Friday, May 8, 2009

Our Beloved Rusty

Our sweet dog Rusty passed away last night at the age of about 10. It was the saddest thing and actually I kind of forgot that he was that old. Both of our dogs have been relatively healthy with little to no health problems. Rusty was the dog that has never been to the vet for any sort of problem. It sort of surprised us that he passed away first.

The last few weeks we started noticing that he has lost weight. Not entirely a bad thing since he was a tad big. The last week or so we started noticing that he was getting much thinner so we figured the problem was Kaika. That she was eating most of the food. She loves to eat and he would eat until he was full even if there was food still in the bowl. So we started to seperate them during meal time. That seemed to help. This last week we started noticing that he was eating nearly the food he used to. Lately we started noticing that he was getting slower and would go into the kennel and sleep instead of socializing. Two nights ago now Jeff noticed that he didn't eat anything. Didn't touch the food at all. Yesterday afternoon when he let the dogs out at lunch, Rusty struggled a tad with his back legs.

Last night it was my turn to feed them dinner. I complained that I couldn't see so Jeff got me a flashlight. While I was pouring the food in the last bowl, Jeff was shining the flashlight wildly through the garage windows to the kennel. Kaika goes crazy with light. She loves it. Rusty never got into it. He caught the corner of my eye and I thought that he was going after the light (unusual), instead he collapsed on the ground. I immediately ran for Jeff. When he got there, Rusty was up but not doing well. I could tell that he was not well in his eyes. They were dark and completely lacking the golden color. We got him comfortable in the garage on a blanket and called the 2 Emergency Animal Hospitals in the valley. We decided that we would head to Meridian to one of them. We loaded Rusty in first then woke Gunnar up for the ride. It was about 10:45pm when this all happened. When Rusty saw Gunnar in his seat he started wagging his tail. They just loved each other so much. They were great for each other. The 20-30 minute ride consisted of the two sleeping. Jeff kept asking me if Rusty was still alive. If he wasn't, what was the point of continuing. I would see his little eyebrows move, or his head move slightly. Once we pulled up to the hospital, he immediately sat up. Kind of weird.

When we arrived, a man was carrying a small box out. I was pretty sure that it was his pet that he was taking home to bury. It was sad. Jeff went in with Rusty while I parked the car and brought Gunnar in. Jeff was finishing the paperwork when I noticed that Rusty was starting to breath quite hard. He was not doing well at all. His breathing continued to become more labored. He started to lay on his side and lift up his tail. Nothing happened, then he started to pee all over himself. It was so extremely sad. Five vet techs rushed to his side and put him on a gurney. They told us that his lips were pale and his tongue was turning blue. They took him back to put him on oxygen.

Let me interrupt here and write about an experience that I had with our Golden growing up. She was very sick and had cancer if I remember right. We took her to the vet and my mom and I were told that she would die soon. My mom decided that we would take her home for the weekend because Brent was on a scout camping trip for a couple of days. Then we would bring her back in that Monday to euthenize her. Her poor body was suffering and she was swollen quite badly. I really don't remember if she passed away before Brent got home but what happened was quite interesting. I decided to sleep on the couch so that I could here her in the laundry room. Something woke me up so I went in there. She was in bad shape. She had lost all bowel control, was foaming at the mouth and laying on her side moving her legs as if she was running. She was probably having a seizure. She was paniced. I walked up to her and starting petting and talking to her. Moments later she passed away. It was incredible. I could feel the spirit from her body completely dissappear. Without a doubt I knew that she had gone to heaven. That Heavenly Father has a place for them. That once that spirit leaves, all that is left is simply a body. It was amazing the difference I felt. I knew that what was in front of me was not Scrapps (yes that was the name that she came with). It was simply her body. I was still extremely sad but I knew that she was in heaven.

