It’s the small things

As everyone knows, Shasta, our dog, is slowly fading. She has more bad days now, but then she surprises us by almost being her spunky, happy self.  Sometimes, the smallest things make the largest difference in how we feel and how our pets feel.

The past couple of weeks have been hard. I even made “that” appointment with the vet. I actually went to see the vet, sans Shasta to see if I was making the right decision. I of course, was a blithering idiot. My vet, bless her, totally understood. See, the vet and I discussed this a few months back, when Shasta first started fading. The vet told me we would know when it was time.  I thought it was time a couple of weeks ago, but we (the Mr & I) just couldn’t go through with it.  Shasta was having a few of her spunky days.

Let me be absolutely clear on something – to our knowledge, Shasta is not in any pain (if she is, she’s not voicing it), she can still walk around without aid (albeit a lot slower now) and she still has control of her bodily functions. If she was suffering in any way, there would be no discussion, no wondering. It’s just her bad days outweigh her good days. Call me crazy, but I just can’t see “walking” her into the vet’s office, if you catch my drift.

So, we’ve played this “what do we do” game the past couple of weeks.  It’s been difficult. Flash forward to this weekend. Shasta didn’t eat at all Saturday or Sunday, (she’s on a rice/chicken diet now) and all she did was sleep.  She grudgingly went outside to do her business.  So, yesterday morning we decided if she didn’t eat yet again, we would make “that” appointment and follow-through.  We didn’t see any way around it this time.

Out of nowhere, the Mr decided he was going to give Shasta a bath. It’s been a long, wet winter and she really needed one, but his timing was strange.  Our well water is frightfully cold and he didn’t want to shock the poor girl out on the deck.  So he decided he was going to take her upstairs (she hasn’t been upstairs in over a month now) and bathe her. The problem is, we don’t have a tub, we have a lovely nice sized shower instead. With a little prodding, she made it up the first landing, but couldn’t get up the second part, so very carefully, the Mr picked her up and got her the rest of the way upstairs.  She headed to the bedroom, he had to herd her to the bathroom.

Our bathroom is not made for 2 people and a dog. Really, it isn’t. He carefully got her in the shower and then got in with her. I left them alone and closed the door. I could hear the Mr talking to her as he was giving her the bath (ok, shower). It was bittersweet. After a bit, I peeked my head in and saw that she was lying down, totally relaxed as the warm water and the Mr’s hands massaged and soothed her. It was lovely to see. While he had bathed her, I had gathered up her bedding and washed it. There is nothing better than being clean and sleeping in clean, fresh bedding…doesn’t matter if you’re human or canine.

As we were all coming out of the bathroom, I noticed the sun was streaming in through the bedroom window. I thought that would be a lovely place for her to relax.  I laid the down comforter that she decided she liked the last time she came upstairs (yes, a very expensive, bought in Germany comforter) under the window, and she laid down.  She stretched out in the sun and promptly went to sleep. She looked relaxed and peaceful. Life was good.

The Mr & I put her bed back together and he grilled some chicken for her. We went to town and came back to find her downstairs – tail wagging and spunky.  Amazing, right? Nope. She surprised us even more. She was hungry! The Mr fed her a piece of chicken (without the rice) and she gobbled it up. Later, I made her a proper dinner and she inhaled it. She was spunky, happy and her tail was going a mile a minute. She was Shasta again. Life was still good and gave us another day with her.

Who knew a warm bath, a nap in the sun and clean bedding would make her feel better and in turn, give her somewhat of an appetite and, us another day with her?  We know there aren’t many days like this left.

It’s the small things sometimes, that makes us all happy. I’m grateful.

  9 comments for “It’s the small things

  1. June 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Sherree,
    You share such a universal story as old as humanity. Dogs ARE our best and most faithful friends. Your words are intimate, loving, truthful, sad, yet filled with a trust that Shasta’s time with you will always give you powerful memories of her love and trust for you and your family. One thing for sure, I’m betting that after we all pass on, there will the wonderful music we love to hear, the sweet scent of our favorite flowers, the beautiful views of mountain tops and oceans, lots of ice cream…and your Shasta!

    • June 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you Edward for those wonderfully kind words. Shasta was my girl and has my heart always. I miss her terribly, but am comforted by your vision of lovely vistas and seeing my girl again.

      ~s.

  2. April 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    What a wonderful story. But isn’t it always the case that a nice warm bath/shower, and a nap in the warm sun will do wonders for you and dogs alike!? Glad Shasta is doing well.

  3. April 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    What a glorious idea and what an A+ super duper great day it was. I’m so thrilled about that. I really do think you’ll know, Starry. You’ll just be able to see that she’s miserable. If she’s still having good days, treasure them and store up the memories.

    Taking each of The Girls in was hideous, but we weren’t in doubt. We knew. So hard as we were crying, and sickening as it was, we didn’t have thoughts about changing our minds, or backing out. We knew.

    On the other hand, with her being so graceful as she fades, you may have the blessing of finding her asleep in her favorite place, seemingly composed, and just, oh how i hate to say it. Gone. I know how much you’re hurting, and there’s nothing to do. Just love her, and you’ll do what’s right when it’s time. Without her in pain, I don’t see any reason to rush it, do you?

    Thinking of you every time I play with Tipsy the young ‘un. My best to The Mr.

  4. April 6, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Sherree,

    I don’t know what to say as I dry the tears from my eyes. As I look at Bailey, our 12 year old black lab laying here sleeping, I can completely relate. It is so hard to know that the loyal and loving companion that has been such a big part of your lives for so long may soon be heading on a new journey. Cherish all the beautiful memories that you have made together and know that you are blessed to have found and had each other for the time given.

    You are all in my thoughts.

  5. Sandra March
    April 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    So I cried reading this. I can picture it. I can feel the emotions. I can feel the love. You will know when it’s time. She will tell you. Trust me. I know. And you will cry, and you will remember “bath day,” and the little things will become huge.

    Lots of love and hugs,
    Sandra

    • April 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      You made me cry as I saw this post through your eyes, rather than mine. I am comforted and grateful for your words. Thank you Sandra.

  6. sumner musolf
    April 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Fantastic. What a great memory to have between the three of you. What a great way to mutually express the appreciation, admiration, and love that you all have for each other. You three make a great family.

    Thank you for sharing, Sherree. I know this isn’t easy for you; you, the Mr., and Shasta are all in our thoughts.

    • April 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Sumner-

      Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever write something like this. There are not enough words to thank you for your words of comfort and grace these past few weeks. They mean the world to me.

      ~s.

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