Our sweet golden retriever, Ruby, peacefully passed away January 26th, 2013. She endured much suffering in her short life, but gave us an unmeasurable amount of joy. When we brought her home with us April of 2011 we had no idea what was in store for us. After many months of bladder infections we found out that she was in kidney failure at 6 months old. The vet advised us to put her to sleep. We went home that day heartbroken. He wanted to run one more test to see if she had any chance of survival. I cried the rest of the day. I prayed to Heavenly Father to please give us just one year with her. Just one more summer. The next day the vet called and said with a change of diet that he thought she would live. And she did.
We were blessed with that year. And one more summer. And even another Christmas. But last fall I started noticing that Ruby was sleeping a lot and looked depressed. I thought it was just the winter blues setting in or perhaps another bout of feeling sick for awhile and then she'd bounce back. But at the beginning of December she started eating less and then refused to eat at all. Then she started vomiting. I took her to the vet. She had blood work. She was jaundiced and her liver bile acids were extremely high. Things did not look good for her.
Still I tried. I made her a special diet and started feeding her with a syringe and hand fed her water. She would have good days and then bad. She had an ultrasound. Her liver looked smaller, probably due to the damage it was enduring. Her kidneys were badly scarred, probably due to the fact that all her "bladder infections" she had as a pup were actually a kidney infection. We started her on lots of meds and liver supporting supplements. She had a couple of good days and then started to vomit again until she was vomiting everything I gave her. The last week she was also vomiting after she drank water. Still I tried to nurse her back to health. I told her to fight, but she just looked so tired.
Finally Friday afternoon I opened her mouth to find it full of blood. Pete and I had just taken turns walking her up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. I looked at her gums and found a sore that was bleeding. Soon after she went outside to vomit. That was the last time I fed her, gave her any pills or water. I couldn't bare it any longer.
That night at dinner I started crying that I couldn't do this any longer. She was suffering and I just couldn't make her endure any more. I asked my family what to do. They agreed it was time.
That night Ruby spent most of her time cuddled up next to us, instead of curled up in a ball between the couch and the wall like she had for the last 5 weeks. We watched "Spooky Buddies" together. Ruby watched the movie. She loved watching dogs or horses on TV. It was a wonderful night together. She didn't vomit at all because her tummy was empty and not in pain.
The next morning I woke up at 5 am and checked on Ruby. She was laying in her bed. I went back upstairs and went to sleep for a few minutes until I heard her whimpering downstairs. That was the first time she had whimpered since getting sick again. I went downstairs and she was standing up in her kennel. I let her outside and she stayed out there for a while just staring off into the distance like she had done so much over the last few weeks. Finally she came in and I sat next to her petting her and talking to her for the next few hours. I told her not to worry that today she would be in Paradise, free of pain. She looked at me like that sounded pretty great to her.
At 8 o'clock I called the vet and made the appointment. That was so hard. Several times that morning I questioned my decision. But as she attempted to drink from her water bowl and couldn't bring herself to do it, I knew I had made the right decision for her.
The kids got up and spent several hours cuddling her and watching more Golden Retriever "Buddies" movies with her. They all said their goodbyes. Pete and I put her in the van and drove to the vet. She needed help getting in and out of the van, but walked into the vet on her own, stood for a few minutes in the exam room and then lied down. We sat there for a long time saying our goodbyes and telling her just how much we loved her. She looked so perfect on the outside, but her eyes told us it wouldn't be long. They came in and shaved her back leg and then gave her a shot. Before I could count to three she was gone. So peacefully. No pain. No suffering.
I imagined her leaping out of her body, looking at us one last time and running out of the room to find the nearest river to frolic in.