I'm turning to mycorgi right now as an outlet for my grief and for a place to find comfort in the words of others. While I have turned to my corgi.com for advice on my little Butters, my 2 and half year old pembroke, this time it's in regards to a sheltie. She was no less important in my life, and I couldn't think of a better place to turn to when seeking some comforting words. I apologize for the length of this message, but I just needed to pour out my story and my emotions right now.
Nearly 14 years ago our family got our first sheltie in Germany. Her name was Dina, and she was a tricolor, and you truly couldn't ask for a more well behaved dog. Dina was so loved by our family and lived a healthy life until a yearly dental cleaning exposed a raging cancer within her throat. Dina was given a mere 6 weeks to live, but she far exceeded her odds by living just over a year beyond that. In fact, you'd never know she was battling cancer till the day she died. She was fighter through and through. We lost her just under a year ago. Luckily, we still had little Stella, our second sable sheltie. We had added her about 6 years after we first got Dina. Dina and her were instant buddies. Even when I had to move back home, bringing along Butters, the three girls got along fabulously. A growl or a snarl was to never to be heard from any of the girls.
Well Stella has always been in great health, besides some dental issues. That was until about two weeks ago. I woke up, and as with any morning I was preparing for Stella and Butters to run and nip at my heels with excitement to go eat breakfast and run outside for potty time. Well this morning it was only Butters. I found Stella very lethargic and I had to encourage her to wake. I found it a little odd, and more concern grew when she didn't want eat breakfast. My sister and I decided to monitor it and see if it worsened throughout the day. Well by dinner she was back to herself and scarfed down her meal like normal. But by the next morning, it was the same routine as before except now she was very spacey. I found her standing and staring at the wall blankly, and when she decided to lay down she began shaking. We immediately rushed her to our local vet. Once we arrived we were greeted very warmly, and they began running tests on her. It was discovered that she was suffering from pancreatitis, but also had high white blood cell count, was anemic, very dehydrated, and had high kidney levels. Stella stayed at the vets for the duration of the day, and we picked her up that night. The vet asked us to bring her in the next day for another day of IV fluids, and sent home some medication with us. By the next morning, the vet expressed that she felt a ultrasound would be necessary to rule out any other underlying issues.
Unfortunately, we received devastating news that afternoon. The vet had discovered Stella was suffering from chronic kidney failure as well. She explained that while we may never know what caused this, we could try and treat it with food and medications. We were hopeful that with the proper care, we could maintain and slow down the progression of the renal failure. The problem was Stella wouldn't eat. The vet encouraged us to get her to eat anything at this point, and then we would introduce her special renal diet. Well Stella wasn't having any of it. She turned down all of her lifetime favorites. We couldn't believe she turned down her favorite chicken, broth, and rice combo. The vet gave us lessons on how to administer subcutaneous fluids, which we would do daily. Stella went in for daily visits with the vet, but after two additional days of her only eating a tablespoon here and there, it was decided a feeding tube would be inserted. We were willing do do anything so save our little girl. Her kidney levels were continuing to drop no matter what course of action we took. We tried the feeding tube, but sadly Stella couldn't keep any amount down. Vomiting and diarrhea ensued. We received more medication to control these symptoms. This was Wednesday.
Now fast forward to Thursday. We returned to the vet once again. Stella had gained two pounds in one day, which did seem to disturb the vet because remember she was eating. She also didn't seem to be absorbing the subcutaneous fluids we were administering. I could see the worry grow in the vets face, but we went home hoping for the best. But that wasn't to be. Around dinner time Stella did something very odd, she rose out of her bed, walked in a circle and then took a few steps with legs criss-crossing. It was very bizarre looking, and my sister and decided we would tell the vet about it the next day. Also, Stella kept going off to other rooms away from us, which is totally out of character. That night as I lay in bed, Stella wouldn't sleep. She just kept looking at me with her little almond eyes, and I would say her name and she'd wag her little tail. At about 1 am ( I was still awake), she rose out of her bed and walked towards her water bowl and just stood. I found it odd, and started walking over. Right then she fell on her side, then she stood up and tried to walk towards me but sadly fell again and began violently shaking. It was a seizure. I quickly called out for my sister in tears, and we rushed her to emergency animal care, not our local vet because they were closed.
Once we were there we handed her over and waited for any news. The vet then came into the room and explained that Stella had had another seizure in the back and offered us options. I just remember crying so hard, and trying to ask questions. She explained that they could pump valium into her to keep the seizures at bay until the specialist returned in the morning to offer more insight on possible care options. Her blood levels were all very low, and she was very dehydrated and her kidney levels were bad as well. My sister and I agonized over what to do. We called out parents whom were in Germany, and they made the final call. My dad explained that we had tried so much, and poor Stella was just getting worse and worse and was now suffering. What could this place offer, more than a couple more weeks of testing and pumping medication. Stella was dying whether or not we wanted to admit it. Through tears, we explained to the vet we were going to end her suffering. The vet the second questioned us, saying that they could keep her till the 9 am till the specialist came in. I really felt a little bit discouraged by her doing this. It was so so hard to already make the decision, I did not want to second guess myself. But my sister and I stood to our decision, trying to put Stella's needs in front of our own selfish needs to keep her alive.
I decided to stay with Stella until the end. They led me to a room where I was told I could either leave her on the couch and sit next to her or hold her in my arms. I couldn't imagine not holding my sweet little girl until the end. I had been the one that found her and begged my parents to let us have another sheltie, I would be the one to hold her in her last few minutes. I cringe thinking about this moment. Stella tried to hide her little paw as the vet reached for it, which made my heart just break. As the tears streamed down my face, my poor Stella took her last breath. Her little almond eyes just kept looking at me for comfort. I gave her one last kiss on the forehead, and rushed out of the office. I couldn't bear to talk to the vet, who tried to comfort me. I just wanted to cry and cry and cry. Why had this happened.. she was only eight years old.
Well on Friday afternoon, our local vet called us to check in as she had received the news. I cannot speak more highly of this vet. She tried her hardest to save our girl, but let us know that had made the right decision the night prior. Those words really helped us, as we keep questioning ourselves. I feel absolutely terrible right now. I feel like perhaps we gave up too soon. What if we had kept her there till the am? Should we have tried harder? I had to return to the emergency room today to pick up a cement paw imprint they offer after your animal passes. I couldn't even get my words out, before the tears started streaming. Just being in the place where our little Stella Bella had died broke my heart. I'm just really having a hard time dealing with our loss. With Dina, we had a year to prepare, and she was a senior dog. Of course I cried for her as well, but it was so sudden. And most importantly, I didn't have to make the final call. I sit here in tears, with Butters laying in my lap. She hasn't left my side. I keep asking did I end her life too soon? We spent $5,000 dollars these past two weeks to try and save her, but that still doesn't make me feel any better. I keep doubting my decision, and wondering what if?
This picture is the last picture I have of Butters and Stella together, you can see the concern on Butters face and Stella's wraps from her IV. <3