There are so many aspects to loss. In this area I’m not very good at knowing what I’m feeling let alone expressing it or sharing it with others. My grief is pretty well buried, at least for now. But losing Isaac means so many things to me in my day-to-day life. Towards the end, I spent my time only in rooms that Isaac was in so we could be together. He could only barely drag himself onto his feet on a good day so we didn’t move around the house too much. He only dragged himself to his feet if I tried to quickly run off and use the bathroom only to discover that he was so motivated to find me that I couldn’t pee and get back fast enough for him. Otherwise, Jim and I were always there to help him to his feet and guide him to wherever he wanted to go.
Until the end he wanted to eat his meals where everyone (all the dogs) ate — in the food room (which used to be our dining room). He insisted on standing to eat. I started finding ways to elevate his food bowl a little more, bit by bit, to make it as easy as possible for him to eat. He got pretty picky about his food towards the end. I made it my business to spoil him with either wonderful canned dog foods that wouldn’t upset his tummy or human food. One of his favorites is that Sara Lee Soft and Smooth White (is that what it’s called – well, ALL the dogs loved it and it was great for giving medications). During some meals I tried out 3 different cans of dog food, human baby food (another favorite), chicken, steak, vanilla fat-free yogurt (Isaac really liked this) to tempt him to eat and keep up his strength. When Isaac was pretty much full he sometimes couldn’t continue to stand and sank to the floor.
The upstairs and downstairs of our house pretty much didn’t exist anymore. We lived on the main floor except when I left the house altogether. Isaac wanted the safety and comfort of seeing me near him so that’s where I tried to be. During the day, working at my laptop, which I moved to the kitchen table, placing me between the family room and kitchen, I could keep a close watch on Isaac and how he was doing, and he could keep a close watch on me and know I was here.
Throughout the day I concocted and offered what I hoped would be yummy, watery mixtures to get fluids into him. I used ice chips when I was tired or out of ideas. Isaac liked the ice chips. I just had to keep other dogs, especially Evie, away so that they wouldn’t steal Isaac’s ice chips while he slowly munched on them. To keep him comfortable I gave him subcutaneous fluids but this wasn’t the favorite part of his day so it wasn’t the favorite part of my day either. Well, it wasn’t the favorite part of our day until I hit on the idea of giving him a baby jar of either baby lamb or chicken. He’d be happily occupied with his little jar of food while I poked and maneuvered the needle to get those fluids into him. This made us both happy.
I had created a bed for Isaac in a corner, up against the side of a couch where he could easily see me when I was working at the kitchen table or working in the kitchen. Most nights we all went to sleep in the living room — converted into a bedroom so we could stay on the main floor. Isaac had a cushy, memory foam pad next to the bed, which was an aerobed that was on the floor. This way I could easily hear Isaac if he was having trouble. Sometimes if he needed to go out during the night I could hear him thumping, thumping as he rocked his body trying to position himself so he could stand up. When he couldn’t do that he’d give his soft little woofs to wake me and signal he needed something.
When it became apparent that going outside during the night might become more frequent we spent our nights in the family room, Isaac on his bed and me, next to him, on the couch. As long as I could open my eyes and easily see him and hear him, hear his breathing…I was okay. Maybe it was that way for Isaac too.
I helped my brave little boy down the ramp and up the ramp when we went outside. How proud I was when he’d sometimes walk himself back inside the house all by himself. Despite his difficulties standing and walking he always enjoyed roaming the yard, smelling the smells, and even checking out the other dogs. He loved the snow. He was always so good…he seemed to insist that he go to his potty spot, unfortunately at the far end of the yard (he picked that out, not me). He was always so happy after he went potty. You know how some dogs seem to do a little dance after they go — Isaac did that. I loved it.
When going down the ramp looked like it might be too difficult Jim and I carried him. He’d walk around the yard, go potty, and satisfy his curiosity to smell this or that and then, when he was ready, I’d lift that bundle of love into my arms and carry him back inside. We often put him down in front of an elevated bowl of water to encourage him to drink. Sometimes he was interested and sometimes he wasn’t.
My whole life is changed now. There is so much that I no longer need to do. I’m still sitting at the kitchen table working on my laptop. Don’t know when I’ll go back to my office desk. For awhile I had this automatic reaction of just looking up and over next to the couch where Isaac used to be. He’s not there anymore.
Although it’s true that we do have a very nice wall unit built into one end of our family room and several of the shelves are fully occupied by Pet Urns we clearly need a better solution. There’s got to be something interesting that we can do with our collection of Photo pet urns or regular dog urns. I have mixed feelings about the limited choices offered at vet offices. But once you’re there, and in the midst of a terrible loss, it’s really not something that I, at least, get too concerned with. I’m much more focused on other things. But…if any of you have any good ideas for what we could do with our collection of urns, please, please, please send your ideas this way!