Monday was bad in epic proportion. The dashing of dreams, refers to that. But I will get to that later in a different post. Because, as bad as it was…it was a trip to Disneyland in comparison to yesterday. Today? Well…see for yourself.
The house is quiet, and I’m a mess. Still in my pajamas, even after taking The Girls to school. Sobbing. Probably only a matter of time before it turns into weeping, because I am exhausted, and will not have the energy left required to sob.
I miss Lester. A lot.
I got Lester in November 1998, when I traveled back home to attend my Granny’s funeral. He was the last of a litter of puppies my brother John’s dog, Aubie, had birthed. My brother had already named him Lester, after our Papa, and it really seemed to fit. The picture above was taken about a month after I got him. My reason for wanting him was simple: I had a tiny Miniature Dachshund named Edie who had been an only dog for a year, and she needed a friend. So I paid fifty bucks I didn’t have to put him on the plane with me. She was overjoyed to have a playmate and they have been buddies ever since. At one point, they tried to be more than friends, but we “nipped that in the bud”…literally. Lol. Shortly after Lester came to live with me and Edie, we all went to live with The Man at the beach. It was the beginning of our family. Two lovebirds and their K-9 babies
Over the years, we added to our family. Three precious daughters and a revolving door of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, lizards, bunnies….you name it! We are animal lovers, what else can I say? Each time a new critter came to hang out at our house, Edie and Lester just shrugged it off. They reigned supreme, and they knew it. We had them first. The Girls have been raised to love living creatures, so it’s no surprise that I have a treasure trove of priceless memories involving them and our pets. If y’all have pets, I’m sure you understand. The obvious drawback, is they don’t live forever. A reality our little family is faced with yet again, in less than a year.
Almost a year ago, and just 3 weeks after we lost Leroi, our King Charles Cavalier to diabetes, Lester had a seizure while hanging out on the front lawn. The Man immediately rushed him to the vet. The diagnosis we received sucked. He had a Stage 3 heart murmur and was in congestive heart failure. Due to his robust size…almost 14 pounds…his heart was working in over-drive to circulate his blood. As a result, fluid was collecting around his heart and in his belly, putting pressure on everything. What I thought was a seizure, what in actuality, a heart attack. Essentially, his heart was being squeezed and his breathing compromised. All because he liked to catch scraps more than he liked to exercise, bless his bones! The vet said he would be lucky to make it another year. Medication was prescribed, and he was sent home. We vowed to let him enjoy the time he had left. No holds barred
All of us, but especially The Girls, took a renewed interest in him. Loved on him more, took him on extra walks, tried to no avail to teach him to play around, rather than just lay around. At first, his medication seemed to keep fluid retention and mini-heart attacks at bay, and put the spring back in his step. Of course all the attention certainly did! The Oldest even began having him sleep with her at night. Lester LOVED that, and sort of became her personal protector. He would seek her out at bedtime, and make her follow him to her room. HE was tired, and it didn’t matter if she was or not. LOL. But we all knew the inevitable was going to happen. We just didn’t know when. An agonizing purgatory to be caught in.
About 3 months ago, his ‘episodes’ increased. They became more frequent. Instead of having them once in a while, when he got excited, they often happened a couple of times a day, unprovoked, and he would lose control of his bladder/bowels. Then he would stand back up, and appear normal. However, we noticed a change in his personality. The spark was fading from his eye, he no longer stood at our feet begging for food. You want to know the most notable change though?
He stopped his sympathetic crying.
Throughout the course of The Girls lives, anytime Lester heard the sound of them crying, he howled like a banshee. Having 3 daughters in the house, you can imagine the amount of crying we witnessed…daily. Lester’s “sympathy” was a running joke among friends and family members. Inevitably, I would be on the phone talking to someone, a sibling rivalry would break out, causing an injury, and one or more of The Girls would cry. Lester would instantaneously begin making a sound that can only be described as shrill and eardrum splitting. “EYE, EYE, EYE, EYE..,” he would howl! In the midst of it all, the doorbell might ring, just because God thought it would add to the chaos and be damn funny. I swore I was going to get it all on video someday, but I couldn’t ever manage to diffuse all the problems and get everyone calmed down while handling a recording device. Go figure.
Anyway, about 2 weeks ago the CHF really started digging in and it was clear his time was approaching. His fluid medication was no longer controlling the retention very well. Despite continuing to eat, he was losing weight everywhere except his belly, and his mobility became compromised as a result. He didn’t want to walk anymore. Nothing to do but wait until he indicated he was ready to let go, or that he was in pain. So far, he hadn’t given us any indication of that. Until Sunday morning, when he refused food for the first time in his life. Then Monday night, he started whining. I stayed up with him all night, cradling him in my arms and making him as comfortable as possible. When he lost control of his bladder, I bathed him in warm water, and gently dried him with the blow dryer. I hugged him as tight as I possibly could, without adding to his discomfort, while rocking and whispering to him how much we loved him and how we were going to miss him. I also told him about whom he could expect to see and play with in Heaven: Mama and Daddy; Leroi; Aubie (his mama); Hannah (my sister’s dog); Zoe & Ginger (my in-laws doggies); Mazzy & Keely (Vicky’s kitties); Sasha (Grace’s dog); Lucca (Shea’s dog) and Ben (our neighbor’s dog). I wanted to make sure he knew he would be in good company
Yesterday morning, The Man said his farewell to Lester before leaving for work. The Girls gave their before heading out to school. They were very brave, and no tears were shed. After the trauma of our loss a year ago, they were, obviously more prepared than I for the void about to be created in our lives. Once everyone had been delivered to their obligatory places, it was up to me. So, with a heart as heavy as stone, yet as fragile as glass, I pulled up my bootstraps, gathered him in his favorite blanket, and drove the half mile to the vet, with him in my lap. For his last visit. It was time to say goodbye to our precious doggie after 13.5 years. He was suffering, and we all knew it. It was the right thing to do, because he needed to rest peacefully.
The weather was shitty. Cold, gray and rainy. It’s the same today. Having called ahead, they were expecting me, and the entire staff was very sad. They knew Lester. They loved him too. It was awful, but their compassion made it bearable. He slipped peacefully into eternal rest, with his human mama holding his paw and kissing his nose. Once it was over, I sat in the room with him, alone, for what seemed like an eternity, yet not nearly enough time….crying.
And I haven’t stopped since.