Last week we made the heartbreaking decision to allow our darling girl to have some peace.
As many of you know Zena was born with an autoimmune disorder and was on steroids for much of her life.
She got to twelve looking and behaving like a much younger dog and then somehow things began to go downhill.
She was drinking even more than usual and became incontinent which upset her as much as it confused her. With more medication she was able to control herself again and we thought we had it sorted.
The drinking continued to increase though and eventually it was decided that the medication she was taking was pushing her into Cushing’s. We stopped the immunosuppressants and she appeared to improve a little.
Then she developed a cough which became worse and worse and she was given medication for a tracheal collapse.
She developed chronic diarrhoea and despite different diets and vet medications only imodium could help to control it a little.
Then she began to struggle to eat and I switched her dry food to canned food to make it easier for her.
Through it all she was the stoic, loving and darling stubborn Princess that I loved.
But it was all adding up to a lot of discomfort for her and it began to take a toll.
Even with immunosuppressants the autoimmune disorder would cause her pads to peel and her toenails to twist and break which meant days wearing bandages and times when her nails had to be pulled out. Without treatment I knew there would come a time when it would be too painful for her.
Towards the end we must have been seeing the vet twice a month for one thing or another.
Yet every time we walked into the vet her tail would wag and she would accept whatever was done as if she knew it was to help her.
Then over the last two months her health took a further dive as her back legs became weak and it appeared that she was indeed suffering from Cushing’s but it wasn’t through the immunosuppressants, they had simply made it worse.
She could no longer get up and down onto the couch which she used to compete with Raffy about. He now reigned supreme and she accepted a bed on the floor. I once picked her up and put her on the couch and she immediately made it obvious she wanted to get down again. It was as if she was saying if she couldn’t do it herself she wouldn’t do it at all. My stubborn Tibbie.
We were in a dilemma. We couldn’t treat the Cushing’s without making the auto-immune worse and vice-versa. We decided to do the best we could for as long as we could.
To see my little girl stagger made me realise that the time was coming and for the last month she and I were saying goodbye.
For the last twelve months she had no longer wanted to come on my lap for cuddles, but the last two weeks she would come up for a cuddle for a short time and I would tell her how gorgeous she was.
Looking into her eyes I knew she was tired.
I drove her to the park now as she could no longer walk the short distance there and back again.
When she began to refuse the treats that had made her park visits so special it was another sign that her enjoyment of this life was fading.
By now she was on so many medications to try and control the most uncomfortable symptoms she was displaying but we had nothing to control the auto-immune and the itching.
I remember a week ago one of the last times I took her to the park. I drove her there and we chatted a while with friends who then left to go to coffee. I didn’t join them although Zena loved going into the village, it was always a little tricky with the two dogs going at different paces and I didn’t think she could handle the walk. I was wrong.
I stopped to chat with someone at the gate and before I knew it ten minutes had passed. I looked at my husband and he didn’t have Zena as I thought. She was nowhere around. I turned to run to find her and saw two friends slowly making their way back from the village with Zena on a lead. She had followed all the other owners and dogs off for coffee.
Her last adventure. I picture her now walking slowly through the village she loved padding after the rest of the group and taking in the smells and sights of a Saturday morning. If I wasn’t going to take her she was going to take herself. My darling Zena.
When it came it took me by surprise, a little.
We went to the vet with Raffy who had an abscess on his toe and Zena came with us because I thought that perhaps the vet might want to do blood tests. They were also due to have vaccinations but I had already made the decision not to vaccinate Zena.
I didn’t realise we wouldn’t be leaving with her.
I think when the vet saw the deterioration since her last visit and the way she just lay on his office floor listlessly he understood her struggle. I had kept in touch with him by e-mail so he knew things were hard going.
I thought I was prepared. I thought I was ready, but you never are.
She sat on my lap that last time and I told her how much I loved her and would miss her as the tears fell. I know it was the best for her, I know she was tired and it was unfair to ask any more of her but of course I wanted her to stay with me forever.
Our little girl had given us over thirteen years of love and so many memories.
In my mind I see her in her favourite places, I miss her moving from room to room with me, my little velcro dog.
I miss her gentle snoring as she slept alongside me and I miss her Tibetan cheekiness as she drove the daily schedule, punctuated by the once all important treats and meals.
We still have Raffy but he cannot fill the huge gap left by my girl.
When I am sick there is no Zena to share the bed with me.
When I sit down at night no Zena will come and demand cuddle rights.
When an animal comes on the television there is no Zena to leap up and protect us (even though it used to drive us mad).
Thirteen years ago we brought home a black, silky, adorable little black Tibetan Terrier. After Zac died she and I stayed up all night crying and sobbing. She never quite recovered from his loss but we drew closer as a result. It was as if she knew I missed him as much as she did.
I picture her with Zac now. Finally back with the love of her life and wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day, when I am tired and lay down the burden of this life I have my two Tibetan’s waiting for me and I can hold them once again and tell them how special they are and how much they have enriched the last fifteen years of my life and look forward to that love being carried forward in some way.
Her pain is over but mine is just beginning as I adjust to a life without my Princess and a house and life full of the echoes of the past. The journey is at an end and I wish I could turn back the clock and start it again. It was such a beautiful one.
Pawprints left by You
You no longer greet me,
As I walk through the door.
You’re not there to make me smile
To make me laugh anymore
Life seems quiet without you
You were far more than a pet
You were a family member, a friend
A loving soul I’ll never forget.
It will take me time to heal
For the silence to go away
I still listen for you
And miss you every day.
You were such a great companion
Constant, loyal and true
My heart will always wear,
The paw prints left by you.