Of Family Memories with Our Beloved Dog
The L.A. Daily News had a Sunday column by Patricia Bunin titled “Just How Much Does a Chair Hold? Plenty It Seems.”
As Bunin cleaned out her garage, the person helping her asked what she wanted to do with her chairs. Bunin remembered how her husband convinced her to purchase them and how they enjoyed sitting in them at outdoor summer concerts. “When Michael Feinstein sang our song ‘Someone to Watch over Me,’ George reached for my hand.”
Now George was deceased and Bunin wrote, “I wanted the chairs, covered in the dust of twilights shared. Music seeping from the blue fibers. Moments of fingers entwined chair-to-chair. . . .I wanted the chairs, not for this summer but for some summer.”
Our sweet girl Olive was put down yesterday (Saturday). My husband, three adult children and our other dog, Shadow, all walked up to the Palisades Veterinary Center to see her off.
As I read Bunin’s column today, I knew exactly what she meant—she wanted more than the memories, she wanted that part of her life back.
Even though our little pooch was having trouble standing, I wanted her back. I wanted her back like she had been since we adopted her from a street corner on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, 10 years ago.
This was the dog that saw my youngest child through his teens, helped my oldest son through jaw surgery and provided a needed confident for my daughter. This was the dog that didn’t particularly like to walk but loved to nap. An easy dog, a dog that liked to be next to people.
Out of the clear blue about a month ago, Olive had a seizure in the middle of the night. The next day, my husband and I went to see Dr. Holly Jordan, who ran a blood test. It came back showing elevated kidney and liver enzymes. One of the causes of seizures is liver disease and kidney failure.
We started Olive on liver pills and a special diet for the kidneys, which she mostly ignored, plying me for treats instead.
She was still not the old Olive, so we went back to the vet, and this time it was Dr. Kathy Litochleb who saw us. She suggested that if it was a kidney issue, maybe giving her fluids would help. For the next two weeks, Shadow and I went to the vet with Olive for her “dialysis” every afternoon.
She seemed to be doing marginally better, but still was up several times each night. My husband or I would also get up and watch over her when she went outside. There are too many coyotes in our area.
This past Wednesday she stopped eating and her blood was rechecked on Friday. The values were worse.
We had hoped that somehow she would get better, but a diagnosis of “end stages of renal failure” meant that wasn’t going to happen. Dr. L. told us that kidney disease is especially painful and dogs are nauseous.
I Googled kidney disease in dogs and learned that the signs don’t appear until about 75 percent of kidney function has been lost – and it can’t be reversed.
Olive was having trouble walking and couldn’t get comfortable. She would go from one doggy bed to the floor to another location to outside.
The family wanted a magic pill to give her, so that she could be our “baby” Olive again. We wanted her to lie next to us napping, when we napped. We wanted her to be just like it had always been.
Finally, no matter how many times we wished it, we all agreed that we didn’t want to see her suffer any longer.
The next day we walked to Via de la Paz, Olive in her doggie carrier and Shadow on the leash. We went into a darkened room. In just a few minutes Olive was peaceful.
The doctors at the Palisades Veterinary Center were wonderful in answering our questions and willingness to try solutions. Ultimately, they were sympathetic.
Just like the subtle scent of jasmine that occurs in the winter, Olive was with us and then gone.