February 09, 2010


We had a pretty lousy weekend. Yes, the Saints won an amazing Super Bowl. Yes, BB and the kids are finally over their sniffles and coughs. Yes, I got a lot of baby things done around the house. Yes, I made bread, did laundry, cleaned the house, and sent out some correspondence.

BUT...Thursday, I noticed that Rocco, our bullmastiff, hadn't eaten. At all. I was sort of concerned, but also sort of shrugged it off...after all, he'd been doing that off and on since late last summer...Friday came and went, with no food eaten. Saturday was the same. Sunday, I gave him a dog biscuit, hoping to entice him to eat, knowing he'd had nothing since Wednesday. He snarfed it down, and was sick in about an hour. Not unusual, so we went off to my folks' to watch the game. We came home, and he'd been sick again, not eaten...and then we saw it...his belly was HUGE. And I don't mean fat puppy belly...I mean, he looked like a watermelon had been lodged under the skin of his stomach sideways...he wasn't acting like he was hurting, so we went to bed and called the vet first thing Monday morning.

We took him in, and they said "X-Rays", "blood tests", "ultrasound", "exploratory surgery"...but I think I only heard them say "could be caused by congestive heart failure, liver failure or cancerous tumor causing internal bleeding". My heart sank, and with my head reeling, I left Rocco at the vet for tests.

Several hours later, they called to let us know that the X-rays had revealed nothing because there was too much fluid. Blood work was normal. Next option - drain fluid and examine it. Do ultrasound. They removed 3.6 L (that's a LOT of freaking fluid), and didn't get it all...they examined it, and said that they really couldn't tell us anything and that we were welcome to pick him up and take him home, then bring him back first thing this morning for the ultrasound and we'd go from there...so, we brought him home, where he drank some water, got sick, drank more water, got sick again, and then just laid around the house the rest of the night, shivering and shaking.

BB and I knew then, although we didn't want to face it, that today would only bring sadness and pain...but we went to bed, praying that maybe something positive would be able to be done and that Rocco would be able to get better.

BB took him this morning, and around 10, they called to say that the ultrasound showed a mass on his spleen. The vet could have just said that and I'd have known that it was not good...thankfully, he did all the talking while I cried, listening to him talk about prognosis and surgery and cancer, and bleeding, and he just kept saying how sorry he was. The thing of it is I know that he was sincere...Rocco was the darling of the office...always happy to be there, acting as though the staff was just a bunch of his littermates and loving on them, getting spoiled rotten every time we went...

I knew I couldn't call BB to tell him the news, and so drove down with DG to his office, where we sat in the truck in the parking lot and cried. I picked up Capt from school, took the kids to lunch at the Arches, and headed over to the vet's office. We spent 90 minutes talking to, loving on and saying good-bye to our precious, smelly, dirty, irreplaceable Rocco, and signed the paperwork for the doctor to give him the drugs and put him down.

We came home, sad, worn out, silent.

And then, tonight, as I thought I was gaining control of myself, not expecting to hear his tags jingling, or his claws clicking on my hardwood floor, as I was tucking Capt into bed, he looked up at me, his big blue eyes full of tears, and said "Mommy? I miss my dog. I want Rocco to come home again."

And I lost it. How do you explain to a 3 1/2 year old that their dog, that's ALWAYS been there, sleeping in front of or under his crib, and his door, and acting as a backstop for sitting up, pulling up, walking, and playing frisbee or ball, is gone? BB and I know why, and can fully understand "cancerous tumor" "too old and weak to survive the surgery"...but how do you tell a little boy that someone is sick and no medicine can make them better? How do you explain that Rocco is gone?

I can't bring myself to even type the "D" word...or any of the medical terms for what has happened to him since we left their office at 2:30 this afternoon.

My heart is hurting...BB is so upset and sad and I can't fix it...I can't say "don't worry honey! Just the medication for a couple weeks and he'll be as good as new"...I'm sitting here tonight wondering if I'd have just been more vigilant, more focused, more attentive, more sensitive...more tolerant, spent more time...all the feelings that go along with this kind of event...

I know there are those who might read this who are saying "uh...isn't this your dog???" because they've not been there...but I'll tell you something. Bringing home a pet, at any age or stage, changes you just as bringing home your child does...your heart opens to them, they become your friend, your buddy, the one who licks your toes, attacks the snow, chases the ball endlessly, puts their slimy, slobbery jaws in your lap because he adores you unconditionally, or lays in your lap as you try to read the paper, purring so hard and loud he squeaks...and then, when they're not there suddenly...and you realize that you'll never hear them come thundering across the yard at you, jowls flapping, tail going a mile a minute...it hurts just as much as losing a human friend or family member, because they are your family...

I remember him being so clumsy when he was a puppy...laying in my lap, and giving me a look like "Mom...why are you pushing me off?" as he got to big to actually fit there anymore...teaching him to heel, and sit, and lay down, and dance, and fetch, and how he was so patient and loving and adoring, and so protective...I feel sort of naked knowing that I'll be all alone in the house with the kids...like someone took my hand and tied it behind my back...I feel lost and sad and somehow, someway, wish that we'd had the option of "let's make him be not sick, like he was last summer please" instead of the sign here, see you in a week to take care of your bill option...

It sucks. Flat out.


Anonymous said...

My heart and prayers are with you

Penny said...

I am so sorry about Rocco..we have a dog too, Beau..I dont know what I will do when he time comes..you are right that they are not just "dogs", they are a member of your family. You love them like one of your children. I am so sad for you...I will pray for comfort all day today. :'-(