I still have a ton of stories about Belle, and going through the pictures I saw yesterday, I will probably tell them. For now, I will tell the story of her last few days.
This might seem familiar because I posted part of it last year on FB.
Earlier in the year, I introduced Lily into Belle’s life in an attempt to give her a companion, as well as provide me with something to help me cope with her transition. What I didn’t realize was how aggressive Lily was going to be and how much of an issue she would be for Belle. The two got along a little. Belle, at this point, was just wanting to be left alone, and Lily just wanted to play. By play I mean knock Belle down and nip at her. I noticed tufts of hair that were no longer shedding tufts but pulled by Lily when they were playing. Belle’s tail was getting less and less fluffy. It could have been due to age or stress, but it was starting to look like a branch rather than a fluffy plume she used to carry proudly.
Before Lily came into our life, Belle was also having issues walking and running. Both of her legs joined as she ran while noticeably leaning to one side. I decided to get her some joint treats that made a difference, but when Lily came around, she seemed less inclined to run and pull at her leash as she used to.
After all the years of having her, she was finally potty trained and let me know when she needed to go out. We had a new routine. Lily would get crated, and whine and Belle would sleep in my room. I would take her out the back door and give her a chance to walk in the backyard to do her thing and then we would go inside and sleep. She had three beds and rarely used any of them. More often than not, she used them as pee pads.
One of the traits I noticed about her when I got her was the pronounced tuft of guard fur on her back that would be a cowlick in humans. As time progressed, it became apparent that it was actually a cyst as it grew over time. I had three different vets tell me it was not worth getting removed. Towards the end, it was about as wide as a tennis ball and raised an inch off her back. Because she was having the mobility issues, I took her to another vet. He also said it would be more harmful than good to get it removed. He told me to love her as much as I could and treat her as best as possible in the time she had left. And I did.
One day I came home from work, and I discovered her trapped beneath a chair in my kitchen. She was doing things like that more and more often. I don’t know if it was her not being able to see or just dementia. The vets tested her, and her hearing was excellent, but being a Malamute, they tend not to listen, so it was hard for me to tell that her hearing was fine. Her eyesight, on the other hand, was progressively deteriorating. So when I came home that day and saw her trapped, I was not shocked, but I was concerned. Looking where she was trapped, I saw he had cut her cyst, and it was bleeding. I treated it for a few days and went about my business, checking in on her every so often, as I had cameras in the house just for that purpose.
On a Wednesday (June 19th to be exact)… I recall it was a Wednesday because we had a game night at our office once a month on a specific Wednesday. I had plans to stay late at work and then go home to deal with the dogs. I opened my camera app and saw she was trapped under something and practically swimming on the ground. I had no idea what was on top of her. I started to panic and showed to one of my friends. He said to go home and take care of her. I wanted to but felt obligated to finish the rest of my workday. I ran downstairs to my boss and informed him by trying to show him the video. After a minute and the camera app not showing, he told me not to bother showing him and just get home and take care of Belle.
When I arrived home, I saw Lily’s elevated food dish was flipped on top of Belle, and she was stuck. I hastily removed it and checked on her. She had soiled herself, something that had become common at that point in her life, and popped the cyst on her back. At least, it was no longer there. There were fur and blood everywhere. I took pictures like it was a crime scene after seeing she was fine, but did not want to move anymore as she had worn herself out trying to get out from the weight on her back/side. The blood came from her paws as she had broken her nails off trying to get out.
After cleaning her, feeding both dogs, and crating Lily again, there wasn’t much else I could do. I didn’t want to be in that house at the moment, so I went back to the office and discussed the outcome with my bosses. They explained what it was like putting a dog down. How sad it was and other details that I will not reveal because it will incriminate them. I texted my contact at the new vet’s office and decided to do it. I already knew that I was going to go to them for this purpose because I knew how much they cared about animals and how much they would respect her remains. I wrote someone I wanted to see her before it was too late. Due to her schedule, she wasn’t readily able to see her so she would go to the vet with me. Based on those two things, I decided I would have her put down that coming Sunday. I didn’t want to do it, but she was causing herself more harm than anything.
I went home and looked after her. I bathed her and wrapped her in the towels and kept her in them for the next few days to get as much of her scent on them as possible so Lily would be okay after Belle was gone. Lily was playing with something black that smelled funny. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I had a feeling it could have been what was in Belle’s back. I grabbed it from her and tossed it.
A few weeks prior, I was noticing Belle was sitting outside Lily’s crate, and she was finally accepting Lily. I think she was trying to tell me it was OK that I had another dog and I would be fine without her.
In the next few days, I found her continually trying to injure herself. One day she was trying to crawl under my dresser and banging her head harder and harder to get in there. Another day, she was bumping into the wall. Every day I kept her, the more I knew it was getting closer to her time. She would wake to cry, and I was able to comfort her, but not for long.
Over the course of the few remaining days, I informed a few people of what was happening. My sister was one of them. I told her I was going to celebrate Belle’s last day that Saturday. She wanted to go along, so I said OK.
More tomorrow. I’m so mean. 🙂