So many of us want to focus and hold dear to our hearts the wonderful and greatly rewarding success and happiness of what r/q Rescue brings our way. Yet, sadly, tragically and unfortunately, this is not always what happens in r/q Rescue. R/q Rescue is full of dark and deep pain plus anguish and the level of heart wrenching devastation that hits us, more often than we would wish, is crushing………..
Today, I am finally ready to discuss and share my failure….and to all that know me, I will be haunted to the end of my days over the ones that I could not save in the end…… 🙁 🙁 This sweetie is even more hard to take the loss of having to let her go as I finally positively thought and felt with all my soul including her Vet Team of many, that we were going to be able to make her journey through a successful rehab to her forever loving adoptive home, happen. I wanted this so badly for her, I wanted this so much for her…..and, I feel like I failed her. Does not matter what the specialists has told me towards the end with the latest in findings, I will forever fell like I let her down in some way or manner. 🙁
This dog adored me and I had sincerely hoped and wanted with all that love, to in turn, give her the world…..For, I adored her no less. I would fundraiser and scrimp and save all I had to, to do what she needed as long as she had the will and desire to fight and go on. QUALITY OF LIFE ALWAYS!
On Tuesday October 9th, I received the following request for assistance for a GD, female, Harlequin, about 15 months of age. With the heartwrenching loss of dear BHRR's Concert, we have the spot to help another animal in need of BHRR. We mobilized fast and she was expected to arrive to BHRR on Sunday October 14th, 2012.
We called her ‘BHRR’s Autumn’. AND, here is her blog…..
http://www.birchhaven.org/archives/category/adoption/autumn I have tried to keep it updated(still think I needed those one round of u/s photos to post)….there are photos, and stories and video and I do not know when, if ever, I will be ready to visit her blog again with such anquish in my soul…..one month later and the pain is as raw as ever. 🙁
Per a post that I did make the day of her arrival, she was in a very bad neglected state…I called her my ‘hot mess’ with SA – two blown cruciates, food allergies, suspected possible seasonal allergies, ear and eye infections, growths/lumps, emaciated(2/10), overgrown nails, over-bred, FAD, UTI, in a false pregnancy and the medical list goes on. We battled continuous weight issues and she visited specialists and had a dedicated Vet team that in numbers would rival any baseball or football team! AND, her fan club….no one could have wanted more in quality and heart and dedication!
With the BHRR army of our village surrounding her, she began her rehab medically and emotionally……
AND, as I keep saying…. that one reason why she had survived for as long as she did…that backbone of steel that these dogs that are emaciated, neglected and terribly emotionally and physically not done right by those that should have treated them with respect and love, is what makes these dogs such survivors!
We conquered together, her SA, all infections with eyes, UTI and ears etc., her food allergies, her possible hormone issue via spaying, her nails, all growths/lumps addressed and were working on her seasonal allergies AND FINALLY FINALLY, we were getting a slow yet steady upward weight gain…..finally……the cheers rocketed from the rooftop!! YES! This girls future, finally was more than promising, it was THERE! IT was going to happen. Just more time…and, I was patient and committed to her forever. I was already thinking about the things we could do to fundraiser (we were already almost $8,500 in bills and rising and another $8,000 expected to come her way with two more surgical procedures with those cruciates) and I had a couple of folks on her Autumn’s Adventure Team to help raise more funds with our creativity!
We spared no effort or test or procedure to help her become healthy and the best dog that she could be AND the healthier she got, the more that already bigger than life personality came out!!! She was feeling so much better and was so much happier! She was beautifully stubborn and obstinate and I LOVED it! I could not get enough of those flews and jowels and the way she looked at me, just made my insides turn to mush every time……NOT much I would have ever denied her yet, Gwennie’s Doggie Boot Camp remained in full swing FOR she well knew her charm and body weight – even emaciated!
When we discovered that she had a positional hm, she had a cardiac u/s to rule out any DCM etc. She had x-rays and u/s of almost her whole body other than her brain was the running joke! We ruled out cancer and Cushing’s and Addison’s and everything in-between to be sure that she was receiving everything she needed. We jumped up and down and up and down when we were told that she was a candidate for her cruciates! We were seeing a horizon stretching forever for her….bright and full of sunshine…..one step at a time….
