Friday, January 7, 2011

Sweet Bella

This is my sweet little Bella.   I took this today thinking it could be one of her last pictures. She is eleven, and until very recently still looked and acted like a puppy.  She has lost five pounds very suddenly because she stopped eating.  We did indeed find out she's in the final stages of kidney failure.

To say the last few days have been emotionally draining would be an understatement.

I'm praying for a miracle, but also preparing for what may have to be done.

The poor sweet angel is just not herself.  We can tell she's in a lot of pain right now.  But they've given me IV fluids to inject in her skin every day with nausea medication to hopefully flush out the toxins (something her kidneys are not doing properly) and to help her gain back her appetite.  

But if she can't keep food down the vet told me today it's essentially like a slow death of starvation.  That's something I cannot and will not do.

I had to have the hard talk with my kids about her possibly needing to go to heaven.  They're all sad and feel badly for her, but my middle daughter Ava I can tell is taking it the hardest.

I watched her in my rear view mirror staring out the window.  Tears welling in her eyes and her bottom lip tucked in trying so hard not to let the cry over take her.  She was suffering in silence and I knew so much how she was feeling.  I do the same thing.  I try to be strong and brave, but inside I'm crumbling.  
I knew then that even though going through this will be hard for me, it is going to be that much harder watching my child suffer so through the loss.  

My kids have always known Bella would die someday and would talk about what kind of animal they wanted when she died.  It always kind of bugged me.  They didn't seem as connected to her as I am.  But you see she didn't like them for a very long time.  They demoted her and they were fast and clumsy and loud and often times she just sort of put up with them in annoyance.  She loved other children, but ours removed her from her throne and she tolerated them, but wasn't fond of them.

That was until a couple of years ago.  Slowly but surely, sweet, calm, gentle little Ava (whom I call the dog whisperer) broke Bella down.  She taught her that the little people in our house could love her and play with her and be her pals.  And little by little she has warmed up to them.  She now scoots her little behind onto their laps in her way of letting them know she wants them to pet her.  She especially loves Ava because Ava lets her give lots of doggie kisses just like daddy does.  

But today in the car when my youngest asked if we'd get another dog, Ava said, 'I don't want another dog, I just want Bella.'  Again, I know exactly how she feels.  I can't even think about another pet and don't want to.

Now, the bond between my husband and Bella is a whole other story.  One I will need to dig up photos to properly tell.  She has been his girl from the get go.  But I am her 'mom' and no matter how late I stay up getting things done, she stays by my side and waits for me to go to bed.  She is my sweetheart.

I'm considering making a scrapbook about her.. something I always wanted to do, but never took the time.  I'm thinking it might be therapeutic not only for me, but also the kids.  She really has been a special dog for us.  
October 1999
 Our first Halloween after just getting her we both dressed up as angels.  Don't judge.  Seriously, it was our first time owning our own home having trick-or-treaters come to the door.  We like to dress up and I just had to include Bella.  She was only two months old.  Oh and the make-up, again don't judge. :)  It was still the 90's and I was working on camera so I had to wear a lot back then.
October 1999
First seeing me and meeting Jackson after coming home from the hospital.
March 2002

 Trying to take our first family photograph for our Christmas card.  I think it took two different trips and on one trip alone, a total of 85 pictures to find one that worked.  
I could share so many stories from the way she found her way into our lives, to the way she bonded with Neal the moment they met, to the many tricks she learned to perform on cue, and the way (before we had kids) we'd rent a movie instead of going out after work in order to not leave her alone any longer.  To the way we'd only book hotels that allowed dogs and would keep her in a carry on doggie bag on the airplane in order to travel with her.  She was truly our first baby.

As a teeny puppy, she'd try to protect me, all 10 pounds of her as though she were a German Shepherd if she thought anyone was trying to hurt me.  The time I threw my body down to yank a Rottweiler off of her, without even a single hesitation.  To the time my husband heard her yelping while he was working in the garage, only to discover a coyote grabbed her right in our driveway at dusk.  He yelled, she was dropped and ducked under my car to safety.  Despite two puncture wounds, she survived.  Seven years ago, we got the same diagnosis of kidney failure and four months to live, for it to miraculously disappear.  She is our miracle dog that I've said has nine lives.  God truly brought her into our lives and has let her live longer than all of those times we thought we might lose her.

These days I'm thinking about how much the little things will be missed.  Like the jingle of her collar as she runs through the house, the way she always has to snuggle up against me in bed.  The way she never failed to try to take over the spot where I slept every time I'd get up to feed a hungry baby.  The way she has been such a good helper cleaning the kitchen floor with children that often have spills.

The way she loved to help anyone open up their presents, ripping off the paper.  The way she was always so happy and her whole body shook from that teeny tail that was so excited to see anyone come through our front door.  And I mean anyone.  From family and friends to the mailman and babysitters, she thought they were all here to visit her.  And she'd lavish them with love and make everyone feel so special. 
(This about sums up her personality.  This is her as a puppy, jumping like a nut.  I call her Bella Bunny because she always bounded around more like a bunny with such spunk. )

I know I'm writing as though she's gone.  She's not, but some of that spirit is.  I see glimpses of it still though and that is why we're waiting and seeing if the treatments help her improve even more.
While we were driving home from school today we all prayed.  The way I left her earlier, she wouldn't move off the couch and I didn't feel like we had much time.  My son prayed that the Lord would give her three more years.  

When we walked in the door she jumped off the couch and ran to us with her tail wagging, just like she used to.  She ran to her ball for someone to throw it and proceeded to play catch.  It's a glimmer of hope.  And a feeling that even if it isn't meant to be for three years, today God did answer our prayers.

Anyone who is an animal person knows how hard this is.  They're such a part of the family.  Tonight I'm praying for strength and peace. 

1 comment:

Gina said...

*hugs and prayers* SO sorry for your loss!

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