Our First Baby

I never had a dog growing up. Owning one was my biggest dream, the number one thing on my Christmas list every single year of my childhood. I even had an imaginary dog, Sandy (just like the dog in the movie Annie), whom I called to me while crossing the street and pretended to pet when he “followed” me around, to my brother’s everlasting mortification.

You can imagine, then, how thrilled I was when Bill drove me to a Jack Russell Terrier breeder on Valentine’s Day of 2000 to pick out my first dog. There were six puppies in the litter, all beyond adorable. They all had a little dot on the top of their head and markings around their face. Only one of them had markings in the back. This one seemed a little shier than the other ones, holding back while the rest jumped and scampered all over us. She stole my heart from the start, and pretty soon we were heading back to my apartment with her in my arms.

Her initial shyness lasted about as long as the car ride. When we brought her home, her true colors came out. She was EVERYWHERE. A typical Jack Russell - hyperactive, happy, energetic, too-smart-for-her-own-good. Aimee destroyed pretty much everything in her path, from drywall to carpeting to my brand-new Versace sunglasses. She was a handful, but she was our baby, and we doted on her.

Alas, the years have crept up on poor Aimee, and she is now suffering from old dog ailments. She is losing her vision and suffers from arthritis and incontinence. Her hearing seems to be starting to go too, and she will bark for no reason or not bark at all when the doorbell rings. Her one leg shakes all the time although she does not seem to be in pain, and she pretty much just sleeps the day away. Despite all this, she has always been in general good health and we always assumed she still had a few years ahead of her. Until now.

I first noticed the blood on a little puddle of pee Aimee had left on the floor. Then I saw it again a day or two later when she peed in the snow. An initial round of antibiotics did not get rid of the bleeding, so I took her back to the veterinarian this past Friday. He took an X-ray to see if maybe she had kidney stones that were causing the bleeding, but there were none. Now she is on yet another round of antibiotics in the hopes that it is just a stubborn infection that the first medication wasn’t able to get rid of. If this doesn’t work, the vet wants to do an ultrasound to see if it’s something more serious, like a tumor.

My heart dropped. As much as I complain about her, I cannot imagine our lives – our home – without Aimee. But the truth of the matter is this: she is old, and she might be very sick, so it is time to start asking ourselves the tough questions, to start thinking about the possibility that she might not be with us for very much longer.

I feel very unprepared and overwhelmed about all this, and am just hoping and praying that this second round of antibiotics get rid of the bleeding and she will be with us for a little while longer. In the meantime, we are showering her with love, giving her lots of extra treats and rubs, and making sure that she knows how much we love her. She is, after all, our first baby.

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  • Khadine, I am so sorry for what you are going through. There is only one thing I can say - you will know when it's time to say Good-bye. In the meanwhile, cherish what you've got.

    I remember when each of my beautiful, loving cats died, I knew when the time was right. With my first cat, I was on the phone with the vet talking about all sorts of complex options to prolong her life and as I watched my beloved kitty, I knew the conversation was going nowhere, that it wasn't fair to my Tawny to keep her alive.

    Just then my husband walked in the door, full of optimism, saying Tawny did seem to look "a little better" and let's "go for it" with more treatments - and I burst into tears and told him none of that felt right, I could see in Tawny's eyes, in her body language, in the way she looked past me, instead of at me. The moment of realizing it is time to say Good-bye is awful, but I knew in my heart it was right.

    When we walked into the vet's office with tears in our eyes, telling her we wanted to end Tawny's suffering, she said I had made the right decision - that at this point we were keeping her alive for my sake, not for her quality of life as she was no longer getting any enjoyment out of it.

    You will know, too - just keep her close to your heart these days. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and I sure hope Aimee gets well.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I so hope I do know when the right moment to say goodbye will be, just like you did. That is my greatest fear - to either wait too long and have her suffer unnecessarily, or to make a decision too soon and deprive ourselves of some extra quality time we could have had with her. I just really hope the moment is made clear to us.

    Unfortunately, the antibiotics haven't worked. I have an appointment with an internal medicine vet next week to see about the ultrasound. We'll see what happens. It's looking more and more like this is something a few pills won't get rid of...

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