Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye, Scooter

I realized that, although I've told my family and friends, I did not share here that our dog Scooter's struggle with cancer ended rather abruptly on Sunday, December 22.

As I shared before, Scooter was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, called hemangiosarcoma. Although we could have spent thousands of dollars and put her through abdominal surgery, there was no assurance that she would recover. (At one point the vet said that if he opened her up and found the cancer on both her liver and spleen, he would recommend not waking her up.)

On Saturday, December 21, I gave Scooter the toys that her "aunt" Lori had sent her for Christmas. When Lori learned that Scooter was sick, she asked us to give Scoot the toys immediately, rather than wait. So I did.

That is a happy dog.

It was always a major achievement to remove the stuffing.
She enjoyed those toys for the rest of Saturday. On Sunday morning, December 22, I came down to see this.

Something had changed overnight. Steve was down before me and saw that Scooter had pooped on the carpet and was hiding in the sunroom (which was much colder than the living room). She held herself stiffly and shivered.

Steve cleaned up her mess, then brought her back into the living room, covered her with a blanket and lit a fire. When I came down, she seemed to be in pain, so I tried to feed her a pain pill; she refused it.

She tried to stand, but was wobbly on her legs. She was breathing loudly. Her gums were pale. A few minutes later, she suddenly stood up and vomited a virtually undigested meal (including the last pill we had given her the night before), then she flopped down right next to it.

I cleaned it up and covered her with the blankie again. I didn't try to move her.

Murphy's Law colluded to make the morning even more stressful: Steve had taken the small car to church (where I couldn't reach him) and it had snowed heavily overnight, blocking the van in the driveway. It was also a Sunday and our regular vet was closed.

But with help from my sons, I got the van free, turned the blanket into a stretcher and got her loaded up. A short drive later, we were at the emergency animal hospital and I explained what was going on.

They took Scooter immediately and inserted a catheter into her vein. They showed me to a room with a big, comfy couch and brought Scooter to me.

The vet explained that Scooter's abdomen was distended, probably filled with blood from a leaking spleen. She was in pain.

After injecting a mild anesthetic (to reduce Scooter's anxiety), the vet slowly injected the overdose of anesthesia. She stopped breathing. The vet told me I had made the right decision, then she told me to knock on the door when I was ready, and she left us alone so I could hold her and do the ugly cry in privacy.

I held her and cried for a while. I didn't want to let her go, but then I touched her ear and it was cold, and I thought: she's not here.

So I called in the vet and did the necessary paperwork. I opted to have Scooter cremated and to receive her ashes so that we could have some kind of memorial when Pat and Ross are back next summer. Most of the members of her first family had not been able to say goodbye to her, so I felt it was important to give them an opportunity for closure.

Grief is unique for each one of us, and it is helpful to remember that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to experience loss. I find that each new grief brings echoes of all the others I have loved and lost. There is a sort of recognition to the feeling now: ah, yes. Grief again.

Many people are reluctant to adopt a new pet again, at least in the short term. For me, however, I think I want a new dog sooner rather than later. Scooter really opened my eyes to the experience of being a dog owner -- it is a surprising and wonderful thing.

I still have Elly, of course -- and she is a wonderful cat. (I'm totally gaga over her!)
Phew! That was a hard nap!
But it's no secret that, no matter how much you think your cat loves you, dogs are the ones who really show attachment. It's an entirely different relationship as shown in this experiment.

So after the dust has settled from the Christmas-New Year's frenzy, I'll be scanning shelters and pet rescue websites for a new member for our family.


  1. What a lovely tribute to Scooter. The video about the emotional attachment of babies, dogs and cats is quite interesting. When the time is right, a new dog will enter your home and heart and the memory of Scooter will live on.

    1. It is fascinating, isn't it? I'm keeping my heart open.

  2. Scooter was a great dog. I'm glad you were with her when she went.

    That video was fascinating! It only proves to me that cats are jerks!

    1. Cats are jerks. And I am completely devoted to the the one that owns me.

  3. When Scooter came into our lives, we had no idea what a great impact that she would make on us. Scooter was the first (and probably the only) dog for both Pat and myself. Scooter arrived after the loss of Father, and before the death of my mother. Scooter was a source of comfort for me. She was always committed and enjoyed being wherever the rest of the family was located. Scooter was bright, and enjoyed performing her many tricks.

    When we were making the move to Switzerland, making the difficult decision of leaving our dog behind in CANADA was make easier by the kind offer of a new home by Wynn Anne & Steve. I will always be thankful for their love for my Scooter.

    1. I think of Scooter -- and therefore you -- often, Ross. Thank you for trusting us and for allowing us to share this short time with her.


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