Back to Rusty. One of the techs quickly asked us what out intentions were. The other techs were going to the back prepared to hook him up to iv's and things. She wanted to know if we were planning on doing heroic acts or to ease him from his suffering. We knew in our hearts and actually days before that he would most likely pass away. That his time was near. We told her that we did not want heroic acts and she informed us that the vet would be out soon to talk to us. The vet told us that they had him on oxygen and that we could do an x-ray to find out more about his heart. She stated that it could potentially be cancer, where blood fills the sack around the heart. However it was really hard to say without the x-rays. Of course he is a loved member of our family but we also knew that he was older and suffering so we asked about costs. She said that it could be anywhere from $400-$500. That is a lot of money. I will be honest. We weren't sure whether we should take him home to die or euthenasia, so we asked about euthenasia to ease him from the suffering. She referred us to the front desk. Before the tech could give us the information, another one appeared to tell us that he had gone into cardiac arrest. He was gone and it was really sad, however he was not suffering anymore. It only took about 10 minutes for him to pass away.

It then came to his body. What do we do? We don't have the property to bury him here and he is a really big dog. The lady that asked us about heroic measures also told us that we could take him to the Humane Society in the morning and they would do it for free. It would have cost us well over $100 to have them do it. Now I understand why that man was walking out with a box. So the workers prepared his body for us to take him home through the night. Gunnar through this entire thing was very quiet and paying attention. He understands that Rusty was sick and was taken to the hospital. We tried to shield him from knowing that we put him in the trunk for the ride home but he completely understood that when he told me, "Mom, Luxy's in the trunk." By the time we got home, it was about 12:30am. This morning, Gunnar and I drove to the humane society. It was extremly sad and hard as I had 30 long minutes to think about it both ways.
The one thing that I do regret is not going back there while he was dying or even afterwards. I wished that I had calmly talked to him, to tell him that it was okay, that he could go. We now have another dog that has looked for her brother throught the day. She is slightly older than Rusty by a couple of months so we fear that this will cause her health to decline quickly. As I started this post, she was in the house looking everywhere for him. She would not relax. Right now she is pacing the yard in a big circle and won't stop. It just breaks my heart. I've said for years that we will be in big trouble when one of them passes away. These guys were close. They were all that each other knew. They knew each other since they were months old.

Jeff and I just started dating when he got Rusty. His other dog (that I had never seen) had recently been hit by a car. He wanted a new dog. Jeff found an ad for free rotti mix puppies on one of the college bulliten boards. We headed out destined to pick one out. I really wanted one that looked just like Kaika but it was already spoken for. It was between a little girl and Rusty. Jeff went for Rusty, the silly looking cross eyed puppy. He later told me that he did not want to be stuck with a puppy that I picked out just in case we did not stay together. Rusty learned to kill cats as a puppy from another dog at Jeff's parent's house. So to our surprise, he loved the cat that I got when we were first married. He was a reformed cat killer. He really was not a lover of walks or runs. By the end of a not that long walk, we would literally be pulling him back home. But when he was loose and on the run, we had a hard time catching him. When we were first married, he took a Costco blueberry muffin and hid it in the couch cushions. How did I know...I spotted the crumbs and blueberry stains on the couch. He was the one that chewed up the checkbook right before we had to pay rent and other bills. He was always the one that would hide/bury the bones/treats instead of eat them. He loved laying in the sun. He was never pushy or bossy. He would quite often put himself to bed in our room where they slept at night. He loved his quiet time. He was not a squirrel chaser. He listened quite well for the most part. He just had a sweet, quiet presence about him. He was Gunnar's absolute favorite. He turned out to be the best kids dog despite the fact that he thought that Gunnar was some sort of small animal at first. Not sure really what Gunnar was. He quickly grew out of that.

Rusty, you will greatly be missed!

3 clever remarks:

Rachel C. said...

I am so sorry! That's got to be tough.

mandbrid said...

So sorry to hear about Rusty...

Amber H. said...

Wow, so I'm sitting here bawling as I'm reading this post. I'm so sorry for you guys and I can feel what a loss this is for you. What a sweet and touching tribute to him though. I hope his sister will be ok. Poor girl.