Tonight, at 5:03, little RatMan peacefully passed, at home, on my bed. I am surprisingly at peace, and the stage was set today in a way that made his passing much easier.
For those of you who haven’t read the whole story over the past week, check on the posts on my Facebook at facebook.com/dspurgers to see what he’s been through (starting Monday, April 18, 2016).
Tuesday was a great day - JR perked up, seemed to be feeling better, and had a bit of energy. Wednesday and Thursday weren’t quite so good. He was clearly tired, a bit lethargic, and just not his normal peppy self. Today, I met with Dr. Roath at Hartman to discuss our next steps and where we were. When we met, I didn’t know what this meeting would be - but I know now it prepared me for the next hour.
The reality of it is, JR was fighting a very serious infection in his already deteriorated heart (mind you, we think he was between 15 and 17). After my talk with Dr. Roath today, we learned that the next few days were going to be rough. We started talking about the next steps - and if treatment wasn’t working, how we were going to proceed. She felt that we could discontinue treatment, but that JR would deteriorate and be in pain before passing. That meant I needed to mentally prepare myself for the decision of letting JR stuffer or letting him pass peacefully and with dignity. I had made that decision long ago, so I knew what I had to do.
We arrived home around 4:50. I set little buddy down on the couch in his bed while I got things in from the car and got situated. He wasn’t getting comfortable - kept turning around and nesting his bed. I figured he may be more comfortable in my bed - his favorite place on earth! We went back to my room and laid down on my bed. Within 5 minutes of this, I believe he had a heart attack. I laid him down on the bed and he calmed down - then passed peacefully, looking at me as I pet him.
Had it been an hour earlier, he would have been alone at the vet. Had I not had the talk with Dr. Roath, I would have not been at peace or mentally prepared to part with him.
Here’s the reality of this: animal rescue isn’t easy. In case you don’t know, JR was a rescue from a hoarding situation in October of 2012. I’ve linked to my original blog post (where I thought I was going to just be fostering him) here. Animal rescue isn’t easy, and senior rescue is even harder - you’re never sure how long you have, and what quality of life you’ll have. You’re signing up to finish what someone else started and dropped.
Let me be very clear though: rescuing JR is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. He had a great personality. He was so spunky! And so not the typical chihuahua. Typically one man dogs, JR bonded with me almost immediately after his rescue, but very quickly became very social. He needed someone like me - someone who could have a pet with them almost everywhere they went - and spent almost every moment of the last 3.5 years with me. While at the salon, he would often get up to go greet every customer who came in the door - and often end up in their laps, enjoying their attention.
Rescue is so important. While I thought I was rescuing JR in 2012, we were really rescuing each other. He helped me through a tough time in my life and then lived the best years so far of my life with me - as he lived the best of his.
I so appreciate everyone’s kind words, thoughts, and prayers. They mean the world and have sustained us over the past few days. People who “aren’t pet people” or haven’t had companion animals don’t understand the love of a pet. They think we’re crazy when we treat them like our children - but until you have bonded with a companion animal and experienced the full, unbridled, unconditional love a pet - you just can’t understand. I am so fortunate to have shared this love and bond with my RatMan.
The best way I can honor JR’s memory is by carrying forward rescue - so we will rescue again, open our hearts again, and welcome in another animal who needs to be loved just as much as we need to be loved.
I would love to be able to make a generous donation to two different rescue groups: Humane Society of Faulkner County , and Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. These two organizations focus on giving new life to animals who have been discarded or abounded. If JR made an impact on your or in your life, please consider contributing to this GoFundMe account, which will be split between the two rescue organizations.
Love to all of you, and sleep well, my sweet little buddy.