was that she was our blessing. As a small puppy she had locked eyes with my mom in the pet emergency room. We had brought our other dog there and Lola was brought in by a good Samaritan. She had been hit by a car, her pelvis broken, yet she did not make a sound. (I later found out my mom quietly paid for her operation or else she would have had had to wait for a vet to volunteer.) Lola was put under the care of the humane society, but my mom gave them her information and said she would take her if she was not adopted. Lola recovered and was adopted and returned, twice. She had set her sights on my mom.
She was a quirky yet healthy dog until the age of 9. One day her belly started getting swollen. Her appetite went down a bit, but otherwise was her normal crazy self. We took her to the vet assuming she had digestive issues. They discovered her spleen had burst and she was bleeding internally. It took two vets and hours of surgery to remove her spleen and patch her up.
I prayed for her with all my heart and asked forgiveness for not understanding her. I promised that if she lived I would fully accept her as she was.
Lola had lost “gallons” of blood so the vet was surprised to find her walking around hours after surgery. They predicted she would not make another 24 hours due to the degree of her anemia. We took her home and made her liver congee, a postpartum recipe, and gave her herbs (I will post a case study on this later). She rebounded unbelievably. Lola had signs of Blood deficiency all her life (dryness and issues with her coat and skin, a pale tongue, timidity, etc). Here she was displaying a vitality like never before. She was like a puppy, despite the fact she was diagnosed with visceral (spleen and later heart) hemangiosarcoma.
I delighted when she stole bread off the counter or pulled on her walks. She was back!
I am grateful I was given 3 months to love her with an open heart. She taught me on a profound level not to fear cancer (which is how my last dog passed). Lola lived at least as long as she would have if she had undergone chemo, only in this case with an excellent quality of life. She had no discomfort until the last few hours of her life.
More than this, she gave me the opportunity to redeem myself and be the guardian she deserved. I had not been a bad owner, I had simply not recognized how amazing she was until the last 3 months of her life. Thank you for letting me see you, Lola.