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Light bulbs die my sweet. I will depart. - Magorium

Journey’s End

Harmony and I became Tripawd members on October 21st. Her, for physical reasons; me, for emotional reasons.

The surgeon called us on the 22nd to tell us that she was doing so well, we could pick her up. We were both happy and sad at the same time; excited to see her but terrified at seeing her. To prepare, I did what was suggested by looking at all the post-surgical images on Tripawds to help desensitize myself. I’m so glad I did, it made a huge difference in my emotional state when I laid eyes on her. The hub-a-dub wasn’t so fortunate. It was like someone reached in and pulled his heart out.

Thank goodness for the doggie t-shirt on her so we wouldn’t be startled by her incisions, but I took a peek later and was shocked by its size. She also had one on her abdomen from her spleen removal and one on top of her head where they removed another tumor. Just for a split second, I chuckled to myself about Frankenweenie. Reality soon set in as I began to survey the roadmap of shaved fur and endless staples. I felt my heart twist and turn as I looked into her perfect eyes and whispered, “I’m so sorry my love. Please forgive me.” All the while, her tail never stopped wagging. I think I could have taken it better if she was mad at me. Nope, nope, not her.

On the drive home, she kept her head out the window with her ears flopping in the wind. The hub-a-dub sat by her side and wept.

We got home and nervously watched and coddled her hopping up the sidewalk. She stopped at the outside water bowl and drank like she needed to wash down a box of saltines. It made me feel good to see her back to some semblance of normality.

I was terrified.

Because of our work situation, I was to stay home with her for the next 5 days. Again, worth repeating, I was terrified. There was so much that could have gone wrong and yet didn’t. I should have trusted her to guide me. She ate when she wanted, drank when she was thirsty and pottied when she needed to. Why was I so nervous? I guess I assumed she would react to surgery like we humans do.

“Be more dog.” I get it now.

As the days progressed, Harmony’s abdomen began to swell. I mentioned this in an on-going conversation via email with the surgeon who repeated an earlier factoid of the cancer having spread to her liver. He said he was hoping that once we got her started on chemo her liver would get better thereby addressing any future fluid buildup. In the meantime, if she got too uncomfortable they could drain the fluid.

It got worse, Harmony got worse. Before they could get her staples out the surgeon felt we needed to get her in sooner and start her chemo immediately. Her poor belly was the size of a watermelon. We create what we fear. The hub-a-dub was out of town on business, again. Fortunately for me I have the most wonderful friends, one of which used to be a vet tech. She actually took the day off work to help me get Harmony to her appointment. God bless her.

The oncologist was young and looked just like Harmony’s namesake. She sat in the floor with me and Harmony and painted a very realist portrait of Harmony’s chances. The odds weren’t good, but how could I look down at this angelic face who’s trying to get everyone’s attention and not give her that chance? So we left her there to get the fluid drawn and start her first round of chemo.

When we returned to pick her up, she burst through the doors pulling the vet tech. They had drained 2.5 liters off her belly. Oh my gosh! No wonder she was so miserable!

I was so happy! She looked like she felt like a million dollars. How could I have doubted her drive and will to beat all the odds? We got her in the car and decided it was time to celebrate. We stopped and got her a cheeseburger where she immediately woofed it down without swallowing. That was the absolute best 5 seconds, EVER.

At home, she stopped for water and a potty break and laid down to rest. She looked like she felt so much better. When the hub-a-dub got home he was amazed. However, the next morning would be the last time she would eat anything. It was a quick trip downhill from there.

November 1st, Saturday morning, two days after her visit, two days after the best cheeseburger in the world Harmony became severely lethargic. The hub-a-dub and I decided to take her for her very last car ride and maybe entice her with another glorious cheeseburger. Reality was setting in as she wouldn’t even raise her head off the car seat.

None-the-less, we took her riding all over town, but she never once attempted to move. When we got home we knew she was getting ready to leave us. We made the most comfortable pallet on the floor and placed her on it. The hub-a-dub stayed right by her side. It wasn’t long before she took her last breath.

Good-bye my sweet, my love, my heart.

Over the years I’ve read and witnessed the terminally ill who typically have one great day just before their departure from this world. Never, ever did I think it was the same in the animal world. It’s as if God gives us that one moment in time, a comfort, clarity, free from worry, where we can let our cherished loved ones know how much we love them and vice versa. It was no different with Harmony. On that one day of reprieve, she wasn’t in pain which afforded me the chance to feed her the best cheeseburger in the world.

My only regret through our entire journey is that I didn’t feed her the bun too.

5 Comments

  1. jerry

    Oh Pam, that bright, shining star called “Harmony” will always be guiding us. What an amazing pup.

    Your courage and beautiful way of sharing her short journey leaves me awestruck. Thank you for being so brave and opening your heart to starting a blog. 11 days is way, way too short but by sharing so much of her journey both before, during and after, you are showing members that there IS life after all stages of this ordeal. Harmony taught you so well.

    {{{{hugs}}}}

  2. Jeanne McMillan

    Pam,
    I am very sorry for your loss. I had to deal with the same situation recently myself. It is so hard to say goodbye to a dog. It takes a piece of your heart everytime. they just aren’t here long enough with us.

    • harmony

      Thank you so much Jeanne. I’m so sorry for your loss as well. It’s one of those things that has to be accepted up front when thinking about getting a furbaby, their time will most likely come before ours. (heavy sigh)

  3. Zac and Layla

    I’m very sorry for your loss 🙁
    When you mentioned Harmony in your comment I was certain I’d find happy stories about another wonderful lab mix – but this story wasn’t so happy after all 🙁
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us <3
    And you are right – Harmony did look just like Zac 🙂
    Stay strong! <3
    Steph

    • harmony

      Steph,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Harmony was our love, our heart and we miss her every day. Black Labs are just the best aren’t they!? We knew we wanted to get another one for Melody (she was having nightmares after Harmony’s passing), but we didn’t think we were ready for another one quite yet until we saw Meesha (a hoarder rescue) online and knew it was time to open our hearts. She’s not pure lab like Harmony was, but she’s definitely pure heart and that’s good enough for us.
      Again, thank you for your words of encouragement.<3
      Pam

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