September 29, 2017

Friday things (Baz Swells Happy)

Hello.

Usually my "Friday things" are about the good things throughout the past week and what great things made the week awesome. This week, however, isn't about that at all, or could it be?


I always try to lean toward the positive in life and look for things to help make bad situations easier to handle, but I am struggling today to put all of that into focus to where I can find a positive.

Yesterday we had a tough, hard, difficult-and all the words describing pained-decision. It was the hardest thing in the world to me, so far, and I say that without regret. Our beloved Baz Happy fell down the top section of our stairs yesterday morning and hit the landing area to the next set of stairs. He had slept upstairs with The Bean the night before. The kitten we adopted last December startled him at the top of the stairs, by batting his tail, he was wagging in excitement for the day. He turned suddenly from being startled and lost his footing on the top step. He didn't come rolling down the stairs, but rather fell sideways onto the first step and slid down the remaining five stairs. The first step he hit sideways on his bad hip and fractured his femur bone. We didn't know the extent of his injuries, but we were hoping for the best. Maybe a knee out of joint, or his hip bruised really bad, but nothing prepared us for what we were told.


I wasn't ready for the news we were given. I don't think any of us were, really. You go into the vet's office each time with an older dog hoping for the best, but always knowing that there could come a visit that isn't what you want to hear. Before we took him in, I put him outside in the yard to see if he could bare some pressure on the leg at all in hopes that it was just a bad sprain, or bruise that could be fixed in no time and we would be bringing him right back home that day. Baz did end up peeing and even took a small poo without baring pressure on the injured leg. I had high hopes that since he did those two things, that it would be a simple injury and I could nurse him back to health, like I have done many times before. I always took care of him and he knew it. I was his person, and he was my friend, but I couldn't fix this. I didn't even know how to try to fix it and I have gone two days now punishing myself for not being smart enough to fix him. I know it's not my fault, but part of my grieving has to be some self-blame before I can move on. When we took him into the veterinarian she looked him over and did remark about his age, 16 years and nine months, and told us that if it is broken, there is nothing we can do because surgery is not an option for him at this point. I braced myself still hoping for the best and when she came back with the x-ray it was much worse than we expected. Bone cancer. And it was aggressive. I had no idea. I went numb knowing that my sweet, loving, friend was not coming back home with us that day. The bone cancer had eaten up so much of his bad leg where the break happened and the bone was literally rotted away and cancer was destroying my pal.


I felt helpless and I still do even after the fact. When you lose a pet to something that you can't repair, or help, does the feeling ever really go away? I'm going to bet on the answer and say no. It won't ever leave me knowing that he died from something I couldn't fix. The broken femur was repairable, maybe even fixable in the long run, but the bone cancer couldn't be repaired. And it gutted me knowing this.

Baz never let on that he was in pain. He never showed signs of failure. Even with his old hip injury from a car hitting him 14 years ago, he never let on that he was dying on the inside from cancer. He had a heart murmur, and hip dysplasia, and we saw where he was slowing down, but never anything more than what we were told to expect with older dogs. I felt like I had failed him. He was there for me through a lot of things and I personally felt like I failed him. We knew the decision to put him to sleep was already decided for us before we even said "okay." The moment of doing it is something that I will never accept completely. I feel like I let him down. The image I had of him when this moment came, the moment he would leave us, wasn't anything like what happened. I imagined being at home with him, cuddled up, being there with him, while he made the decision to go on his terms. I had the image of that so embedded in my head that this moment didn't seem real. I couldn't believe that it was happening. But it did. And now he is gone. He left us the same way he came, unexpected, but so full of love. He had such dignity and love as he passed and he has torn my heart out in the process.


Each member of our family, all three of us, had a different relationship with Baz. I was here with him, day in and day out. I wiped his eyes out when they were matted or watered, I cleaned him up after he peed on himself, I gave him his baths, I massaged his hips and spine area, I rubbed shea butter on his rough paws when they needed it, I put sunblock on his ears so he wouldn't burn, I trimmed his fur when it was matted, I brushed his teeth, I cuddled with him when he was cold, I washed his Mickey Mouse blanket when it was soiled, I put his Razorback sweater on him when he was cold, and put on his rain coat when it was raining. And the best part of it all, he loved me for loving him.

We can't help but remember some of the fun, crazy, and amazing things Baz gave us. Him standing at Cape Kiwanda in the sand with his sweater on, showing us his big smile on his face that he always had just being with us on our many road trips, the move from Arkansas to Oregon, and the many other things, places, and adventures we went on with him in tow. He loved being with us. Road trips we've taken with him and how he would look at us with a look to just say, "thank you for bringing me." I won't be able to forget those times with him anytime soon and my grieving process will last a long time for him. As he aged, his hip began to bother him more and more, and before long he became a special needs dog. I was okay with it, as long as I could prolong his pain and life just a bit longer. And I did my best. I made him happy. A huge chunk of my time was for him. Now, I don't know how to change to the new normal. I hope eventually the ache in my heart and mind is less, but right now, it's almost as if there's that missing piece in my life that I can't find. His bed, dinner plate, sweater, Mickey Mouse blanket, rain coat, collar, bandanna, leash, dog house-with his name on it, all of his many dog tags we've made him, his folder with all of his medical records, and his pillow will sit on the dresser for now. I will put them away, or shift them to PITA before too long, but for right now, I like having them there to remind me that his presence is still here in some way.


It is only the day after, and as expected we are all grieving so much pain. It's incredible how much hurt we can actually handle in life. To you, the reader, this dog is just that, a dog. To us, he was a member of our family that's been with us for 15 years. He was there the day we brought The Bean home from the hospital. He was the first animal to see The Bean as a newborn. Those moments will live on in my memory forever. He was The Bean's buddy and watched him walk, talk, grow, and learn about life. Baz was there. He has always been there. He was more than "just a dog" to us. He was our pet, our companion, our loving Baz, and above all, he was our friend. He will be missed, wanted, needed, yearned for, and most of all loved forever by us and anyone else that had the pleasure and luck of meeting the infamous, free-spirited dog named, Baz Swells Happy.


When people who have never had a dog see dog owners mourn the loss of a pet, they probably think it is a bit of an overreaction. After all, it is “just a dog.” Fortunately, most are too polite to say this out loud. But those of us who have loved a dog know the truth: Your own pet is never "just a dog." -source

I'd love for you to see all of the great things we shared with Baz. There's a lot of posts on my blog about him and they are right here. If there is one thing you take away from this blog post it would be for me to tell the you, and the rest of the world, what a great, loving, wonderful, cool, loyal, perfect, friend of a dog he truly was. He was. He most certainly was.

We'll see you later, old buddy.
Thank you for loving us.
-Life at a "Swell's" pace-
Baz Swells Happy (November 12, 2000 - September 28, 2017)

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