Thanksgiving dinner had come and gone and my dog Emma sat on the floor by the table with our family and seemed physically fine. We gave her a little bit of turkey and the same amount of love and hugs and kisses she had gotten the past 13 years. She had some signs of arthritis, but we would always make sure she got her exercise, and because she loved the snow, I threw some in the air for her to catch in her mouth just that morning.
I was watching a movie in my basement that evening when I heard her coming down the stairs to me. It was hard for her to get up stairs, but she always wanted to be around someone, and that dog loved me so much. This past May, she suffered her first (from what I witnessed) grand mal seizure. The vet claimed it was a brain tumor so we put her on Phenobarbital only to witness a second at-home seizure that June. Our regular, non-emergency vet, found her blood sugar levels had been at 600. She almost died that day but I got her to the clinic in time. She was diagnosed with diabetes and was on a twice-daily routine of insulin. Her vision deteriorated greatly over the past year, but she still went for her walks and followed us all around like a shadow. However, when I went to get Emma her shot Thursday, she froze up in fear and went into her first of five seizures that night.
The veterinarian at the emergency hospital told my mother and I that her blood sugar levels were only slightly high, and the probable cause of her seizures was likely a brain tumor. So which was it? Was she diabetic with bouts of epilepsy, diabetic with other undiagnosed complications from her diabetes, was she diabetic and had brain tumors? I’m pissed just thinking about the lack of clarity. Tests and CT scans would run upwards of $3,000 dollars, and if the vet was right, what could we have done with that diagnosis, anyway? Anesthesia is dangerous for an older dog, and removing a brain tumor? Forget about it.
The next morning I went back to the animal hospital to have Emma relieved of her suffering. I can’t be sure if I made the right decision by not going into the room to watch her last breath. They gave us time in a separate room where she came in and wagged her tail, and I cried more than I ever thought was possible. I feel full of regret and guilt. Did I scare Emma into a seizure? If she never came downstairs with me, would she be alive today? This is my first significant loss of any sort, ever. I am having an extremely hard time handling the pain of being home. I have found that being with my boyfriend and friends helps, but I have to come home eventually, and her bed and toys and food dish are gone.
Emma was so full of love. Anyone that ever knew her was filled with positivity, if only for a moment. She loved everything and everyone. She never needed a leash and always stayed right in the yard. I cannot imagine owning a greater pet. But right now, nothing more consumes me than the last image of Emma at home, in my bedroom, taking the Milkbone treats without hesitation, then falling into a seizure again. I get to points where I think about the cremation process, and picture her lying there ready to be turned into ashes. It’s morbid, and I know I need to think of memories, but my brain won’t let me think of anything but the awful stuff. I really don’t know what to think, because we don’t know the official reason for having her put down. I don’t even know how to begin this healing process.