Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/19: Maggie's Last Day, Wake at the Lounge, Photo Stroll

1.  The cancerous masses that had been surgically removed about six months from the area where Maggie's tail would be, if she had a tail,  had come back. I learned this when I took the dogs in for a check up six weeks ago. A lump on Maggie's chest suggested that other cancers were inside her. Maggie is fifteen years old. Debbie and I agreed, no more surgery. While living alone with the dogs, I would continue to give Maggie the good life she had known all these years and do all I could to keep her from suffering. Through the month of March and on into April, Maggie's condition declined slowly. Last week, about Thursday, she slowed down almost to a stop. She had stopped barking. Her sense of duty to protect the house, to alert me if a dog walked by or the mail deliverer arrived, was gone. Always eager to eat, Maggie's appetite started to come and go. She was spending several consecutive hours lying in a chair or on a rug, sleeping or staring, often listlessly.  When she went outside to do her business, many of her efforts to pee or move her bowels were unsuccessful.

Over the last four or five days, Maggie perked up from time to time. She ate out of my hand. She went outside and sniffed a little and, if she were human, I'd say she was being nostalgic, gazing over the yard she loved so much.

Debbie's arrival on Sunday evening perked Maggie up. She licked Debbie, followed her around the house some, and spent less time lying on the rug at the foot of the bed.

Dr. Cook came to our house on April 15th some time after 4:30. He was more pastoral than clinical as he got down on the living room floor with Maggie. He agreed that the time was right to end Maggie's life, that surgery or medication might extend her life, but that, before long, Maggie would be right back to where she was today. Maggie was not suffering acute pain right now and we could help her not have to experience such suffering.

Dr. Cook listened to Debbie talk about what a great dog Maggie had been, how Debbie brought her home in Eugene in 2004 in the aftermath of Molly's camp stove accident that had burned her so badly. Debbie deemed Maggie her healing dog.

Soon the time came to put Maggie down. With patience, kindness, and care, Dr. Cook explained what he would be doing. He sedated Maggie. We talked more about Maggie while waiting for the sedation to take hold. Dr. Cook administered the injection that stopped Maggie's heart. He paused, put his stethoscope to her chest.

"Her heart has stopped. She's gone."

Dr. Cook didn't hide Maggie with a blanket or a sheet, nor did he put her in a box.

He put her over his shoulder and, with great dignity, took her to his vehicle, and left.

2. Before Dr. Cook arrived, Debbie wished that the Inland Lounge were open. I replied, "I'll get a hold of Cas. I think he'd open if for us."

I was right.

I texted Cas that we were about to have Maggie put down and wondered if there were any chance he could open the Lounge.

"I'll be there."

And he was and so was Tracy.

About 30 or 40 minutes after Dr. Cook left, Debbie said she was ready to go uptown.

It was perfect.

Bob and Tracy greeted us compassionately. We talked a bit about losing Maggie and, before long, Cas and I shot the breeze at the bar and Debbie and Tracy did the same at a table.

I'd say the four of us had a spontaneous wake, mourning and relishing Maggie's life and the lives of dogs, how much we love dogs as companions and how painful it is when our dogs die. Our wake was about mourning and relishing the death and life of  Maggie and the many dogs who had preceded her. It was about our love for the dogs in our lives right now.

And it was about friendship. Cas and Tracy opened up the Lounge to us and it was just what we needed, a time to mourn, to be comforted,  a time to tell stories, a time to grieve and yak and laugh and drink and eat some Mexican take out, to experience what had come to an end and what it is in our lives that lives on.

3.  Earlier in the afternoon, I drove out to the Pinehurst trailhead of the the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and walked for about two and a half miles, nearly 6000 steps and took some pictures.

Over the last several days, I just couldn't leave the house much. I just couldn't leave Maggie. It probably wasn't rational, but it's the way I am in these situations.

With Debbie here, I was happy that I could get out and walk and take some pictures, to know I was rusty, but to get back into the swing of it again.

I walked to the gravel pit near Enaville and returned to Pinehurst. I took black and white pictures walking west and took pictures in color coming back. I studied the fifty-one pictures I took and learned a lot from the mistakes I made. Here are some of the black and white photographs. I've decided that none of the pictures I took in color are worth posting here. I'll post them on flickr where I post every picture I take without judgment or discretion.


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