Sally succumbed to end-stage kidney disease on November 11, 2015. We were not certain of her actual date of birth, but we made a guess based on her apparent age when we got her as a puppy in February of 2003. Our guess was that she was born sometime that prior December. We picked her birthday as December 7th. The same date that FDR said would live in infamy. Sally was our endless source of entertainment, so it is fitting that she passed away on Veteran’s Day since her birthday was on Pearl Harbor Day.
Sally lost a lot of weight as she ate less and less due to the symptoms of the progressing kidney disease. She was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease about one year before she passed. Eating anything makes one with the disease feel a little ill as the disease worsens. Sally was given aluminum hydroxide to absorb the phosphorus in her food to help ease symptoms, but it could only do so much as time went on.
We fed her whatever she would eat during the last few months of her life. The way it would work would be that she would eat something and like the taste. Then she would feel a little ill and make an association in her mind that it was that particular food that made her sick. Therefore, she no longer would want it. She did not know that all food would do that with her disease.
We would switch things up every few days so she always had something different to try. One or two days of chicken followed by maybe cheeseburgers or even soup when the chicken was no longer palatable. She would go back and forth liking and not liking regular dog food even though we tried different flavors and brands. We went through all her favorites several times over those months.
She really liked Pizza Tuesday. A local pizza joint has a large cheese pizza for a low price on Tuesdays. It sort of became a routine to have pizza on Tuesdays. Sally could put away some pizza. Sally’s favorite food was tomatoes. She would eat them like candy. She liked pasta with red sauce a lot as well. During the latter stages of the kidney disease, she really liked baked ham and hot dogs. Yes, the salt was too much for a dog with kidney disease that was stable or still treatable, but Sally’s was not. The salt at that point did not really matter.
It was during the last month of her life that she was eating pureed food from a two ounce feeding syringe. We would squirt small amounts of pureed food into her mouth and she would swallow. She ate baby food the last few times she ate. The last few days she only ate a bit of ice cream if we put it in her mouth. She had regular subcutaneous fluid administration along with water and pediatric electrolytes given to her by a feeding syringe to keep her hydrated.
Early in the morning of her last day with us I was giving her a drink by the feeding syringe before changing her diaper. Sally was no longer able to get up for about two weeks before she passed. She choked a little on the water and began to wretch. She stopped breathing, and her heart stopped. It was early in the morning and I woke my wife abruptly, telling her what happened. I thought for a second to just let Sally go but decided to breathe for her and do a couple of chest compressions. The Lord let her heart start beating again, and she began to breathe on her own. We had her with us for another seven hours. She was awake, alert and interacting with us during that time.
One of us was always with her when she could no longer walk. During the last seven hours of her life here, one of us was right by her side the entire time. We were with her when she passed away just before two in the afternoon. I understand the process of dying, but it does not make it any easier. It might even make it a bit harder to see it happen to someone you love who has been part of your family for over a decade. Those last seven hours with Sally were very precious to have had.
We do not euthanize because we believe that life is such a precious gift that every moment that can be lived should be lived regardless of the circumstances. I have heard veterinarians advise us that an animal should be put to sleep if there is pain. If we use that analogy on me, then I should have been put down long ago. My wife and I are very familiar with physical pain. It is part of our daily lives, yet we want to live to have another day with each other and our loved ones. Understand that we do not tell others what to do with their pets when it comes to euthanasia. We work from home so it was much easier to be with Sally around the clock. We also are more than fully aware of the financial burden pet healthcare can present.
Sally was herself right up to the end. She was never overtly affectionate. Her affection was subtle. It could be wanting to sit on the couch with you—the other end of course—or moving from the foot of the bed up close to where your head was at. She would wag her tail and do her doggy smile when we came home. We would get about 30 seconds of attention from her, and then she would go and lay on her couch happy that we were home. No doggy kisses or happy dances though.
Sally was our little girl. She was so lost after her sister Amy passed away. For years it was her, Lucy and Amy. Then Lucy passed. She was okay because she had Amy with her at all times. When Amy passed we had our own grieving, but we could see the grief that Sally experienced. She was terrified to be left alone. She paced non-stop when we had to leave the house without her. We could see her walking back and forth on camera. Sometimes she would rest right at the front door, but she was up and pacing when she heard a noise. She would settle and be happy within a couple of minutes of us being home.
Sally did not like it when Tina left the house for any reason. She was only happy when we were all together in the same spot. It could be in the house, on the porch or in the car. She would do a happy dance when we got out the leash and her harness. We just had to be together. That is all Sally wanted. I do not know if she was afraid of losing one of us like she did Lucy and Amy, but it sure seemed that way. She seemed to age so much faster after Amy was gone.
There are all kinds of funny and touching things I could say about Sally. Things she has done over the years such as eating a jar of peanut butter that I had inadvertently left within her reach one day when we left the house. Sally was probably the smartest dog next to Frito that we have ever had. She was timid around strangers, but she was just our little girl to us.
We miss her more than words I have available can describe, but we are glad she is no longer suffering with kidney disease as well as two of three cancers that were still active in her body. She had stable lymphoma, had a toe amputated for a cancer in the nail bed, and then developed a tumor on another foot. We thought it would be cancer that would take her from us, but it turned out it would be her kidneys.
We thank everyone who has taken time to pray for Sally and us during this time she has been sick.