Sadly, On June 14th, very shortly after being placed in her approved temp foster home(to see if we could get the weight coming on more steadily), she had a bad fall on some wet grass. I told the foster home that this could have happened to her anywhere and do not blame themselves. I rushed her in and x-rays were performed. It appears that not only were her cruciates affected prior to arriving to BHRR(one of them so bad, it was chronic and not sure if it could even be helped in the end – yet, we would cross that bridge when necessary), her PCL was now blown. This was devastating news for both her back legs were already bad and she had put so much strain on her front end already in trying to compensate. I was told with her not so best stability due to her two blown cruciates, the chances of additional injuries was not uncommon
Per my June 14th blog: “This is a huge step back as due to the pain, her weight gain is going to stall yet, I am at least happy to know what is happening….
She will be a million dollar dog when all is said and done and her worth is priceless!!!
BHRR's Autumn came to us with two blown ACL's. She now has a blown PCL. We have done many TPLO's and Extracapsular surgeries and have had wonderful success. BHRR's Autumn's situation is not the norm with this positional HM, her continued unanswered medical question of the lack of weight gain plus that she does not recover from sedation and anaesthetics well.”
On June 16th: UPDATE: BHRR's Autumn is not doing well. Crate Rest and lots of meds are not greatly assisting her at this time. She is understandably weight bearing all on her other leg and with that having also a torn ACL prior to coming to BHRR, it is just not able to keep trying to compensate for both back legs now. She is not eating well nor drinking normally. I am worried. I am very concerned. I have conversed with one of her Vets and so, a new pain management schedule is in place and I said I would give her another 24 hours yet, would be bringing her in as I am worried…..The swelling plus edema is so bad. Icing and massaging as per the treatment plan too. Please, may I ask that all her fans and friends send her positive thoughts and energy. I adore this dog as much a life itself and I committed from day 1 to her wellbeing and she has come so far in her journey to date and she has a long way still to travel and my wish is for her to be able to travel that journey to a success chain of success chapter one day…..
On June 19th: UPDATE: My last post before I go to bed for a couple of hours is an update on BHRR's Autumn. As shared with a couple over the last 24 hours, I talked to two of her Vet team plus one of her specialists on Tuesday and I needed to converse about quality of life. To have even uttered those words on a GD that came to me such a 'hot mess', broken and emaciated with many medical conditions, to have come through over 8 months of a miraculous journey with her, telling her daily that she is DESERVING and that she is WORTHY, to adore this dog the way I do…..uttering those words through the huge lump in my throat and the sickness in my stomach was just the worst feeling ever…..I have promised to each and every dog that crossed my door and heart that they will lack for nothing, that I will always do 'right' by them and it is about quality of life…..BHRR's Autumn's blog is very detailed with all her updates, photos, videos and the friends and fans she has captured with her paws and heart since we were first contacted to assist her….Her journey from the States to us was just the beginning….and to be at this point over a bad fall she took slipping on wet grass, is crushing…..something that could happen to any dog, yet, to have happened to her, with her already broken body….was more than devastating. She has not used her leg in a week, she had been sedated to try and keep her more quiet to get the swelling and edema to go down and to give her time to try and get some healing in, she was off her food, limiting her water intake and that 'almost violent in her affection' Autumn was fading like a beautiful sunset…..I said that I would bring her back in on Thursday to re-evaluate and on my way home, I called Sean and I told him I need to ask Autumn what she wants….We had changed her pain management protocol as she was just too doped up and we were having to put two slings on her to help her go outside and she was just not 'her'……I could see how glazed her eyes was, the pain, the weight loss…..and, I needed to try and keep being objective….very hard, when you are so subjectively attached to her…..People say that a dog will let you know when they are ready…I have had that experience….yet, I have had equally as many experiences that *I* needed to speak on behalf of the animal and do the humane thing…the right thing, the hardest thing ever…..When I came home, I crawled into her colossal crate and I looked at her….I just sat and asked her what did she want…that, I did not want to be selfish and it was hurting me to see her hurt…..not to see her bigger than life personality just lighting up our home….her happiness, her joy, her everything….As crazy, as it sounds…4:30 AM and being up almost 21 hours, can make the brain a wee bit fuzzy, yet, her eyes were clearer than they had been in almost a week…..the heavy dose of meds were finally leaving her system, she actually sat up…..and, then she laid a paw on me and put her head on my shoulder and sighed…..and nuzzled me….When she moved away, I knew what she wanted…..and, I am going to give it to her….she wants more time….She ate the most that she has done in days….she was almost at her normal water intake and when she peed, she was actually putting her 'bad' foot down to give herself more balance and I only needed one sling to assist her in and out of the house….I am keeping it 'real'….I know that she is nowhere close to being out of any 'woods'….yet, I am taking it day by day and continuing to try and do things right for her…..quality of life….quality of life….AND, you know what is the best sound in the world….hearing her snore for the first time in almost a week! She is actually having a good rest…..
