Friday, April 3, 2015
Thank you to all of you, so very many wonderful peeps and furries, who paid honor to Phantom by your touching comments and private emails and posts. I promise I will respond to all the emails as soon as I can. I will do a proper tribute to him next week when I have time to process what just happened. It is a very busy time here with the Easter holiday and I want to do things the right way for him. I do want to give special thanks to Ann of Zoolatry for the beautiful Forever Phantom badge in yesterday's post and for the collage below. Ann is ALWAYS there when her wonderful talents are needed. She also found time to modify the new header she made for us to include the special heart for Phantom. She is one very special friend - everyone should be so lucky to have that kind of caring friend.
I know many of you are wondering what happened to bring things to such a sudden end. Phantom has been struggling for a long time. He was my miracle dog because he never should have survived the massive surgery he had on his chest back in 2009. That was the start of his cancer woes. But he was a trouper and kept on going.
Yesterday's earlier post was a bit of an intentional precursor to what was to come. Both Phantom and I did a lot of "just thinking" all day. Some decisions are just so tough.
Over the past few weeks, I noticed a marked decline in his level of activity and overall mobility. But those eyes were still sparkling, he was still eating "Phantom-style", his tail, well, it wagged the best it could, and he still wanted to go for his very short walk - we knew we were walking a fine line as to knowing what was best for Phantom. On Wednesday his back end was caving quite a bit if he stood still for any more than a few minutes. He had been suffering from proprioceptive deficiency for a while now. The vet explained to me that this was why he dragged his back legs. He really wasn't always sure where his feet were and if he was placing them correctly. The vet checked him over thoroughly when he made his twice a week tail bandage change. Nothing new or notable was obvious on Wednesday morning when Dr. B. checked him over. Wednesday night a lot changed. Once he was lying down, he could not get his back legs up without help. His right leg seemed to be very stiff and basically useless. Our wonderful vet Dr. B. was not in on Thursday or Friday of this week, but another one that I have a lot of confidence in was going to see him Thursday morning. Well, Phantom was always the one to do things his own way - Thursday morning he was able to get himself up and moving. But by noon I noticed that his right leg had some swelling near the lower part. I talked to the vet again and we agreed to give him the day and have him checked out on Friday. I was pretty sure the time had come, but I had the grandkids all day Thursday and I really didn't want to have them see me leave with Phantom and then return in the condition I knew I would be in. They all knew that Phantom's days were numbered, but I wanted to protect them. Thursday night Phantom went to his crate after dinner. He had been limping more and the swelling had progressed. About 15 minutes later I could hear him struggling to get up. We use the Varikennel style crates so I could not get at him easily to help raise him. While my husband and I rushed to unscrew and remove the top of the crate, he began to cry. Phantom was so stoic, he never complained or cried, so hearing his moans told me he was in deep pain. I called the vet - who fortunately was open until 8:00 and rushed him over.
I can't say enough about my vet clinic staff. Four staff members were on the sidewalk as I pulled in so they could help me. Everyone wanted to be a part of his care. They carried him inside and examined him. Without doing any x-rays, she was pretty confident that his leg had multiple breaks in the bones. How? We will never know for sure. He did not fall. He did not have any sort of accident. The vet's guess is that he may have put pressure on the leg with his paw turned under, not realizing what he was doing with his leg,. At 16 and four months, his bones were probably pretty brittle. The other option is that he had bone cancer in his leg. That wouldn't be a surprise given the many tumors he had. In the end, the what and why and how don't matter. I vowed a long time ago that Phantom would not suffer if I could help it. The only thing to do was to give him his freedom. I knew it was coming for a long time, but that doesn't make it any easier, as most of you know from your own experience. The vet made the whole process very easy, and Phantom, true to his quiet and brave and gentle nature, just went to sleep quietly, calmly, and peacefully. In many ways I do feel relief, but the heart aches tremendously. It has been broken too many times with the passing of my beloved Dakota, Thunder, and now Phantom. Time heals a broken heart, but how I wish it didn't have to break.
I don't know how you all feel about what happens when your beloved pet is gone. But I do believe Phantom sent me that "sign" this morning that all is well. I was out doing my shopping for Easter dinner and had one item, Sunny D strawberry orange drink, that the grandkids all love. The store I had gone to did not have any. I was really pressed for time, but I decided to make one more try at another store. I almost burst into tears as I walked into the store and heard the song they were playing over the speakers: "Wind Beneath My Wings". For some reason I have always associated that song with Phantom - he truly was my hero in so many ways. I believe he may have had something to do with my stopping at this store today.
Please give all your furries a hug and tell them how much they are loved.