Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Celebration of Hope

Today we would have celebrated our sweet Hope's 13th birthday--which is actually the 8th anniversary of the day we brought her home to live with us. As most of our friends and family know by now, she unfortunately passed away almost two weeks ago on August 10.

Obviously, Hope didn't live but a couple of days after my last post. We thought we would have a little more time with her, but that Friday night (which happened to be my birthday) it became clear that we had to let her go. Even though it had been just two days since we'd started to taper off the steroid she was taking, her tumor had started growing more rapidly. In the 2+ hours we were gone having my birthday dinner, the tumor growth in her nose was so significant it was alarming. With many tears and lots of heartache, we made the decision to have her put down the next morning, in the hope that we were sparing her a lot of pain and misery.

Hope was such a terrific dog whose love for life and sheer determination were unparalleled. She displayed that determination until her last breath. We miss her terribly, but we are so thankful that we were blessed enough to be her parents for almost 8 amazing years.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


As I'm writing this post, this is the face that's staring up at me. She's still here and she's still hungry. :)

We honestly thought that last night I'd be writing her "obituary" on my blog. As of last weekend, Hope's energy level and mobility had continued to decline and her nasal congestion had continued to be an issue. She spent every waking hour standing next to us panting, so we began to worry that she was really in pain. Her appetite was as strong as ever, but since eating seemed to be the only thing that made her happy anymore, we were starting to question whether she was enjoying the rest of her life at all. After a particularly bad day on Sunday, Chad and I reluctantly and tearfully made the decision to have her put down. We scheduled the appointment for Wednesday, since that would give us a couple of days to come to grips with the decision and Chad would be able to take the whole day off. You'd think we'd be more prepared for this, but it was just such a hard decision because we weren't 100% sure we were doing the right thing. People just keep telling us we'll know when it's the right time to put her down, but we just didn't know. We found it impossible to look into these beautiful, pleading eyes and tell her that we were removing her from our family in a couple of days.

Now this might sound weird to some people, but for the next two days we prayed about the decision--just that God would give us wisdom and peace about the right thing. I contend that He answered those prayers, because we never had peace about putting her down. Instead we kept worrying that we would be taking her from this earth before she was ready, and in the next couple of days she confirmed that our feelings were valid. Hope had two of the best days she'd had all week, seeming more relaxed, comfortable and more interested in people and dogs outside--all with nearly zero mucus, which hadn't happened in weeks. She even did all of her normal tricks on command for Chad Tuesday evening! We knew she wasn't ready, so Wednesday morning we cancelled her euthanasia appointment just an hour before we were scheduled to go.

When Hope woke up later in the morning yesterday, she was struggling. She was tripping more often, refusing to even walk out the front door for a short walk down the driveway, sleeping very fitfully, eating and drinking frantically, and following me panting whenever I wasn't laying down in bed. She seemed so unsettled and uncomfortable that I worried that we'd now made the wrong decision in cancelling her appointment. I called Chad and he came home, agreeing that she'd really taken a nosedive from the day before. He called the vet and got us an appointment for the end of the day, but he didn't stop researching what other issues besides pain might be causing Hope's excessive panting and what seemed like anxiety. Chad's research gave us a tiny glimmer of hope that some of our dear girl's issues were related to medication side effects, but we were still preparing ourselves for the worst. 

So we went to see Dr. Coles yesterday afternoon with every intention of having Hope put down. We brought a bed for her to lay on and stopped for a Burger King hamburger and cone on the way there. Thankfully though, Dr. Coles didn't think Hope was ready to go either. He agreed with the opinion Chad formed from all of his research--Hope's obsessive panting and eating/drinking/peeing/pooping are more likely due to the Prednisone than the cancer. He sent us home with instructions on how to taper off the steroid and increase her iron consumption to help with her anemia (which likely IS from the cancer). Dr. Coles was hopeful that getting rid of the side effects of this drug will improve Hope's quality of life, and we are too!

Since we know that taking her off of this drug may also cause her cancer to start growing even more quickly, we are trying to prepare ourselves for that as well. If Hope doesn't pass away on her own in the next couple of weeks, we will very likely be faced with the same agonizing decision that we were faced with this week. Hopefully though, when that time comes we'll have more peace about letting her go.