Parker, 1/20/02 – 2/4/14

With the storm coming, I took Parker to MU on Monday for his second treatment instead of Tuesday.  He enjoyed the trip there, looking out the windows during the drive.  I was optimistic since the first treatment had gone so well, and we were thinking about taking a trip to a southern beach for Valentine’s Day weekend so he could swim, since he was expected to have 2-4 good months.

When they brought him back out, he didn’t look good.  I talked with the vet about what to do should there be a problem after we got home, and was told to take him to an emergency facility for IV fluids.  But there aren’t good emergency facilities in our area, and the storm was to begin at around midnight, further impairing any attempt to reach an emergency facility.  While we were talking, it became more apparent that things weren’t right.  The vet checked his heart rate, and it was very high.  They checked blood pressure and that was high.  So, he went to the ICU for an IV drip.  This increased his blood volume enough to improve his blood pressure and heart rate.  The working hypothesis was that even though the first treatment appeared to be working so well, with the bumps diminished or gone on his skin, that there may be internal areas where the tumors had spread, where the chemo agent was not effective, and the burden from the histamine release of those tumors, combined with the histamine release from the cells lysed by the treatment that afternoon was overwhelming his body’s ability to cope.  There had been a cloudy area in his lungs, and there was what was initially thought to be erosion in his esophagus and stomach.  When I got to see Parker, he seemed worse rather than better, and by afternoon he was having bouts of intense pain despite the medication being administered by IV.

I had talked with Parker about this in the previous couple of weeks, that I may need to make a decision in his best interest, and I would do that if necessary because he was so important to me.  I talked with three oncologists, one not affiliated with his case, and his regular vet, and each concurred that this can happen with treatment for aggressive mast cell cancer, that initially the response can be very good, but then a rapid decline can occur and in their experience, there was no turning back from this decline.  There were no options to relieve pain and allow him some opportunity to recover.  So, I had to say goodbye to Parker.

I drove home with him through the snow storm.  It was a long slow trip, but there was some comfort as he was still with me in physical form.  Greg and I talked the next morning about whether to bury him here or at my family farm where others were.  Parker has had such a short umbilical cord that I’ve become strongly tuned in to him – his worries, his requests to play or eat, and I’ve kept him close.  He goes to work with me, we travel together, he sleeps near the bed.  Knowing that loss is an inevitable part of life, it’s still an upheaval.  And over the course of the time that we’ve spent together, his separation anxiety has become mine.  If it were up to Parker, he would want to stay close, so I thought about keeping him here, near the irises along the drive, where I could look across in the mornings and think of him.  In that way, he could still be a part of the joy in the mornings.  But, if we rebuilt, our bedroom wouldn’t face that side, and if we moved, that would be difficult.  So, we decided to take him to the farm.

In this kind of storm, it wouldn’t be easy to find someone with a backhoe to come out.  We called a neighbor to reach another neighbor who had a backhoe, but that neighbor had a stroke not long ago.  The neighbor just past our farm had a small backhoe, though, and they were willing to try to get through the frozen ground.

The highways were in good condition, but the off-roads were not plowed, at home or at the farm.  We took the 4WD truck so we could get from the highway to the farm.  The neighbors met us there.  These are very kind people, and they were even more kind than I had realized.  They each hugged us and said that they felt the same way when they lost a dog.  They were able to get the backhoe up the hill, to where the others are.  The soil was loose enough for digging, but the backhoe slipped occasionally on the ice-crusted surface.  We laid Parker there and left some of his favorite toys with him.  His expression was sweet, as if he were napping.  We said our goodbyes for the last time we would see him.

Twelve years have gone by, and in an instant that you can’t prevent, it’s over.  It takes 12 years to graduate from high school, and similarly, when you know it’s coming, it’s hard to conceive of what life could be like afterward.  You know it will be different, and you know that all of what you have come to expect as “normal” will change.  Losing that comfort of daily seeing your mom and dad, and the rest of your family, is difficult.  When you leave high school, however, there is reason for optimism.  When you part with a living creature permanently, you can only pray that their needs are always met and that they are cared for when you can no longer be a part of their lives.

I have loved my time with Parker, from the wild days of his puppyhood through the maturity of his adulthood.  He was an excellent mentor and friend, very tuned in, very compassionate, very humorous, very kind.  I’m certain that he graduated with honors.  I will miss him every day, in more ways than I can describe.

He left before Valentine’s Day, but he was my sweetheart, and I will love him forever.

Parker, my Sweetheart

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014
This entry was posted in Final Departures (Loss), Seniors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply