Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ok, more details

I think I can do this without crying. So here goes.

During the last week of June, my dog Sugar kinda collapsed on her way out the door with my sister. She lay on the porch for a couple minutes, and then was fine and went on the walk. {we found out later that was Heart Attack #1}

On July 2nd, my mom and sis were out on the back porch and Sugar was in the back yard. Another dog jumped into my neighbor’s yard {Sugar has very few doggie friends, I should add} and Sugar went craaaazy barking ferociously and scaring the strange dog away. Mom went out to shoo the other dog away, and when she turned back to our own yard, Sugar was lying belly-up on the ground. She was able to roll over, but couldn't lift her head for like 5 minutes. {Heart Attack #2}

Before I go on, let me say that Sugar was still jumping the back fence like a month ago. Yes, my 14-year-old dog was jumping the fence and roaming the neighborhood like she was in her right mind. A couple years ago, it was a common occurrence for a neighbor/co-worker who lives down the street to call and say “Sugar’s at my house. Want me to bring her back?” and one of us would walk the 3 blocks and go bring her back. We almost expected her to be waiting for us on the front porch even though we left her on a leash in the backyard. It was a family joke that the neighbor kids would come over and ask “Can Sugar come out and play?” because she knew them better than we did.

So the fact that Sugar couldn't lift her head clued us in that something was wrong.

I went to Florida with my friend, and one night when I called home, I noticed my mom sounded like she had a stuffy nose. I asked her if she was sick, and she told me that she had been crying. I was like, uh-oh. what’s up? and she told me that Sugar had been coughing and wheezing and the vet said she had fluid in her lungs. Poor baby.

When I got home, she wasn't coughing anymore, but the medicine the vet had given her to get the fluid out of her lungs was basically a dehydrator and she had lost like 5lbs of water-weight. She was skiiiiinny! Like, homeless skinny. And then Mom tells me she hadn't eaten in 4 days. So the dog was drinking a ton and eating nothing, and not moving very much. {note: I refer to her as “the dog” as a term of endearment. I called her that to her face, just so you know.}

Oh yeah, before the coughing thing, we didn't know if she would survive the 4th of July, because she hates fireworks. Now, some dogs hate fireworks and go hide from them. Sugar hates fireworks and tries to out-volume them with her barking. Yeah. That kind of hate.

So after the two heart incidents, Mom and J took her to the vet 1- to check her out and 2- to get basically tranquilizer drugs for her. The vet told them that Sugar had a heart murmur and basically the two “episodes” were heart attacks, and only half her heart was working. So, the tranquilizers might kill her if we gave them to her, or the barking and excitement from the fireworks might kill her if we didn't give them to her, or she could be fine and last another year. awesome.

We ended up giving her half of a pill and she survived. {I wasn't there for this, so this is second-hand.} But she was really, really mellow after that.

The weekend after the 4th, we wanted to go to our beach cabin. Dad and J literally put Sugar on her rug and carried the rug to the back of the van where her kennel was. This kind of freaked me out, because when Sugar was healthy, she hated being carried or lifted or anything. So when she just looked and Dad and J as they precariously carried her to the van, I knew that something was really, really wrong.

My sis P was in Toronto at the time, working for good old Microsoft. My mom told me that Friday we were hoping Sugar lasted until Sunday so P could say goodbye, and then we were going to put her down on Monday. The end really was near. But it was nearer than we thought.

Saturday, Mom, Dad, J and I are at the beach cabin. Sugar had done pretty well; she had walked around with one of her few doggie friends Grappa {he’s Italian-it’s pronounced “GRAW-puh”} and then she basically lay around. We had guests over, and Mom took them out in the kayaks. I was helping put the last kayak away when I saw J and Dad looking under the front porch, Sugar’s favorite spot where she had been the past couple hours, and then I heard J start to cry, hard, and Dad got up and hugged her. That was when I knew.

Our guests graciously offered to leave, so Mom took them to the ferry while Dad, J, our neighbor and I started to dig a grave for Sugar. Grappa is the second dog our neighbors had; Bailey was their first, and he is buried in their field. Bailey and Sugar basically were best doggie friends; Sugar was the only dog Bailey liked. So our neighbors graciously offered to let us bury Sugar next to Bailey. It took us a couple hours to mow and weed wack and dig, but we got it done, and then the 4 of us buried Sugar and thanked God for the good life she had spent with us.

It was so, so hard to realize that she was dead, and it was harder to think about telling my other 2 sisters.

But on Sunday, we went home and sat down as a family and told them, and we cried together and are good.

It’s hard, and weird sometimes to think that we don’t have a dog anymore, but we are grateful for many things involving this whole situation.

  1. She died naturally, in her favorite spot, at home. Because of this, we were able to bury her and will be able to go see her grave if we want.
  2. She wasn't in any pain; it was her heart that went, and that was that. 
  3. It was a very short time between her first heart attack and her death. She didn't suffer and she was herself up until the very end. We literally would get asked “how old is your puppy?” when we took her on walks. So, so grateful for all the time she had with us.
  4. I’m especially glad we didn't have to put her down because a, we would have continually wondered if she had more time left, and b, Sugar hated going to the vet! I’m glad she was comfortable when she died.
This may be really weird for some of my readers, that I’m detailing all this here. Well, first let me say that I am not one of those yay-animals people that is a fan of the animal shelter commercials with the sappy music. Please. Animals are animals, and humans are humans. Check out the Bible for more details on that.

I wanted to document this for a couple reasons. One, it’s cathartic for me to write it all out. It’s helped me get it out of my head, in a sense. My favorite math teacher always told me to get stuff out of my head and “let the paper do the thinking.” So that’s basically what I’m doing with this story.   Two, typing is way faster than me handwriting it. There, that’s the selfish reason. But it relates to my third reason, which is that I do want to remember what happened and how it happened, and I want to remember all the things I’m grateful for involving Sugar’s death. Four, it helped me put things in perspective. Sugar was our family pet and it is sad that we lost her. But at the same time, she’s a dog. I sometimes felt stupid for crying so much over a dog- how do I justify that? It’s not like she’s a person in my immediate family who died, but that’s what it felt like.
So I’m writing about this to get my feelings out.

It kinda seems like I’m contradicting myself, that “she was just a dog” so I wrote a whole blog post about her? What??? It doesn't make sense, I admit. I don’t even understand myself. But I know that this post has helped me, just in writing it, and that in a way I’m getting closure. When I first told you that Sugar had died, I alluded to more details to come. And for the rest of the week, from writing that to writing this, I would think of Sugar or blogging, and I would feel like I needed to finish this story. So now that it’s written out, I have fulfilled my obligations to you, my readers, and to myself, because the tale {terrible timing for a pun, right?} has been told.
Here’s a picture of Sugar just a few weeks before her first heart attack. She was being lazy this time, so I got her lying down. Isn’t she totes adorbs? IMG_20120604_130720
so awkward just lying there. silly dog.

Anyway, so I kinda segued into this: I mentioned last post that I want to make sure I've kept my word and actually told you about the things that I didn't finish telling you about. Like the secret project I was working on, or stuff like that. So today I’ll be going through my posts from this year and making sure I followed through. Look for Follow-Through Posts next week!


  1. I'm glad you were able to get this all down. I know you are not an animal person but I also know you are very caring. In some ways I was surprised that you dedicated a while post to Sugar but at the same time I'm not surprised at all. You care deeply and that's one of the great things about you.

    1. I was kinda surprised that I did, too, but it's so weird around the house without her, so I do miss her. Ha, I would say that I'm not really an animal person but I am a dog person, especially if it's my dog! :)
      Thanks for your encouraging words! :) Best roomie ever, for sure :)

  2. Aw, Bek, I didn't know Sugar had died. Despite being a chocolate thief, she was a good dog. Love you, and actually I didn't know you weren't a yay-animal person, so I learned something new about you from this post. Which reminds me, I have a conversation topic for us next time we talk. :)

    1. Oh, I'm sorry to tell you this way, Dahls! :(
      Yes, she was a good dog, and a pretty good thief, although that is not commendable :)
      Oh? I'm excited to hear it, so let's talk soon!
      PS Don't you have google chat????