My journey with Gertrude hasn’t been easy. It’s been one of the most difficult and biggest life changing experiences of my life.
When I picked her up from a transport rescue who had traveled to Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas I had no idea what I was in for. Her need for a foster seemed so desperate.
Gertrude tested positive for heartworm the day I got her. She immediately saw the doctor the following Wednesday (three days later ) where she was diagnosed as terminal. The worms had been inside her heart for too long, and killing them would kill her. Her heart and liver were enlarged and she was diagnosed grave or terminal. She had such a heavy worm burden they warned me she could drop dead at any second.
The rescue made it my choice to either foster her until death (one to three weeks). Since she was in discomfort my other option was to euthanize her that week. I chose euthanasia.
They scheduled to euthanize Gertrude a few days later. In those few days, I realized so much from her. Just because she was dying doesn’t mean she is dead.
I couldn’t put her down. I knew if I did it would be because I didn’t want an old, scared, dying, and untrained dog in my house. I’m a dog lover, it’s my civic duty to save all lives, even the terminally ill ones.
I decided I was going to cure Gertrude: if you think that’s how the story ends it doesn’t. it hasn’t ended yet: her appointment is tomorrow at 4:15 pm. I researched heartworm like a nerd in a library and tried many techniques. I reached out to everyone I could and every veterinarian I knew from work and all confirmed her grave diagnosis.
When I finally accepted her fate, I decided; I wanted to keep her alive as long as I could. The problem is the terminal illness no matter how healthy she becomes is still terminal. Manifesting in her blood stream and heart the warm burden is too heavy and she is in extreme discomfort having her heart sacrificed to the worm burden.
For weeks I have prepped her meals full of proteins and nutrients to put some weight on her and gave her cough tablets, supplements, and pumpkin seeds in hopes of “paralyze” any worms. For two, almost three weeks Gertrude did great. Her strength was up, she had slept off years of uncomfortable sleep, and she seemed less depressed. I sort of fell in love with her personality the more she showed me how much she wanted to be a dog. Her personality radiates strong even though she appears weak. She’s a survivor. First time playing with a ball Debating whether or not to trust the food I feed Her finding out there were so many toys she could eat Located the toy bin She’s in my spot
She started moving from one side of the couch to where I sat. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to take over or if she was bored of her toy/blanket/fort
Until she let me take a selfie. I realized she was shy, and she was just not sure she could trust meThat might’ve been one of the best days of both of our lives
I didn’t resent her for not trusting me. I don’t think I fully trusted her. I would sleep on the couch just to make sure she didn’t go to the bathroom (but she would inevitably do anyways when I was asleep) it wasn’t until my body gave up from exhaustion that I went to my room, a room she was not allowed in, and I slept and slept and slept some more.
I realized all she wanted was to go into my room. It was something she’s never done and wasn’t allowed to do. I refused to let her come in and lay on my bed. I didn’t want potty accidents in that one area of my home. I would have continued to not let her have my boyfriend not caught this image of us while I was asleep.
From That moment on we immediately trust each other. She never went potty in the forbidden room. To this moment she hasn’t.
We still spend every second together. We don’t leave the bedroom and every hour is sleep hour.
at this moment she can trust me I can trust her.
Knowing when the right time to put her down and working in veterinarian feeling like I should know when the right time is one of the hardest emotional struggles I’ve ever faced. I woke up to her coughing and I laid there. At that moment I start crying as I realize there’s never a right time. There will never be a good time to put her down. S
o, the choice has been made because if I were her and I was suffering I would want her to put me down before I suffered anymore as long as I at least lived a happy life for a little bit.
I don’t want her to be in any more pain ever again. To die happy with me is what she would want, its what any dog would. Holding on to her past her expiration date only ruins any good that I had done. She’s had enough years of suffering.
So here we spend our last night together and she rests peacefully. If people think that an old, used-up dog isn’t worth their time then they are missing out on a very eye-opening, emotional, and bittersweet event. Not one thing, no dog, no species, is worth nothing. We all deserve a good life. Even if it’s just for a little bit.
I will forever hold this dog in my heart. She broke down a wall I had by showing me hers. Words can’t describe the immense sadness I feel. I hope everyone can learn from this experience. Life is short, trust is earned and it’s okay to talk about death. Death is a part of life. Old dogs know the best tricks and saying goodbye never feels good. It doesn’t feel good even though its right. Me being there for her during is as important as any other part of our adventure together. She can trust me until the very end. I’m going to miss my friend
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