Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gizmo the sweet Pomeranian

Today, after 12 hours or so of sickness and struggle, Angel Green and Jer Strandberg's lovely 15 year old Pomeranian, Gizmo, died. She was in our care. (NEW: SEE MOVIE BELOW)

Angel and Jer are currently on a one month trip to Turkey and Italy. They were about 1/2 way through. Angel and Jer had trusted us with Gizmo, a prized and miraculous pet, for the entirety of their trip. Though we talked top limits of money to spend to save her and other logistics, none of us hoped it would come to this, of course.

Gizmo got along well with our cats, both of whom were rescued from rough situations by Jer and Angel, who live up to Angel's name, especially as animals are concerned. We tried our best. A few days ago we took her to their normal vet, as she had "cold" symptoms. He gave her nose spray and we dutifully added it to her multi-pill regimen. Yesterday, when he said we should bring her back if she wasn't doing better, she seemed great. Little to no snot.

Until after the vet closed, that is, as often is the case. Then, she began to wane a bit. Coughed up mucus until she puked - which her owners had warned us she would do, even on a normal day. She seemed tired, but nothing too excessive. We went to sleep - or tried to - figuring we'd take her in in the morning if we needed to.

And did we ever. Woke at 10am and she was laboring her breath, standing, unable to move her arthritic legs. We took her right in, and the doctor gave us the worst choice a petsitter can hear: "she's ill, almost dying, in pain, struggling. Do we intervene or let her go?" They had asked us not to put her to sleep until we got ahold of them. The Xrays were horrible - large amounts of fluid or tissue covering her lungs, so the doc couldn't even see what was in them. A tumor, her guess, or a massive infection. Then later, tests showed kidney failure.

So we called every0ne. Called hotels, parents, cell phones, all of it. Their hostess at their hotel in Istanbul was great - got the message to them. Then the other calls: calling their regular vet, calling other parents, calling Travelocity to change their tickets so they could come home asap. Many many calls of "what should we do now?". Then, after I went up to rest and have some silence, THE CALL, or second to last one "we've decided. We will put her to sleep. Will you go be with her?" And so we left, going to meet Angel's mom along the way, driving in from Milwaukee.

On the way there, not 5 minutes from the ER, the call. "She's gone."

By this merit, may all obtain omniscience.
May it defeat the enemy wrongdoing.
From the stormy waves of old age, sickness and death,
From the ocean of samsara, may this free all beings.

We sat with dead her for a bit, petted her stiff body. No more snuffling. Dylan had had some great imiations of Gizmo - for even when she was healthy she had a collapsed trachea and made odd noises all the time except when sleeping. We stood silently and watched all the times she didn't breathe, all the times she didn't bark or sniffle or sneeze. Until it was enough to know. The doctor told us Angel's mom has turned around and we could go home.

It's quiet in the house. The cats know something is up, their odd guest gone. The weather, unseasonably hot and humid today, has finally cooled off. We stare at each other, stunned.
What next? A fall of death.

From the stormy waves of old age, sickness and death,
From the ocean of samsara, may this free all beings.


  1. RIP sweet Gizmo...

    "We stood silently and watched all the times she didn't breathe, all the times she didn't bark or sniffle or sneeze. Until it was enough to know."

    I have said goodbye to a beloved dog - our first collie, Angel - and this is exactly what it was like. Watching her not do things.

    what a day my dear friend. it sounds like you found it harrying and wearing... i think you don't really like making phone calls? well i don't... i would have minded that a lot more than simply dealing with the dog... i know your friends will be grateful for the love you showed them and their dog in dealing with this... this is precisely why someone would choose you to look after an animal... all your kindness and compassion...

    hope you did things to care for yourself throughout, and that you are caring for yourself now...

    Just a reminder, this is probably going to trigger loss and death themes for you... in case you were too tired to notice that for yourself... continue to take very good care of yourself as these things work themselves out... you deserve it.

    *hugs* and more *hugs* from both of us...

  2. I'm a petsitter here in the UK and my heart goes out to you.

    You did everything you could and if I was going to leave my pets it would be with someone like you.

    Saying the last goodbye is the very hardest part of this profession.

    Thinking of you.

  3. Thank you, all. Dylan and I had just talked about that kind of observing after I posted this, birdfarm, so it must be common experience! And remarkable. I call it "absence as presence."

    Fiona - thank you for your kind words.

    And Michael - thank you for being there, especially on that last journey.