This past week I faced one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to deal with. My soul dog, Mr. Blue, has battled lymphoma for the past nine months and, for the third time, he is out of remission. The doctor said he wasn’t strong enough to begin his fourth drug protocol and sent him home for three days with steroids to get his strength up. It didn’t help. His platelets were too low and he was still in an anemic state. In a private room, the doctor told me that Mr. Blue was too weak and tired to continue treatment and was likely to go downhill fast. He advised me to spend the next few days with him and prepare to make every dog owner’s worst decision. Sobbing, I looked at my sweet boy and agreed. Mr. Blue was tired the disease was obviously taking its toll.
Somehow I made the 90-mile drive back home. I called work and asked them to notify Peaceful Pet Passage for an at-home euthanasia on Wednesday at 3 pm knowing full well that I couldn’t make the arrangements myself without losing it. I cleared my schedule for the next two days. That night was filled with the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. One moment I would relish the life Blue and I had lived together and the next I would fall into overwhelming despair trying to fathom how I would go on without him. Mr. Blue has been my constant companion for thirteen years, ever since the day I picked him up as an abandoned five-week-old pup. I tried not to cry as I was sure that Mr. Blue could sense my grief.
That night I posted the news on Facebook to the thousands of people and animals touched by Mr. Blue over the years. Many have followed his journey from the start and were pulling for him, just as distraught as I was. The following day began a long and beautifully touching succession of visits, texts, calls, and messages as people offered their support and prayers.
That same day Mr. Blue also began a miraculous turnaround. He ate breakfast. He ate a second breakfast. He ran around the house as people came to see him. He ate lunch. He played with his toys. He was alert and he probably gave me close to a thousand strong kisses. Earlier I had asked God to just keep him comfortable and happy on that final day so I could always cherish the memory. I really thought this was his final rally before we said goodbye.
That night, Mr. Blue came even more alive. At dinner time he ate another plate of food, and then another. He even had treats before he went to bed. I was perplexed. I have never lost a dog before but I have always been told that I will know when it’s time to say goodbye. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling that this was not his time.
Mr. Blue was out of remission and the clock was ticking, but was this his time? I went to bed and prayed for discernment, for some kind of sign. I also made one last decision. I wrote his obituary earlier that day, trying to keep myself sane and occupied as the hours ticked by. I reopened the document and deleted the date: May 21st
When I awakened the next morning morning Mr. Blue was already downstairs in the kitchen with the other dogs waiting for his breakfast. This wasn’t just a last-minute rally; Mr. Blue was back! I couldn’t go through with the euthanasia when he was in such high spirits.
I called the oncologist to see if there was any way they could immediately reevaluate Mr. Blue’s condition. I felt certain that if Blue had been this way 48 hours earlier, he would have been able to get his chemo. I just had
to know what Blue was telling me. The clinic squeezed him in although they said his condition was grave and they were not optimistic.
Peaceful Pet Passage was fine with the cancelation (they said this happens all the time and were very supportive) and we made the long trek back to the clinic. Mr. Blue was a different dog when he walked through that door. He had his spunk back. His blood work and white blood cell count were good, but his platelets were still low. There were two options: go with the chemo which, in his current state, could kill him; or decline the chemo and make him as comfortable as possible until the end. I went with option one. We were not going to lose the battle to cancer unless we had exhausted every opportunity.
Mr. Blue received his chemo and we began the journey home. I immediately let his legion of adoring fans know the good news and they rejoiced! I felt a tremendous peace knowing that, with this chemo, we had truly done everything we could and the rest is in God’s hands. And while we are definitely not out of the woods, today was another great day for him at work as people came by to see the miracle mutt. He even had a big dinner with an Angus burger for desert. Next Wednesday we’ll know if Mr. Blue is back in remission. Until then, we keep our paws crossed and we stay prayed up.
This roller coaster of a week reinforced three critical life lessons for me:
1) Trust your heart and trust your gut. If the timing of something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Wait. Take time for quiet reflection and pray for discernment.
2) It ain’t over til it’s over. As Helen Keller said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” You’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye or to let something or someone go. Until then, keep overcoming. Keep fighting.
3) The power of prayer and pawsitivity
. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and of God’s continuous unfolding of His tremendous plan for me. To see that He included my best four-legged companion in these plans takes our relationship to a whole new level! And why not? He knows even when the sparrow falls.
So remember, if you’re going through some ruff
stuff, keep the faith! In the end it’ll be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but this divine canine has taught me to live in the moment and I am furever
grateful for each and every moment that we share.