Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Hardest Post I’ve Ever Had to Write

I know it has been a while, peeps, but it has been a long, heartbreaking week at Casa Bunny. Our oldest dogter, Savannah, had a bad turn for the worse and there was no choice but to give her peace this past Wednesday. Needless to say, her passing has left a huge hole in our hearts that will never be filled—she was our first dog and will always be one-of-a-kind.

We adopted Savannah when she was a little over 2 years old. The first 1.5ish years we were married, we lived in an apartment and could not have pets, but we watched Westminster every year, looking at breeds and talked about what kind of dog we would have one day. We narrowed down our choices to a short list, with Cairn Terrier at the top.

After we bought our house, we started looking for our dog. It took us almost a year, but in Spring 1999, I saw an ad in the Atlanta paper for an adult Cairn Terrier. The next weekend, we drove south of Atlanta to McDonough where we met Savannah for the first time.

Her mom was a breeder who had recently divorced and could not financially afford to keep breeding, so she was finding new homes for her adult dogs. From the moment we saw her, we knew Savannah was special. And spunky. In fact, while we were there, she escaped from her fenced yard and there we were, with her mom, chasing her down the street. Undaunted, we took her home that day, full of excitement.

That evening, we took her to my ‘rents for dinner. She walked in the back door, head and tail high, no fear, and immediately pooped in the middle of my mom’s living room floor. That was Savannah. She ruled the room and had such personality….really the best personality of any dog I’ve known. She was feisty, spirited, loved to meet people and loved to “go”…on rides, to the park for walks, even to the vet office. She was so typical terrier and yet had her own special way that was all Savannah.

About 5 years ago, Savannah was diagnosed with diabetes. I remember I took her on a Saturday morning to the vet, and when they told me, I cried all weekend, thinking it was her death sentence. While it was a hardship in many ways, her diagnosis also was somewhat of a blessing. For one, after she was diagnosed, no one wanted to keep her anymore when we went away because they were scared of giving her injections, so we started taking Savannah and Pepsi with us on every vacation which gave us more time with them.

The last 3 years (until this past February), I worked from home, which allowed me to keep an eye on Savannah. I also was finally able to forge a small bond with Savannah where she would actually come to me and seemed to sorta like me. See, she was a Daddy’s girl through and through. She and the hubs had a special bond from day one….that dog loved Mr. Martha and he loved her like sweets (that’s a whole lot).

I realized around Christmas that Savannah would probably not make it another year. She had a really bad bout with her diabetes right before the holidays, then another in March. But, in the end, it wasn’t her diabetes but just advanced age compounded by multiple health problems that conquered her. She always bounced back, for so many years, and this time she just couldn’t.

Last weekend, we noticed her cheek was starting to swell. We took her to the vet Monday morning and they diagnosed an abscessed tooth. The vet was preparing to remove it when Savannah went into distress, but she revived. Monday evening, I brought her home and spent time just sitting beside her, petting her. I think I knew the end was near. I thought maybe a few weeks, a few months at the very best.

Tuesday I went to work, but was worried about her, so I asked my boss if I could leave and work from home. I watched her all day as she mostly slept. We went to bed Tuesday evening remarking that she seemed somewhat better. We thought maybe our bounce-back girl would bounce back yet again.

Sadly, it was not the case. Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. we woke up to her moaning. She was lying on our bedroom floor in a puddle of her own urine, panting fast and shallow and non-responsive. We immediately called the vet and drove her there (it has been a comfort that our vet office takes their own emergency call and this time, more than ever). Right before we left, Savannah got on her own feet, and seemed okay. At the vet’s office, however, the Dr. said her lungs did not sound good. Savannah stayed at the vet office, and later they did an X-ray. Her heart was enlarged and her lungs surrounded in fluid. The tooth and her diabetes probably/maybe were making it all worse, but I was going to pick her up and bring her home for now.

Shortly before I arrived at the vet office Wednesday afternoon, Savannah took a sudden turn for the worse. Her breathing became very labored, they had to give her oxygen. I didn’t fully understand until I saw her and saw the distress she was in. There was no choice…I knew we had to let her go. I called the hubs, who was on his way home and told him to come immediately, that she was not coming home. The vet held her until he arrived so I could talk to her and pet her. I don’t know if she ever knew I was there, but when her Daddy walked in and petted her, she stopped panting for a few seconds and looked up at him. I know she at least knew he had arrived and was there with her. We said our goodbyes among many, many tears and stayed by her side while the vet gave her the peace she needed.

