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Crossing the Rainbow Bridge with a Piece of My Heart

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Disclaimer: This post will likely make you cry.

Yesterday after nearly 10 years our sweet girl crossed the rainbow bridge.  Mia turned 9 in November and was the most expensive, best, sweetest, unexpected blessing in our lives, next to those kids of ours.  Every day brought something awesome and every moment after feels quite empty right now.  I am pretty broken, but I wanted to share with everyone what lead up to yesterday.

This picture was taken 10 days ago

As most of you know, last April our Mia came running in after a rainy day and hit our tile full speed and fell, sliding across our floor about 5 or so feet.  She seemed ok, got up and was ok for a few days…then a limp developed.  We took her to the vet who checked her out and said that it appeared that her shoulder was inflamed a bit (which made sense because that is what she fell on) and that we needed to kennel her and give her an anti-inflammatory.  We did, the limp sort of improved.  It would go away for a few weeks and then come back and we would repeat the process.

In September, we noticed a lump on the joint of her front left paw (same leg with the limp) and had an x-ray done.  The x-ray showed our worst fear.  Osteosarcoma.  This is an aggressive bone cancer with a low survival rate, most dogs living only a few months after diagnosis.  We chose hospice and decided to make her comfortable.

In December, our dog was still very active, even as the tumor continue to grow and grow.  She was still playful for the most part and going up and down stairs and even getting on and off our furniture and bed.  She was also running out of medication that we were given for hospice so I called the vet in January about a week in to get a refill.  They were surprised she was still alive. 

The tumor at this point was huge and she was no longer using that leg at all.  They had us bring her in, did an exam and bandaged up a little weeping from the tumor.  Then the vet offered more x-rays to see if the cancer had spread to her lungs and by some miracle, it had not.  In a cancer that is characterized as fast moving and has a high metastasis rate, she beat the odds.  We scheduled an amputation with high hopes that we were that one in a million case.

The amputation went amazing, she immediately felt better, was active and mobile.  We had our dog back and were SOOO hopeful.  These past 3 months, she has been back to her normal activities and in general doing very well.  She had struggled to navigate our tile floors, so we modified by adding carpet runners.  She also refused to stay off the stairs, the furniture and the fence to fight with the neighbor dog.  We did our best to keep her contained and make sure that she was doing well in recovery, but even our best was not good enough.  On Saturday, my husband got up with the dogs to feed them, let them outside and then come back to bed.  She went downstairs, ate, went outside and came back in.  She laid down and never got back up.

Saturday was my sons birthday party and I had noticed that she was not able to really get up.  I called a doggy chiropractor and talked to him.  He suggested that I get an x-ray of her back first and then we could start a treatment.  I figured that she probably just threw her back out as she still was wagging her tail and able to move her back legs…she just could not get up.

By Sunday morning, she was not able to wag her tail, the feeling in her legs was minimal and she was getting frustrated.  We were having to carry this nearly 80lb dog inside and outside to go potty and she was not happy about it.  She kept trying to get up and couldn’t manage it.  Monday morning I called the vet, they made us an appointment.  At this point I had came to the realization that either they would do spinal surgery or she would cross the rainbow bridge.  I was still hopeful.  I spent Sunday night sleeping next to her, praying, crying and just hoping for yet another miracle.  This couldn’t be it.

When we got to the vet with her, she started to lose control of her bowels.  The exam showed that she was not responding to pain or pressure in her back legs and she was indeed paralyzed.  I tried to figure out every single angle to fix her.  We could still try a spinal surgery, we could get a wheelchair, we could build something to help us get her inside and outside at home easier until the feeling came back.  The vets had to talk me off the ledge.  This was the end.  It was our choice to continue hospice at home, but she was likely going to become even more agitated and the pain could start to move up even higher…worse, the paralysis could do the same and lead to a longer struggle in her passing.  My husband signed the papers…I laid on the floor face to face with my girl, crying and kissing her.  I told her that I was sorry.  Sorry that I couldn’t save her, sorry that she was suffering (although she was not in pain), sorry that this was the end, sorry that we had to do this, just sorry.  I told her I loved her and I stared into her eyes and told her it would be ok and that I wasn’t going to leave.  I didn’t.  I stayed and cried and held her.  It was fast, I broke down.  The minute she was gone, I wanted her back.

We took her body out to my parents farm, we buried her, and cried and fell apart.  Friday, everything was ok.  Our dog was fine, we had beat the dang cancer, we had plans and were gearing up for an amazing summer, navigating the world with our tripod dog.  This dog lived through 3 major surgeries and every single aspect of my home reminds me of her.

I didn’t want to wash the blanket she had on her, but she had an accident so, I had to.  I did not want to wash the clothes I was wearing yesterday, but they too needed it.  Her hair is still all over my house (she was a huge shedder) and I don’t want to vacuum.  Getting out of the shower took my breath away.  I washed away those last sweet kisses from her and she was not waiting on the bathmat like she had done for 10 years.  When we put our kids to bed, she was not laying between their rooms, protecting them.  I missed that hobbling sound this morning as I got up to feed our other dog.  We no longer need two cups and bowls and water dishes.  The carpet runners are not needed anymore.  Her kennel can be stored.  Today sucks.

My Mia girl was a great dog, losing her was like losing one of my children.  My heart literally hurts, I can’t stop crying and I am nauseous from all these feelings.  However, I am thankful. Thankful that we were blessed to be her parents.  That we were able to get her through this life with her knowing that we loved her so much and would do anything for her.  Thankful that she touched so many peoples lives and that she is able to run (likely on 4 legs, but we all know that she was a champion 3 legged runner too).  Thankful that I have had such an outpouring of support and love from everyone. Reading the amazing empathetic sentiments from everyone has helped.  I am incredibly thankful to every single person who reached out, commented, liked a status and sent their love.  There is no way to respond to everyone, but please know that we are so appreciative and thankful for you as well.

Mia crossed that rainbow bridge, but she will always be alive in my heart…that hopefully feels better eventually.


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