Monday, July 22, 2013

Pete's NDE

Petey is a drama dog.  I had never ever realized there was such a thing until Petey came along.  Some of my long time readers may remember that years ago I thought Petey was dying but he was far from it.  That isn't the only time Petey has been unwell somehow but we thought it was more extreme than it really was.  Of course now, with his advanced age, we know that Petey's days ahead with us are fewer than the days he's already had with us.  We've had sad conversations about his end of life and when would we know it was time to let him go.

Until the wee hours of the morning Sunday morning, Petey's biggest problem was arthritis in his back hips.  That seems to be managed well by medication.  Of course, some days he's perkier than others, but isn't that true for all of us.  We've largely gotten over the peeing in the house phase.  Turns out it wasn't a medical/physical condition at all.  Just a Petey condition.  So, we really have not made any concrete decisions about the end of Petey's life.

In the wee hours of the morning Sunday morning, we thought our decision had been made.  It started at about 1:30 am.  Petey got John up to go out, which is typical except it is more like 5:00 am when he wants out.  Petey took longer than he generally does outside, wandering through the back yard for a while.  John stayed on the porch watching but didn't really see every where he went or every thing he did.  They came back inside.  John went back to bed but Petey didn't.

Petey was very restless.  He would walk in to the bathroom and get a big drink of water.  Then he'd come scratch around on his yellow blanket.  Back to the bathroom, then on the bed, then the blanket.  Around and around up and down he went until we were all exasperated.  At about 2:30 I let him out.  He went out for a quick run and when he came back I gave him 1/2 of one of his doggie downers.  (These are the same pills, I gave him before our lake trip.) We had to get some rest.  All three of us.

Petey settled on his yellow blanket and we were dozing off when I heard some noise coming from the yellow blanket.  I got up to find Petey, in a state.  I wondered if he was having a stroke or maybe a seizure.  His posture was strange and his eyes weren't right.  He had his lips back in a snarl with his remaining teeth bared.  I was a little hesitant to touch him, afraid I'd be bitten, but I couldn't let him lie there in such distress.

I picked him up and that calmed him some.  He was rather limp; his breathing eased but his eyes still weren't right.  I woke John up and told him I thought Petey was dying.  We put him on the bed between us and he seemed to go to sleep. In just a few minutes though, he began almost panting; taking very short, shallow breaths with his tongue hanging out only he was on his side with his eyes closed.

John and I both thought the end was very near.  We cuddled him and told him 'bye' yet he kept on breathing and his heart was beating. We all settled again for another 15-20 minutes and then he began to thrash around.  He managed to get to his belly and proceeded to puke all over the bed.  We both thought this was indeed the end, yet he kept on breathing and his heart kept beating.

We cleaned up the mess and laid there on the bed until morning and then we had to decide what to do.  I had nursery duty at church and John had a class to teach.  Since he was in no obvious distress, we decided that one of us would stay home from church so that he would not be alone when he died.  We didn't think a visit to the vet ER for the 'big shot' was needed.  He wasn't going to last that much longer.  He didn't open his eyes when we touched him.

I went to church and dismissed John's class, explaining about Petey.  Everyone was kind and understanding, even offering to stay in the nursery for me.  I opted to stay, however.  I wasn't sure if I really wanted to be at home when Petey stopped breathing and his heard stopped beating.  On the way home, I wondered if John would wait for me to bury him.  I thought about how to dispose of his things.  I wondered if we could donate his medicine to the shelter.

While I was gone John shared that Petey had roused.  He thought maybe Petey needed to go out, so he lifted him off of the bed to carry him outside.  On the way to the back door, Petey had another episode and lost control of his bladder.  John gently laid him on the back porch thinking that it would just be a matter of minutes now.  Petey roused and wanted to go back in but couldn't walk.  John was fearful of carrying him, thinking that him picking the poor animal up, was what caused the latest episode.  He quickly fashioned a stretcher for Petey and brought him back inside.

I came home to find them both on the front bedroom bed.  Petey more alert than he'd been since I found him on the blanket in the night.  As the day wore on, Petey gradually came back to us.  His eyes got clearer and he was able to move around more.  By bedtime, Sunday night, other than a slight limp which he has off & on, there was no way to tell anything had happened.

Petey is the dog who cried death, much like the boy who cried wolf.  John wondered had this happened during the week, would we have taken him to the vet rather than letting him peacefully die at home.  If so, we could have let Petey go before his time.   There was no way he was faking, but still we believed the situation to be far more dire than it was.

Today, was a typical day for Petey.  He moved a little slower, but it was a rainy morning which often creates a little more creakiness in his bones.  And we all know his penchant for drama!!  Petey is here for a while longer.  As to how long?  Who knows?