"RUFFITWOOD DANCING SPRING"
12 March 2000 - 24 May 2010
affectionately known as...
This is the day that I said goodbye to my dearest companion...
The account that follows is a graphic description of his last moments.
I will not feel offended at all if you prefer not to read it.
Indeed, I will understand.
I need to honor my own committment to this journey : to reveal to my readers, in all honesty, the experience I have personally had with my Maxdog. His final moments, I feel, are equally important and hopefully will serve to strengthen others who are in similar heartbreaking circumstances. I write best when I am at my most emotive.
ONLY READ THIS IF YOU ARE UP TO IT!
MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA
THE PASSING OF MAXDOG...
The decision having been made, I found his lead and called him with me. He had been sleeping silently next to me and got up, shook himself off and went to the car with me. Together we rode the 8kms to the Vet. He sat in the back of the car, staring out the window as he’s always done. Golden sunlight was streaming through the windows, framing his features, giving him a heavenly glow. I could see the tiredness in his eyes and knew that it was time to say goodbye.
Max, the fighter that he is, would have fought to the bitter end. Had I not taken the decision, he’d have fought on, becoming more emaciated by the day. The liver tumour took up most of his abdominal cavity, yet he pushed on and lived life to the absolute overflowing.
I parked the car outside the Vet’s surgery, retrieved my handbag and went around to open the boot of the car. With ears alert and eyes alive he jumped out of the back. His first point of call was the bush on the lawn. This is where he left his last news of the day.
Thankfully there was only one other person in the waiting room – a lady whom I’d rubbed shoulders with many years back. Max immediately went to greet her, wagging his tail the way he always did with new people. She responded in the way people always responded to Max – rubbing his fur and telling him what a handsome boy he was. His tail said it all. He loved people!
She stopped chatting with him for a while and went to settle the administration she had come to settle. Then she turned back to me, sat down and told me all about how she had recently lost a Golden retriever of her own. Then she asked, “What is he here for”. There was no other way of saying it, but honestly.
“I’m here to put him to sleep” I said. Her face turned ashen as she struggled to comprehend what I was saying. You see, Max always looked good, even when he was dying. He hid his illness well, refusing to accede to it. When not soundly asleep (which had been most of the time in his 107days of grace) he was reaping life for all that it offered except for his eating. He had taken to refusing to eat. In his last few days he'd accept nibbles form me, but would keep them in his mouth and spit them out later. Either that, or he'd bury them. But he remained comfortable with an affectionate disposition. My prediction was that he would have wagged his tail to the end, no matter how ill he had become. His tail would be the last to leave him, I am sure of that.
“Shall I stay?” she offered.
“Don’t worry!” I said, “I’ll be okay”, but my tears had started.
My usual Vet was otherwise occupied, but the new Vet – a young, gentle and beautiful woman – came out to meet me. I called Max to come and he obediently followed me into the consulting room. Again he was wagging his tail in greeting and started making friends with this new person. She petted him, looked to me and asked me what she could do for me.
I recapped Max’s history, the successful removal of the Mast Cell tumour in November 2009 and then the heartbreaking news in February this year (2010) that his liver was compromised with a large tumour. I went on to explain all that had happened to him recently. She then examined him and was taken aback at the size of the tumour. It occupied most of his abdominal cavity. Underneath his thick fur, he’d become obviously emaciated.
Together we decided that it would be best to put Max to sleep. His condition was both irreversible and fatal and there was no guarantee of a pleasant passing. It was time to say good-bye. She left me with Max and said she would return soon. I asked him to “Down” and he did. I told him to “Dead” and he lay on his side like he'd been taught. I sat on the floor and told him it would be okay, that we would all be okay, that it was time to go. I hugged him and spoke to him while he thumped his tail on the floor. That was the most heartbreaking moment for me.
“Nicolle” returned and set up the needle. She wanted to call someone else, but I refused and told her I would help her. I held Max’s arm whilst she administered the final dose. I tucked my other hand under his chest so that I could feel his heartbeat. All the time, he thumped his tail on the floor. My Max was going to be a thumper to the last. He let out his last audible sound and then he was gone. His heart had stopped under my palm. She confirmed this with her stethoscope. Then she gently consoled me and said that I could stay with him until I was ready to leave. It had been quick and painless.
I held him as my tears flowed. I could feel his warm but lifeless body in my arms. His spirit had left his body, yet it was still present in the room. I held him like that for what seemed ages and then I gathered up his lead and opened the inter-leading door to indicate that I was finished. That beautiful, gentle Vet, with her soft, acknowledging manner reaffirmed that what I had done was an act of love. A very difficult act yes, but an act of love nevertheless. I had granted Max the dignity which he deserved.
When I entered the waiting room, I fell into the arms of that same woman who had met Max. Together, this stranger and I cried in each other’s arms. Then she left.
...and sadly I didn't get her name!
Thank you, ‘stranger’ for being my angel when I needed it. You have no idea how much your gesture meant to me.
Fly free, my sweet Max!