Day by Day…….
On June 20th, she had a re-evaluation and we repeated x-rays and I had a very long talk with one of her specialists. Her x-rays and case would be sent off by review by yet, another specialist and team of experts for additional consultation. In my heart, I was terrified…..in my stomach, I was quite nauseous and I was trying so hard to ‘listen’ to her…..I could see myself what was in these x-rays….we did back and front legs this time. The swelling in her front legs was alternating and I knew it was not just from the seasonal allergies and not being on the Vanectyl P.
On June 22nd, she was loved on by so many at our BHRR ‘EXPERIENCE’ Mini Open House and she was somewhat feeling still sedated from her meds and several of us had a very open and honest discussion. AND, every time, I was around her, that head would tilt in my direction, those eyes would reach out to me and she was determined to be near me. She was eating, and drinking and yet, she was not quite my ‘Autumn’.
I was determined that quality of life always first and foremost and I began to give her as many more visits and memorable experiences as I could for her.
On June 24th, a 2+ hour consultation was had and the news was crushing….the x-rays were confirmed that this was one tough and amazing dog. I already knew she was a miracle and it was said that when her cruciates blew back when she was in Ohio, that she had managed in only using her front legs until they ‘healed’ as they could on their own and she could work through the pain and being so poorly bred, plus having been bred quite a few times herself, plus being a giant breed dog(and still growing), plus having been given such poor nutrition, improper exercise AND neglected, her front legs were full of healed small fractures from all that weight bearing she had done back then. AND, now that both her back legs were going under this new stress of an added PCL, she was back to using her front end as much as possible and you could begin to see all these tiny little lines of new fratures appearing.
Per the specialists, they told me and tried to assure me(like that was even possible… 🙁 ) that we would have walked down this road ‘if’ we had tried to do her cruciate repair and she had not blown her PCL. They said it was like a ‘blessing’ and I found it to be anything but. Yes, medically I ‘got it’, emotionally, I did not and wanted to scoop her up and run away…far away…. 🙁 They said, that with the shifting in weight that she would have had to do through her healing process of the cruciate repair, she would have likely blown her PCL anyway by taking some fall then and/or, yet mostly likely both, had fractures appear in her front legs as she compensated.
I just felt my knees crumple as I gathered her into my arms and wept into her neck and she licked my face and kissed my tears…..to the very end, she tried to comfort me and be there for me….I kept telling her over and over and over and over again, that I am sorry…so sorry, that I would not see her suffer and that I have failed her…..that she gave me the best of everything over the last 8.5 months and I am sorry that I could not give her everything back in turn…..
I spent the next few days, loving on her, and giving her all that I could yet, the one thing I could not give her, haunted me….a forever loving home of her own….. 🙁 🙁
On June 26th, as we watched the sun set on top of one of the hills on our property(one of her fav spots), she rested her head in my lap and looked at me…..I knew….I knew what she was asking and wanting….I knew it was coming and I knew I was going to have to make the decision myself soon and I bawled again…..I hugged her close….told her how much I adored her and always would and once again, told her how sorry, I was….
On Friday June 28th, just 24 hours after letting our beloved Guinness go, Sean & I held this magnificent being of BHRR’s Autumn in our arms and kissed and stroked her soft fur and said, that it is ok…to go and be free and know a world without pain. I asked for her forgiveness and told her that with each of my tears, that it was a measure of my bottomless cup of love for her and that she taught so many so much and was completely inspirational and that no one could ‘land swim’ like her nor drink water and sharing it so well with others at the same time! I smiled as I told her that I was so amazed that she could store so many kibbles in those cheeks of hers for later! Just as the light faded completely from her eyes and she crossed over, she put a paw over my arm and kissed the back of my hand……
While I feel that she may forgive me for failing her, I will never……
One month later, I am still thinking about all the ‘what ifs’….the ‘what could I have done’…..the ‘was there something else for her’……
I know this is a HUGE Gwennie novel yet, I almost feel that if I stop writing, BHRR’s Autumn’s journey ends and that crushes my heart…she was suppose to live…she was suppose to have a forever loving home of her own…..she was suppose to have a great future for she sure as heck was not given a good past and I can only hope that in the ‘present’ of her time with me, she did live…..and, had fun and enjoyeda wonderful quality life…..
RIP my incredible ONE of a KIND priceless ‘almost violent with her loving affection’, full of heart, nothing half measure done dream girl!
My heart just bleeds and bleeds….