Life on the farm with the Man…and our critters…

Archive for July, 2014

The Last Goodbye…

IMG_1886I said goodbye to a friend the other day.  Grief overcame me in waves as we picked and prepared a spot for him to be buried.  We chose a spot next to the new fence we had recently put up, and just a few feet from the fire pit.  Having him close was important to me, and I was determined to make the spot beautiful, with a large stone to mark his grave, with some new plants and perhaps some mulch.  I was far too exhausted that night to start work on the landscaping, but made a vow to be up early the next day to finish what we had started.  I was so engulfed in my own grief that it never dawned on me that the Man would want to help, and I was genuinely surprised that he was beside me, with a cup of coffee in one hand, and a rake in the other.  Thankfully, we had the tractor to help gently place the stone that we had picked, prominently marking the spot where he lay.  Before we started planting the rhododendrons and hostas that we had bought, we let Gracie and Dewey out to join us, more for my comfort than their want.  Instead of going off to play or do whatever it is that dogs do when they are free to roam, they never left our sides.  Dewey was more than eager to help dig holes for the plants, and then again”helped” me spread the mulch as the Man brought it over with the tractor.  Gracie sat a few feet away, intently watching and supervising.  Whereas the day before had been a blur of last visits from friends, with both laughter and tears, this day was for the four of us.  Throughout the project we cried, we laughed at Dewey as he helped, sat with Gracie and shared quiet moments, and when it was finished, we stood together and cried again.  The two dogs ran and played, and it filled our hearts with joy to see.  When they finally tired, Dewey claimed a spot under a nearby bush as his new den, and Gracie was back by our side.  And as a family, we had peace.  What I had set out to do alone, with my grief, we had done as a family, and we mourned together.  Earlier tonight, we again gathered out on the lawn near his spot, and played as a family.  And as I have for the last 11 years, I felt Kody’s presence…and I knew he was smiling…


The Commitment…

KodyHe needed help from the Man getting up on the couch beside me earlier, and he will remain there for the evening.  His hind legs, which are betraying him more each day, lay up against my right leg.  The old muscles in his sleeping body twitch as he dreams, and I wonder if in his dream he is still young as he chases the squirrels that have taunted him since the day he arrived on the Farm.  He is 11 now, and we had hoped that we still had a handful of years left with him.  He is nearly blind and mostly deaf, but all that came upon him so gradually, I don’t think he ever really missed it.  He never was very bright, and has gone through life being blissfully free of worry and care.  Before the first set of seizures, there was never any sign that something unwelcome may have been growing inside of his head.  All tests came back normal, with the only option left being a tumor in his brain.  Medications followed, and for a time he was better…but never the same.  Each seizure left him a little bit more vacant and unsure, and the Kody we knew slowly started to fade away.  He had his moments though, and we rejoiced each time he was present, and we felt blessed each time he visited.  What we had hoped would take months has turned into a few short weeks.  The medications that at first slowed the seizures is now hastening the process, and for the first time our discussions include the words “quality of life”.  Our other dogs, Gracie and Dewey, are never far from his side, and their sadness deepens daily.

We never thought that we would “know when it was time”.  Rather, we both believed that Kody would tell us when it was time, when he was ready to go.  The possibility that he wouldn’t be able to tell us never crossed our mind…until today.  No matter the cause, whether seizures, medicines or tumors, Kody is fading just as rapidly mentally as he is physically.  The daily decline is going faster and faster, and the days of him sharing his needs with us are mostly gone.  He has regressed, and behaves much more like a puppy with no table manners.  Our fear is that within days he will no longer recognize us for who we are..something we have already glimpsed in him.  For the most part, we are still able to comfort him, and reassure him when he is confused and scared.  Waiting until he is so far gone that our presence and touch will mean nothing to him in the end is what I fear the most.  He has been a faithful companion for many years, never wavering in his love and commitment to the Man and me.  It is now our responsibility to make sure he feels our love up to the very last moment…