On Wed I lost my Westie Finnegan to Westie Lung Disease. I had no idea he was so sick. He went from just having a slight cough to panicked breathing attacks and he was suffering. On Dec 12th, I took him to my vet for his 6 month senior wellness exam and mentioned that he had a little cough that had started that week. She took X-rays and did all the blood work. Everything came back good, even the X-rays, so we got antibiotics and cough syrup-which he hated. 10 days went by and he was still coughing, he got stronger ones and this is when I asked her "Do I need to be worried about this?" She replied with a firm, "No he's fine, it's just a cough."
He had NO other symptoms. The cough seemed to get better and worse, then the hard breathing started. I had to bring him in seems like every other day the first week of Jan and thousands of dollars of testing revealed that it was allergies. On the 12th he was put on steroids, and he felt back to normal for 3-4 days and I was so excited!
Then Monday last week-this week-the 16th he slid back into panicking and not being able to breathe. We spent the night in the hospital and then he spent the next day at my vet. When I got him at 6 pm she had made an appointment for me at the specialist. I brought my little man home that night and he was lifeless-refused to eat so I let him sleep. I stayed next to him and told him that I was sorry that I couldn't fix this and if it was his time I was giving him permission to go. His eyes weren't the same and I just gave him all my love. That night I slept a bit-out of sheer exhaustion-but he was restless and could hardly stand up. The next morning-the day he died-I picked him up to take him to the vet and he was lifeless just lying against my body. The specialists put him in oxygen and reviewed the 4 X-rays and notes we had. She came in and told me that my dog was dying and had what was called Idiopathic Canine Pulmonary Fibrosis-or Westie Lung Disease. She said she could do an ultra sound to confirm it wasn't his heart and on the off chance he had cancer. I asked her if it was anything else would he ever have quality of life and she said she hoped she was wrong, but in an almost 14 year old Westie it was more than unlikely.
In that split second I had to make a decision-do I end his suffering or be selfish and keep seeing him having these attacks? I asked her several other options about starting him on high steroids since last week he was back to his old self on the steroids-and she said it could work but he only had a matter of weeks and he would suffer because the breathing would continue to get worse. I asked her if it was his heart-even though there was no indication of that-would his lungs ever get better and she said no-the decision was clear even though I wasn't ready to hear it or say goodbye.
Around 12:14 pm they brought my sedated dog-my best friend, my everything-to the room and lay him on the table where he looked sad, and a little wasted. His chest wasn't contracting normal and he wasn't breathing right. I kissed his little nose and head and told him that I loved him more than anything. I then picked him up and cradled him in my arms as she administered the drugs that gave him relief of his pain and suffering. I know I did the right thing but it hurts so much.
I don't know how to live without him. He was a part of my life for almost 14 years. A month ago he was fine. I didn't get that last year or even months to know this was coming and am definitely still in shock. I feel like I am dying. People who haven't lost a pet don't understand how this feels, but it is just as strong, if not worse than the death of my own mother. I feel like a part of me died with him and I don't know how to go on. I can't bring myself to take down the babygate to my bedroom-where he stayed when I was out-I can't pack his toys-I can't seem to break the habit of wanting to walk him at certain times. I know it's only been two days, but I don't know how to get over-or through this. I won't ever get over it.
When I got him I always knew this day was coming and my dad was still sad over the death of my previous pet 4 years earlier and he said, "this dog will die some day" and I knew that, but the life I shared with him was worth it. I will get another dog. I am not me without a dog. I can't now. I am not ready, any dog now wouldn't be him and I would resent that dog. Finnegan was the best dog and I trained him well and he went to puppy kindergarten and day care and my best friend and then boyfriend was there to help me with those first two years. I don't think I could do that now with a new dog and I don't want to not be able to share a new relationship with another dog-but I feel empty without Finnegan. This is a pain that is impossible to explain and I have been all over my FB page talking about it-as therapy for myself, and my friends have been awesome, but I know that I can't go on like that forever as to some they don't understand pet loss and to others they don't want to hear it everyday. I thought I'd blog about it today-and even though today is worse than yesterday and yesterday was worse than the day before-I know at some point it will start going the other way and slowly the times of sobbing will be further and further apart and every time I look in my apt. I won't see my little dog. I can't wait to move out of this place though-we have only lived here since October of this year, but I just can't stand to be in here without him. I am trying to embrace the pain and grief-because usually I run away-that said, it's so hard and part of me wants to crawl into bed and die-part of me already has. I loved my little man so much. I don't know what happens to them, but I know that his suffering is over and that was the best I could do for him. He died in my arms and that is how I always wanted it to happen.
(This photo was taken on Jan 7th and he was having a good day-that was a new toy)