It's his favorite spot this time of the day. The sun warms the carpet and he loves to be there as he can typically rest while keeping eyes on me.
But today is a bit different. Because I know it is one of his last. As I lay next to him, we snuggle on our favorite blanket together. It's the same blanket we've used since he was a new puppy nine years ago. The blanket has history. Homemade, washed and patched up around the edges more times than I could count, it has worn well. I picked up the fabric from the Los Angeles garment district when I was in college. As leaders of our dance team, we spent a few days with our coach taking as many classes as possible and soaking in as much choreography as we could in an effort to bring it home to use and develop from for the upcoming year. Our coach knew the city well, and one morning knew exactly what booths to hit for the deals on fabric for uniforms for the season. It was there, on a day when I was so exhausted from all the dancing and walking, but energized at the same time with the adventure of it all, that we walked by this fabric. Both a friend and I picked it up. A funny souvenir for a vacation, but nonetheless, I was excited. Who knows what she did with hers, but mine has clearly stuck around.
We lay together. I begin to think of all the hours we've spent snuggled on this blanket together. Pregnant and exhausted, I should take the opportunity to sleep along with him. But I can't. As I listen to his labored, sleeping breath, tears stream down my face. While I wish all the medicine in the world would fix this little guy, I know, and so does he, that isn't going to happen. His time is short, and his breath and movement is labored. I have no way to comfort this guy, other than to share my love with him in the best way I know how.
So we lay together.
The next evening, as we sat there together, I was rubbing his ears, when I felt the entire side of his face was extremely swollen. In just a day, he seemed to have developed a huge tooth/gum infection that had inflamed a side of his face.
I took him in the next morning, and by then his eye was swollen shut. The vet evaluated him, and said with a surgery tooth-extraction/cleaning combo and some medicine he should be back to regular. She drew a blood sample before we left, gave us some pain meds for the little guy and had us scheduled for first thing on Thursday morning.
But, the surgery never happened. As we found out, the tooth/gum infection was just the tip of the ice berg for our little guy. His blood work showed that his blood cells were attacking one another. After taking another sample the next day, they had depleted so much, she wasn't even sure what combination of meds would or could bring him back. After going through a list of everything under the sun that he could have gotten himself into, and then ruling all of those out, she let us know that he was suffering from an autoimmune disease, and had been for quite some time.
As she told me all of this over the phone, I felt like I couldn't understand what she was saying. I remember asking her what would work best to bring him back to good health, and then she started talking about a specialist in another state. At that point, my mind turned off. As if it had stopped processing all information. I called Mike and was so jumbled in explanation, I told him to call her directly. So he could make sense of what I'd just heard.
That's the funny thing about dogs. You always know that they will never live as long as you, but you never really expect or plan on them not being there either. Standing in my mudroom, I was just arriving home from carpool, and the energy of the kids coming home was in the background. Our dog was there with us, and I just couldn't imagine that he really was at the end.
"He'll bounce back from this." I said in my head over and over that day. "He's a tough dog." The past few nights had been relatively sleepless as Kermit (who sleeps in his own bed in our room), kept breathing so loudly and irregularly. His infection from his mouth had caused a small yet constant spotty dribble of blood. As I kept finding places around the house to clean up I would tell myself, "This couldn't be the end. It's just an infection, and he'll clear up." I told myself. Convinced myself.
By Wednesday night, although he still wasn't eating any regular food, and hadn't since Monday, I was convinced that he was going to pull through.
My hopes were smashed as Mike and I did our own research on what his condition really meant. Reaching out and talking with as many voices of reason as we could, we began to draw to the obvious conclusion that fixing Kermit was no longer an option. It was about doing was was best for the little guy.
Thursday was thankfully a warm, sunny day. Something that has been very few and far between. As the kids came home, the girls joined me on the landing. Tayler loved the chance to sit with him and snuggle with him and her baby.
Max had an amazing knowledge and sense about the whole thing. After we'd put everyone to bed, he came back downstairs and asked to spend some time with his buddy. As they snuggled and his eyes filled with tears, listening to all his questions about death and life were something I'll cherish.
As much as my selfish mind wanted to hold onto him so that I wouldn't have to let him go, I knew he was done. And, as if he knew that he wanted to say goodbye to everyone, he held on until both Max and Mike were home.
Friday, March 14, 2014 was his last day. Almost exactly nine years old. Love that kermie-kerm.