Last Monday, Ty took Jaz, our 7-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier, to the vet. She’d lost a ton of weight, was having some problems with incontinence, and we had noticed swollen lymph nodes. We knew in the back of our minds, I think, what was wrong with her, but we were hoping for just a “she has a bladder infection” diagnosis. He called me at work to tell me that the vet confirmed she had lymphoma and that because of her blood counts she had 2-8 weeks to live. There was no treatment that would give her a better quality of life, it would just buy her- read: me- time. By the time the conversation was over, we were both in tears. The vet had actually said she would understand if we wanted to put her down then, but neither of us were ready for that. We decided to monitor her at home, and take her when the time was right.
I’ve never had to decide the mortality of another creature before. All of my dogs as a child died of old age and went peacefully in their sleep. Weighing when the “right time” is is something that I have wrestled with for the last 2 weeks. I certainly didn’t want her to be in pain, but I also didn’t want to feel like I didn’t give her a chance. Every time I have every scolded her or ignored her has run through my head. I’ve cried a lot.
I get that some people may not understand the emotion that comes at a time like this because she’s “just a dog.” I’m also 100% sure that those people have never been loved by one.
We got Jaz when I moved in with Ty the summer before we got engaged. She chewed up a pair of slippers, several socks, and 6 iPhone chargers. She aggravated Layla. She ran in the road more times than I thought my heart could handle. She was so hard headed we thought she was deaf. She wasn’t, she just did her own thing. She ate so fast as a puppy we had to use a tennis ball to slow her down, but was smart enough that she just removed the tennis ball and kept going. We had to feed her on a cookie sheet. She was loud and stubborn and funny.
Jaz was quick to love, kiss, and smother you with her full 91lbs. She would lick the tears off my face when I cried because of something sad on tv, because I was frustrated, or because I was heartbroken. She, in part, was the reason I realized we were losing our second baby and was the catalyst to me going to the emergency room which prevented my fallopian tube from rupturing. She made me laugh spending hours chasing her tail as a puppy or acting like a she was tough only to run and hide behind me when a plastic bag moved too fast in her direction in the yard. She has kept me warm during “no heat November” and reminded me to roll the windows down and enjoy the summer. She has protected me from every postal delivery person, pizza delivery person, and solicitor who has ever dared to ring the door bell. She has been sweet and gentle to my babies and been concerned when they’ve cried.
Today we did what I think was best for her. She brought joy and whimsy to my life, and I couldn’t let her suffer through the end of hers. So, we bought her a big breakfast, took her for one last car ride, gave her a million snuggles, and held her paw and told her what a good girl she’s always been as she crossed the rainbow bridge.
There is a story of a little boy that I read on littlethings.com who explains why dogs don’t live as long. Shane, the boy in the story said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long…” It is true, but I wish she could have stayed a while longer. I will miss you girl.