Until the end, whenever that shall be.

10:36 AM

Our dog, Porter, is a part of our family.  He was our second "kid" (our St. Bernard was our "first.")  Raider passed almost two years ago and saying goodbye to him was one of the most difficult days that I have experienced.  I grieved for him the same way that I did for our human family members that have passed.

9:30am seems to be the witching hour.  Chris was off of work on Friday so he took the girls to daycare and then went to run some errands.  I was working in my office at home.  I heard what I thought was Chris coming home followed by a strange noise from Porter, almost like a growl.  Porter rarely growls (Bullmastiffs are called the silent attackers) so I walked into the living room and turned the corner to see Porter having a violent seizure.  I'll never, ever be able to forget that moment.  What his body looked like, curled up and tense.  His usually sweet, puppy like face, foaming, caught in a perpetual attack dog snarl that he has never once displayed..  He shook.  His body slammed against the wall.  I sat with him, one hand over my mouth, the other petting him softly.  I didn't want to leave but I knew that I needed to call Chris.  One minute.  Then two.  Still seizing.  I left him to get my phone and called Chris and let him know that he needed to come home.  Three minutes.  Four.  He stopped.  Finally.  All I could say was, "Oh, Porter. Oh, Porter." Over and over. Deep down I was telling myself that this could be it. This could be his final moment and he deserved all the love that I had for him. Just me and the dog.  Nothing else mattered in that moment.  Nothing.  He was covered in urine and foam and I didn't care. 

Porter started to come around and his eyes were finally tracking my movements.  He tried to lift his head but couldn't. He was exhausted.  I called Chris and let him know that he needed to call the vet, that this could be it and it may be time to say goodbye.  Chris had already called the vet and we were going there as soon as we could.  Chris came home and Porter tried to stand.  He was wobbly, as animals are after a seizure.  He was unable to take more than one or two steps.  The minutes that passed were tense but Porter was trying to walk around.  I couldn't stop the tears from pouring down my face.  Chris called the vet again, to ask if we should still make the trip downtown since Porter was becoming less and less disoriented. (We have used the same vet since we were in college that is in Five Points, they are fantastic.  We never switched to a vet closer to our house since our animals were healthy and required only a yearly check-up.  But it's quite the trip to see them in an emergency situation.)  They advised that we bring him in.  So we loaded Porter in the Suburban and headed downtown.  I was still during the ride.  I talked to God a lot in those 25 minutes.  I thanked him for the moments we had and let him know that if he needed Porter now, that I understood.  I didn't like it, not one bit, but maybe God needed my angel dog more than we did.  The vet ran a full blood panel that came back normal.  They didn't have a medical explanation for the seizure, other than something in his brain was causing a misfire.  She didn't recommend that we put him down after one seizure but if they should continue, we would have some decisions to make. 

I was flooded with relief.  We could take him home. 

We watched his every move the rest of the day, he seemed tired, but okay.  Early Saturday morning he had another seizure right after Chris left for work, of course!  This one shorter than the last but still violent and ugly to witness.  This time it took him much longer to come out of, almost a half hour.  When he did finally come around, he was disoriented for more than three hours.  He walked in circles and even tried to get on my treadmill at one point.  He was tired the rest of the day and didn't do much other than sleep.  Sunday he didn't "wake up" until 11am.  He went out twice and wasn't himself until 5pm or so. 

We noticed yesterday that he is doing some unusual things.  He started running into things - walls, doors, chairs.  Did he lose eyesight or is he just off balance?  He's panting more than usual.  This morning he was determined to get underneath the chair in my office, while I was sitting in it.  He's not as active with the girls as he has been in the past. 

Porter gets a milkbone each night before we go to bed, though he usually he'll hit us up for two, one from each of us before we get into bed.  Last night, I gave Porter one before I got into bed, Chris gave him one before he took his contacts out.  I told Chris to give Porter another milkbone before he got into the bed.  Chris said he had already had two but I said that I didn't care because he was dying.  Chris laughed at my logic.  I don't know if he's hurting. I don't know if he's suffering.  The only thing that I can do is make him comfortable and give him as many milkbones as he would like.

I asked Chris what we're going to do with our big dog because I have spent every minute of every day worrying.  I jump at every strange sound, thinking that he's having another seizure.  We've been lucky that so far the girls haven't been around for either of his seizures.  I don't want them to witness it because it's a terrible, terrible visual.  I'm terrified that he's going to pass at home, curled up in the corner, and I won't be able to move him.  Chris said that we're going to let nature take its course.  That we'll make the decision when we have too.  We both agree that when his quality of life begins to degrade, that it will be time to say our goodbyes.  We're on borrowed time.  We've known that for awhile, he's ten, he's lived a long life for such a big dog.  No matter what, we'll love Porter until the end, whenever that shall be.  

Porter as a puppy.


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