It is hard to imagine that there is anyone else in the world that feels the depth of sorrow over the loss of a loved one, an adopted loved one, a pet. My dad died, a terrible painful death...he was a great dad, it was hard, sad but I understood. Then the first member of the family cousins again lost to a painful cancer prolonged suffering withered away by chemo, so sad, soul searching that could have been me! Here I sit thinking that tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of the day I lost my heart, our heart because my husband is in the raptured tortured condition thinking of the day Turley passed away.
Just one year to the July day that Turley came to live with us she collapsed in front of her Dad, frothing at the mouth and body splayed to the back porch floor. To this day I can't explain the instinct to grab our phone while running to see what happened and then without discussion I dialed a number that was so very committed to memory, our local veterinary office. This was Sunday; emergency calls came with a wait from initiation to response. Her condition escalated and still no return call. Our decision to hop in our vehicle and make the 2 mile trek toward the Doc's office seemed to be the only action to take. With phone forwarded to cell we were off. Shortly thereafter the phone rang with the doctor on the way. I could not ever know the exact period of time because it seemed to an eternity sitting in the parking lot for the doctor to arrive. Our first name basis due to the family plan we created by having a total of 4 furry children. Mary quickly assessed that our child our 1 year and 10 week old baby was blind and suffering from a central nervous condition that neurologically could be one of several illnesses. Time was of the essence, emergency specialties were required with the closest being a 50 mile south to Albany area of New York. This critically ill creature lay in my arms with frothing at the mouth so prolific that a stop at a mini mart with the engine running was needed to purchase a roll of paper towels to absorb this amazing amount of fluid that was nonstop. Upon arrival, a technician was standing on call waiting for us, Turley not conscious was taking from my arms. We were told to sit in the waiting room along with several other grieving parents, hour after hour went by, probably after hour 5 the attending came out to tell us that they had our little patient was stable – an IV of Valium used to control the seizures, ugly word seizure, so that is what they look like. An invitation to visit was extended; we entered the hospital ward to find this very tiny little creature sitting in the corner of a cage...a cage, she slept in our bed...she was blind and deaf shaking with an electric fan blowing to keep her body heat down. At this point, we were told to go home and await updates throughout the night and a promise that Monday morning she would be diagnosed by a Veterinary Neurologist. Don't think that the hours that followed were ones that at any point we had dry eyes; especially after a phone call late that evening from the night attending who suggested that this was most likely the terminal illness PDE an acronym we grew to distain, PUG DOG ENCEPHELITUS, this message was not delivered in a compassionate way the demeanor that one expect of a nurturing care giver of animals, it was a very cold and heartless delivery that sent us into a tailspin that truly one can't ever recover from.
Monday came with the phone introduction of a gentle male voice, caring sharing the facts of what we were dealing with but as in all science confirmation via medical tests, ones not covered by insurance unless one had the foresight in pet insurance, in order to complete diagnosis and treat accordingly. MRI and spinal tap would be the most conclusive tests. Once we gave the authorization via VISA it was scheduled. Suspicion was confirmed our baby was one of the 1% of the Pug population to suffer from this genetic disease. Google it you won't find an optimistic outcome by any stretch – good prognosis is 1 ½ years from onset of seizures. Some reach remission if you are lucky and looking back I had such high expectations as to how things would play out after finding a wonderful story about a little girl named Payton who made it for 6 years with this horrible illness. By Tuesday were received the call that discharge could be arranged if we thought that we could accept the challenge of taking care of such an ill creature. Neither of us could phantom such a concept, we could not make the trip any quicker to see and hold our baby again. Upon arrival, a consultation with pages of typed instruction and vials of medications were placed in a plastic bag that had a cute caricature of a brown puppy on the side. The image on the x-ray monitor showed the portion of Turley's brain that had been destroyed by the Encephalitis, however a disclaimer about the small amount of brain that is actually needed for the canine to function. There was still some hope for the quality of life for the short term.
Turley was different from the beginning from the time we met, the bond that happened the moment she was placed in my arms and then while standing next to my husband she rolled into his arms with the same instantaneous emotion, love at first sight. Silly and smart, gosh she was smart. Potty training was not an issue for this puggie, so unlike her 2 stubborn older siblings. Fun and obedient, she was the only one of our children who was weaned by sleeping in her human parent's bed. Travel was her passion; no mode of transportation was daunting to her as long as we were there. Favorite trips to NYC being pushed all over the city in her baby stroller stopping just long enough for strangers who wanted a quick selfie and pat on the head. Her charismatic joy brought happiness to all who encountered her.
The months went by, 18 of them, day to day some good some bad. To assist our Neurologist with tracking her condition a daily journal was kept with the never ending ebb and tide of Turley's status. Impossible to count the number of times that the medication was changed or tweaked the last 5 months of her life she slept in a baby crib due to periodic blindness.
The challenges that arise from the PDE suffer are great, the medical evaluation can be frightening to the patient, not for Turley, she would roll in the door to see Dr. Bishop sitting in her stroller capturing giggles from all watching this funny looking baby wearing a hat appropriate for the season. The fasting and blood draws were so difficult but we could make it all better with a stop at McDonalds for sausage and egg or Starbucks for a toasted bagel with butter. Even her last day, the day of pain, drugs to suppress her seizures kept her barely lucid, an infection in her rear paw and infection in her eye still didn't keep her from loving me, the snuggle that she would do every time I picked her up and then lying on the table in Mary's office where they laid a fleece blanket for warmth and softness Turley kissed me for the last time, with a shot she began her decline to drift away from us and then with the sign to her Dad that said I will love you forever the single tear in her eye.
Forever the struggle of knowing that the most special creature came into our lives and gave us something so special so impossible to define to understand and magical experience that dreams can't even conjure and yet being mad at the universe for taking away the most special being ever to have loved her Mommy and Daddy.