While I knew this day was coming sooner rather than later, I was not prepared. I thought I was going to pick her up and bring her home, not say my final goodbye. But I suppose no amount of being prepared makes losing a beloved part of your family easier. She was our first pet, our furry child, our dogter. It hurts horribly. There is no way I can even begin to explain what a big part of our life she has been.

We have spent the past two days grieving, remembering and questioning. I know we gave her a wonderful life, but you always wonder “what if” and feel some amount of guilt, wondering if you could have done more to give her one more day, spent more time with her, fed her some “good food.”

There also is guilt in the relief that she is at peace. I admit that the past year with Savannah has been trying. I loved her, but I did not like the dog she had become due to her age and health. She was a huge eggshell of grumpiness that everyone in our home tiptoed around; however, she would occasionally have a “good day” or moment when the real Savannah shone through in all her glory.

Small things trigger fresh tears. Yesterday as I was eating breakfast, I looked over to her spot where she would sit and watch us eat, waiting for that crumb to fall, and thought “where’s Savannah?” before I remembered. Meal time, bed time, coming home from work are all reminders she is no longer here.

This morning, the hubs said he was starting to feel the tiniest bit better, which he felt a little guilty about. I agreed about feeling a tiny bit better, but said I did not feel guilty. I cannot wait until the day I can think about Savannah, remembering the good times and the joy she brought to our lives and not feel this hurt in my heart.

Savannah “Puddin’” Edwards
Our Beloved Dogter
December 30, 1996 – June 9, 2010

PS, Here is Savannah's Last Birthday Post if 
you'd like to see a happier post about her life.


Janice said...

Beautifully written. She was one is a million. She was my "granddogter". Thank you, God, for giving her to us to love and enjoy. Love you, Savannah. Miss you more. Grammy

Sonya said...

Such a loving tribute. Glad to hear your hearts are beginning to heal, ever so slowly. OXOXO

Bo said...

Oh I'm so sorry.

Little Miss Sunshine State said...

Thanks for telling us her story. She was a beauty.

Jen on the Edge said...

This was such a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

blackbird said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Bunny...what a difficult time for you both.



Anonymous said...

Oh man...tears as I read this. No words for you...cuz I know it's coming soon for me with my Sam (15 years). What a great life she lived with so much love. Time will heal but for now it's okay to mourn! There is nothing like the loyalty and love of a dog.

Big Sis said...

A fitting tribute for a beautiful dog. Savannah was one of a kind! Loved seeing all of the pictures again.

Elisabeth said...

As hard as it was to do, thank you for writing this post. It is a beautiful tribute to Savannah. She was so lucky to have you & Kerry as parents, and I know that she had a much longer and happier life than she would have had without you. Most would not have loved her to the extent (or cost) that you did. Our thoughts, prayers are with you.

I got your message - sorry not to call you back yesterday. We had a wedding out of town on Friday & were at my parents on Saturday when you called. We'll talk this week. Love you!

bunny said...

Thanks, everyone. She was a great dog, a beauty who we were lucky to have, as well, and I also thank God for blessing us with her. As the hubs said, fair or not, every other dog we have will have her memory to live up to.

Tiffany said...

Oh Bun...I am so, so sorry. I completely understand how you feel because we lost our dogter, Sadie, in April (the day before my b-day). Sadie was a wedding present and was with us for 15 years and 7 months. People who don't love dogs just don't understand the hole that is left in your heart when you lose your doggie child. I know how you and your hubby feel. I was Sadie's person and it's so empty not to have her. I know we will both feel better with time, but it will be hard. You have my kindest regards. :-(

Thanks for writing such a beautiful tribute for Savannah. It's obvious what a special dog she was and how much you loved her.

KP said...

That was so eloquently written. A beautiful tribute. Love to you and Mr. Martha, and peace to Savannah.

Fannie said...

So, so sorry! I can't get over how much she looked like our Fiona. Fi will be 16 this August, just a tad older than your girl. I'm giving her an extra hug tonight. :(

bunny said...

Thanks, Tiff, KP and Fannie. Tiff, so sorry to hear about your Sadie. Yes, people who don't have "fur children" don't always understand but I am lucky that I am surrounded at work and home by people who love four-legged folks. Savannah was also such a great dog that she "won over" some family members who were "on the fence" about dogs! :)