A clay paw print from the emergency pet hospital is drying on the top shelf of my bookshelf, a kind gesture that at the time, and now, feels like a mockery of my amazing dog's life pressed on to wax paper. I currently hate that fucking circle of clay. It's so inadequate, but I suppose at some point in the future it could be a cherished reminder of what we lost.
I carried that wax paper on my lap as Alex and I drove through the dark, abandoned streets, it's crinkling noises making me think of how different the drive in the opposite direction had been, only a few short hours before. Indiana, scared and whining, pressing his head in to the corner of the door and seat as he foamed and drooled. I tried to hold him in one spot, tried to keep him comfortable and calm.
I felt terrified and useless, completely incapable of helping this loving animal that had been my baby before I ever had children. Guilt and sadness washed over me as I started to fear my dog's uncontrollable behavior and I realized that this was all I had left with him.
I loved that dog. From the time the rescue organization brought him to my house, to the moment I felt his little heart stop beating under my hand, he was an amazing gift. He brought me comfort and companionship during my rocky adjustment to life as a married woman, and even more as I stumbled and fell in to motherhood.
He was a constant source of compassion and unconditional devotion when I needed him most.
How many times has his hair been entwined in my fingers, my hand running over his warm and soft back as he laid his content and loving head on my lap? How often was this my source of calm amidst the seemingly unending exhaustion and demands I felt others required of me? Oh how I loved that dog.
It all happened so fast. Thursday morning he had a little trouble walking, stumbling around the yard as if he had too much to drink. After a quick trip to the vet though, my fears were quelled with a a positive diagnosis, everything checked out, it could have just been a fluke. I was told to keep an eye on him and normal life resumed. He was tired, he seemed needy, but he was fine.
As I talked to my parents outside the next afternoon though, I suddenly heard Alex yell for me, panic and fear in his voice. I came inside to see my Indiana rolling in his urine, yelping, legs stiff and foam covering his clinched mouth.
Please God, please erase the horror of this image from my mind as soon as possible.
He came out of it after a few minutes, visible shaking, looking scared and almost guilty.
We quickly took him to the vet again where we were told that he either had epilepsy or something neurological. We prayed hard for epilepsy. There was medication to control seizures in epileptic dogs and many could live long, happy lives with the condition. Please give us epilepsy.
Unfortunately, Indiana was 7.5 and most dogs develop epilepsy between the ages of 2-5. If he were 10 we could condemn him right there to a brain tumor, but he was right on the verge of there being a slight bit of hope for something different, and we clung to it.
On the way out the vet though, Indiana couldn't walk again. Alex had to carry him to the car and by the time we got home he had started heavily panting and drooling. He couldn't see and looked lost inside the home that he dominated for over two years. I tired to help soothe him and encouraged him to sit with me, but he was visibly scared again and within an hour he was twitching, yelping, and foaming at the mouth.
Alex and my Dad immediately took him to the vet. I stayed home, feeling cowardly, but ill at the sight of my beloved pet's body failing him so. I couldn't handle it.
By the time Indiana came home again he was heavily sedated and had a prognosis that if he even started to display conditions of a seizure again, it was over. The vet had been less enthusiastic about her epilepsy claim, but wouldn't rule it out if he could just come out of this seizure state.
Three short and painful hours later we were traveling with him to what we knew was the end.
He couldn't stop his seizures. The vet at the animal hospital was mercifully much more direct in his prognosis. This vet was definitive after one look into Indiana's eyes, each rolling in a different direction, and a few brief questions about the normality of Indiana's behavior in the previous weeks. We hadn't even considered his behavior to be too dramatic until we were sitting in that fucking room.
We had options, but none of them got us Indiana back for anything more than a month or so, and none of them put Indiana out of this horrible state. Alex made the call as I sobbed over the absurdity of this all. I had been rubbing his belly 12 hours ago on the floor of my bedroom. How did we get here?
My mind plays cruel tricks on me, making me believe my black purse on the floor is Indiana curled up for a nap. Stella's spilled cereal sits untouched until someone actually comes to pick it up, and it feels like a huge punch in the gut as I am reminded that he isn't here to scavenge for dropped food. I hear him walking through the bushes on to turn and see a bird that is apparently really, really mean.
Oh it all just sucks. It really, really sucks.
I miss my dog.
Rest in peace Indiana. You were greatly LOVED.