I’m heartbroken to have to tell you that my furry girl, Rory, was put down this past Tuesday. She was a mere three years old; just barely out of her puppy phase (it seemed).
About three weeks ago, I noticed a lump on her back. I know some dogs are prone to fatty lipomas, so I wasn’t terribly concerned, but I thought I’d ask my friend (a PA student) what she thought. She told me that squishy is a good sign, but hard is bad. Rory’s lump was definitely hard. I made an appointment with the vet for the following week.
By the time her vet visit rolled around, a Friday, she was climbing stairs like an old lady, and her one lump had turned into ten. The doctor ran a whole panel of bloodwork, but everything came back negative. The stumped doctor prescribed some antibiotics and we left, frustrated. Since the lumps didn’t seem to be painful, the vet recommended holding off on a biopsy until we determined if the antibiotics had an effect.
Come Monday, poor Rory couldn’t climb the stairs to go in and out of the backyard. She would cry and wail like a baby. I had never heard a dog cry before – it was heartbreaking. We called the vet and she prescribed some painkillers. We started letting Rors into the front yard instead, which has a two step stoop instead of a full staircase. She still whimpered and whined when climbing up and down, then she would press her body into me, shaking and trembling like a leaf.
A few more days passed. By now, Rory was crying constantly when she moved, and just howled and shook violently on the stairs. Attempting to lift her caused the same pain. It was obvious that the pain started about halfway down her back and radiated down her legs and tail. We took her back to the vet.
The vet now believed that it was a ruptured disc, based on how she was holding herself and the location of the pain. She prescribed tramadol and carprofen: just a step under morphine, she explained. The disc would heal on its own (hopefully) in 6-8 weeks. She said we could address her lumps after her back healed, as they still weren’t painful. They were, however, popping up at an alarming rate.
I put her bed in the living room, near the front door, so she wouldn’t have to walk far to go outside.¬† Still, she wailed and cried each time she went out. She started refusing to get up. Normally a ravenous eater, she stopped eating entirely. She would even spit out peanut butter. She wailed horrible, haunting cries all night if I wasn’t near her, so for the last week I slept on the couch, with one hand dangling off and resting on her shoulder.
This past Monday, I knew she had reached her end. I was able to coax her to go outside, and instead of going potty, she just flopped down in the snow and laid her head down.
I called the vet’s office, and was able to speak with a different doctor. She said that her symptoms were consistent with vertebral cancer, and that we could test for it, but even if we decided to treat it, the prognosis wouldn’t be good. She listed the other possible diseases, and explained that none of them were easily treatable, if at all.
We made the decision to give her some peace and put her down. I was devastated, but relieved at the same time. All of the days she cried and looked to me for relief I couldn’t give her were so hard.
On Tuesday, we wrapped all 75 lbs. of her in a blanket and carried her to the car.¬† She didn’t even struggle. Once inside, she pushed herself up and rode with her head out the window one last time. For a few minutes, she seemed happy and carefree.
At the vet’s, we sat on the floor with her and her favorite toys while they injected her with the sedative and the drugs. It was over quicker than I expected. I hugged her and kissed her shaggy face one last time.
Rory was literally an almost perfect dog. She was smart, sweet, and always happy. She didn’t chew, growl, bite, or destroy things. The very worst of her offenses involved catching a few bunnies and occasionally getting into the garbage. She even got out of the back yard once, and sat on our front stoop until I noticed her there. She didn’t have any weird phobias, or get carsick, or pull on her leash. She was a good dog.
I know we’ll be lucky to find another dog even half as good as her. We’ll have to wait awhile, but for now it feels so weird to be alone in the house. Yesterday I even went to the back door and called her inside after I made coffee, out of habit.
In any case, she gave us so much. I know we gave her a good life, and I am so grateful that in her final weeks she didn’t become afraid of me or lash out, despite the pain. She was a good dog.
RIP Rory. We will never forget you.