Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Christmas Trees are Safe

Nala and Maya in happier days...I know I haven't kept up on the blogging of late. Life has been a bit on the hectic side. I mean, none of you ever really come here for timely news or commentary. I've always moved at my own pace. And you've always stuck around. I appreciate that. Occasionally, a story comes along that moves me to write it as soon as I can. To make time when I really have none. This is one of those occasions...

Today, at just a little before noon, Nala left us. I wish I could say that she went peacefully in her sleep, but neither she, nor we, were that lucky. The trouble started a couple of days ago. She was having a weird drool problem. She would chew as though there were something tough in her mouth and her mouth would twitch and there would be saliva everywhere. I thought it was just an oral irritation and tried to be more careful of what I gave her to eat. But it increased in frequency, and yesterday, during a particularly bad bout, I tried to get her to go out to the backyard as we had just cleaned the floors.

She looked at me with little awareness or acknowledgement, and when she finally did get up to go outside, she couldn't remember how to walk. She walked in a circle three times and then lost the ability to walk altogether. That's when it got scary. She starting having a seizure. She stumbled to the ground and began spasming uncontrollably. We all stood helpless watching her. As the seizure passed, I scooped her up in a blanket and whisked her off to the vet. During the drive, her breathing was labored, but she was calm. We had prepared the kids when I left that I might come back alone.

While at the vet, she slowly started to revive. When the vet saw her, she looked almost normal. She did have one of her drooling episodes while the tech was taking the case history. Based on history and examination, the vet recommended bloodwork first. By the time that was done and the results were back, Nala was walking around like herself again. Apparently, apart from the twitching and drooling, Nala was a perfectly healthy dog. The best they could come up with on the seizure was one of two things. The more easily treatable was the bacterial infection in her mouth. The vet surmised that the pain from the infection could cause her to spasm. Possibility two was a brain tumor or other neurological problem. That would be harder to diagnose. So, the plan was to put her on the antibiotics for a week to ten days and if she wasn't better, we'd go back and decide our next move. We never got the chance.

This morning, while I was out getting last minute things for our trip to Puerto Vallarta, She Who Must Be Given Sympathy called me on the cell phone. Nala was having another seizure. What was she supposed to do? I told her to administer the valium and then call the vet. I grabbed the last few items, waited in the checkout line, and rushed home. The seizure lasted twenty minutes. We couldn't get the valium in her. I just stood there and watched her slowly die. I rubbed her fur and tried to ease her passing, but I'm not sure she was there. When it was over, I covered her with a blanket and we saw to the kids.

They took it pretty hard. It's tough to say who had it worse. Nala was originally bought for She Who Must Be Given Sympathy to help her through two consecutive miscarriages. Maya pointed out that she had known Nala her whole life. They had grown up together. Just was just appalled that dogs could die. And me, well, I'm a pretty emotional sort and a dog person. We all made little tributes and put them in her box before I took her off for her final arrangements. Maya wrote her a letter and made her an origami purse full of dog food. Josh drew a picture of her. She Who Must Be Given Sympathy and I wrote her little notes on old dirty socks. It was kind of reminiscent of the send-off a Pharaoh got. And that was it.

All that is left is the grieving. And the memories. Josh wants to know if I'll miss him when he dies. Maya just wants to know why. She Who Must Be Given Sympathy blames herself for not taking care of Nala's teeth sooner. And me. I just want to get that image of her out of my head. The one where she is lying on the ground shaking herself to death.

I'd rather remember her as she is here. As the silly dog who barked when Christmas trees rode past. Or motorcycles. Or bicyclists. Or pedestrians. She felt like she was watching the flock. We'll miss you Nala. Thanks for keeping us safe these last ten years.

In eight hours I get on a plane to PV. I'll try to check in while I'm there. If not, see you on the flip side. Sorry to bring you down. If you made it this far, thanks.

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