I’m afraid the time is coming that I have dreaded. Tonight I am writing this post because I need to hold onto something.
The pug you see in the picture above is my beloved Sam. I have and do love every one of the ten pugs I have adopted with all my heart, but I have never had a deeper, more profound connection with, well not only any other pug, but any other animal in my life. Sampson was the second of the ten I adopted and he came to me in September 2007, the month I started this blog, Maitri’s Heart, and he surely has been mine.
I had adopted wee Babs, a tiny black senior, and the then head of the rescue called me knowing my experience with animals and asked if I would consider taking Sam. He had come out of terrible neglect and abuse, was terribly underweight and nearly starved to death when they got him. and they got him in good shape and adopted him out but he was returned. They said he was “too needy.” Mary said to me that he had very serious separation anxiety. I said “That’s okay, so do I,” and on he came and we instantly fell so in love and bonded so deeply with one another that we have almost never been separated. What you see above is pretty much how Sam and I have spent our lives together. Except for the last couple of years or so.
He is 15+ now and he has been slowing down these last couple of years but it has been a very slow, gentle progression. He hasn’t been able to hop up on the back of the chair or couch for some time due to arthritis but he is on lots of supplements and anti-inflamatory medication and he’s done really well. I lift him up on the couch or bed and he snuggles up with me. In the morning he climbs on top of me and we just hug and cuddle and kiss. He truly is my heart and soul.
Breathe Maitri, breathe, it’s okay if the tears come…
There have been signs. His slowing down has become markedly pronounced in the last months and then a couple of months ago at meal time young Tanner started going after Sam almost viciously. I nipped it right in the bud, feeling like a mother tigress protecting her young with my beloved Sam. I guard him while he eats but there has not been a day when it hasn’t been a struggle. The last several days he wouldn’t eat in the kitchen, he cowered just below in my studio so I fed the other dogs and came and sat with Sam and held the bowl while he ate so it wouldn’t slip around on the linoleum floor.
There have been other instances of the younger boys going after Sam but only 2 or 3 times, spaced out and again I was there like the mother tigress. All of this by way of saying a shift has been happening in the pack. The dogs knew it, I should have, but denial runs deep when the love is so great. They have all probably known this day was coming and this might not be the endpoint but I know we are growing close.
Today Sammy moved outside very slowly. Something has been off about his walk and his hind legs don’t work the same but he hasn’t acted like he was impeded in a serious way and at times when they get medications and vitamins and treats he has hopped around all over the place like a puppy. Even yesterday. This morning he was odd about it somehow. Tonight he wouldn’t come in the kitchen to get his vitamin and pills at all. He loves them because he gets them in peanut butter, but tonight he wouldn’t touch them at all. I finally coaxed him and he ate his tiny treat. When I tried to get them out to the potty Sam came out on the deck but wouldn’t go down the stairs. They do go potty on the big deck when they need to and he did. Still however my steadfast boy stood at the top of the staircase and waited for me. He will never go in without me.
Before their dinner for a long time Sam was up here in my lap. We’d all taken a nap together and he was snuggled very close to me but after we got up something wasn’t right. Tanner went after him, Sam cowered. I shooed Tanner and picked Sam up and he stayed here between my legs, my knees snuggling him then, and again now.
Time has passed. I keep breathing. I don’t like to take my hand off of him. Just moments ago tiny Delilah, confused because Sam was in her spot, wanted up. I leaned over precariously and scooped her up. I have been typing with one finger ever since…
The thing is that this is a very hard time. Sampson is obviously going through his final days on earth. It could happen tonight, or not for days, or God help me please not longer. People have asked me how I do this, adopt so many that are seniors or disabled in some way, and go through so many losses. And more babies have died in my arms or been put to sleep in my arms as I sang to them and kissed them and loved them over to the other side that I’ve lost count, but what people don’t understand is that it is never about me, it is about them. Is it hard for me? It is devastating. It is heartbreaking. And when Sam’s time comes it will be the worst of all, but again, this isn’t about how hard it is for me, it is about making it as easy as I can for him.
We have now moved into the Cozy Room so the babies could all be close. I carried Sam in and set him gently on the couch. Got my things together and brought my laptop in so I could finish this post. This will likely be a series of posts of Sam’s last days. This is the ultimate mindful act, being with a loved one through the final times. I am more present and alive in this moment than I have ever been in remembered time. I go to tears every once in awhile but I am mainly focused on Sam and the other babies. Delilah came, too, as a tiny one that has severe separation anxiety. She is asleep on my right shoulder, Sammy is laying next to me, leaning against me, sleeping, and my other sweet boys, Pugsley and Tanner are asleep next to Sam.
This is the beginning of a journey that I have dreaded and yet knew would come. And I knew when it came I would do everything I could to make it right for Sam. My grief will come after he is gone which I don’t want to be soon but I don’t want him to suffer either. We were at the vet recently and he’d had blood-work and all manner of tests and our dear vet remarked what amazing shape he was in for a boy his age. And even last week the way he bounced around was just so adorable. I would like to think it’s just an off day but the change has been happening so markedly, so quickly, I think the end is near. There is no vet to talk to, it’s the weekend, and I’d just as soon he go quietly at home with me. if he doesn’t we will go to the vet on Monday, I don’t want him to suffer and I won’t let him. But something in me feels that the end is very near. I haven’t talked to anyone, I don’t want to. I can’t deal with other people’s emotions or comments just now. It is just the babies and I, and this is as it should be.
I can barely breathe and yet I am focused completely on him. I don’t like to take my hand off of him so I am going to stop here. Please pray with me that he goes gently into that goodnight when it is his time. I will sit up tonight and sleep because I don’t want him to have to move. There’s plenty of time for that later. Please hold my boy very gently in your heart.