“365 Days of Mindfulness” [Day 28] Holding On, Part 1…

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.

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. my heart is with you and Sam. I have done end of trail rescue for years and I know something of what you are both going through. Much, much love and heartlight to you and your pack.

    edie

  2. My heart is with you. Going through similar with my 16 year old cat Linus Pawling. They need us, we need them for however long we get to be together.

  3. To take a dog into our lives is pure love, they give unconditionally and love us for us, not how much we have or what we look like. We had to say goodbye to Barney when he was 15.5, Pancho when he was not quite 12. Each passing was hard and took time to heal. We never forget those fur babies (have pictures every where, along with their ashes) their memories live on in our home.

    We now have Shiloh who is 2.5 next month and although still young we know we will have to go through the heartache ache. Remember they are all over the rainbow bridge waiting for you.

    Take care Dear Maitri sending you my thoughts and love and for Sam know you will be with him on his final journey. x

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sam.
    love and hugs,
    Margaretha

  5. My tears, Love, laughter and hugs – and my Self – are with you.

  6. Hugs and warm thoughts to you and Sam. He doesn’t want you to suffer either, so tenderly practice your self-care during this time.

    Valerie

  7. Nothing like a pet
    to open a person’s heart
    wider than we dreamed

    My heart weeps with you
    i know what it is to lose
    but not yet, not yet

    xo
    ka

  8. Teresa Myszka says:

    My heart reaches out to your heart…I understand the pain and grief of losing a beloved pet, I’ve been there many times in my sixty four years. The joy they have brought into my life has outweighed the grief I felt at losing them tenfold….how blessed I have been to have experienced that.
    I send love, light and gentle hugs to Sam as he gently transitions. I am mindful of your pain dearest Maitri and send you love and courage as you send your beloved Sam into the light.

  9. Karen Traweek says:

    Love for you. Peace and love for Sammy

  10. Thinking of you and Sam, Maitri.

  11. Thank you all so much. He got up this morning and we went out to the potty. He seems a little more alert but is moving very slowly. Endtimes are curious things. One can seem as though they have one foot out the door and then the next day they are better and then markedly worse and then surprising better, given the circumstances, and on it goes. And there is, as with people, often a little surge of energy right before the end that gives you hope that they will be okay and then they go quickly after that. Yesterday I thought he wouldn’t make it through the night. We will go to the vet tomorrow and get a better understanding of the situation and I will keep you all posted.

    The unbelievable kindness, love, and support you have all shown me here have touched me so deeply I have a lump in my throat, but it is just these kind of loving good wishes that help us through the end. With all of the issues that I have I suddenly become clear and strong when my animals need me and so I shall be for my Sammy. He is my heart. He is resting in his bed here beside me now. We will move gently through the days ahead. If he can be with me longer and not in pain or sick that will be wonderful. He doesn’t seem to be suffering as some of my dogs have that had to be given the sad shot at the end of their days. Sammy seems as if a bright light were just getting ever dimmer, sometimes it glows a little stronger and the fades again. His light has not yet gone out, and I will sit with him until the very end no matter when that is.

    My deepest deepest love and gratitude to each and every one of you.

    Maitri, and my sweet Sam Man…

  12. Oh, how I ache for you, Maitri. His spot in your soul will always be his, even when he is gone. Watching Sam slip away is so painful. He is light and love and ever grateful to be at home with you.

  13. I understand your pain. When I first discovered our local ferret shelter I was a fairly recent cancer survivor. Ferrets are proned to various cancers. It broke my heart that these wee little furry angels had no home to die in. I fostered terminal cases. some I had for days, some ralleyed and lived months but each had a home and were so loved. Maitri, I do so understand how you feel, seeing signs it will happen again. I am sure that you have seen the poem “The Rainbow Bridge.” If not, please let me know and I will send it. I believe in my heart that our beloved pets (whether adopted or fostered) wait for us to join them when our light goes out. That place is called the rainbow bridge. We lost our beloved director 4 years ago. Norm was so devoted to these creatures he almost died in the shelter when his heart gave out. It gives me great peace knowing that Norm also is waiting at the bridge and greeting each of the shelter’s ferrets that comes across. I know Norm would be far happier in animal heaven than people heave, if thee is such a distinction. Sam will not be alone when he crosses the bridge. All your babies you have loved are waiting for him. And in my heart I know you will meet all of them too when the time is right. I hope that this brings you peace. My tears are flowing with you. I’m holding your hand in spirit and send love and light and sympathy. I asked Norm to keep an eye out for Sam.

  14. My heart goes out to you Maitri…I too have been where you are now.
    What an honor to be loved by a faithful companion and to love them so fully in return.
    You and your furry family remain in my prayers
    Blessings to you, Sam and the Pugs <3
    Donna

  15. Cathryn, Paula, and Donna, and again, all of the rest of you that wrote your loving gentle notes, thank you so much. We are having a slow quiet day as I do my work to prepare for my class starting tomorrow with Delilah in my lap and Sam here in his bed where he prefers, huge cushy bed where he can stretch out more but I can reach down and touch him. He has gone out to the potty twice through the doggie door on his own after I took him out this morning, he took his vitamins and meds and ate his breakfast with me holding his bowl for him here in the studio, my sweet gentle boy. But he is mostly sleeping. I really thought I would lose him last night but finally we curled up together and slept. Very early this morning I sat up and I swear I didn’t think he was breathing, I put my hand on him and he didn’t flinch and I almost cried out, I thought he had passed, but then he moved a little and made a little puggy snuffling sound and I smiled, and kissed him and laid back down again with all of the babies on and around me. Not just yet, not just yet.

    I don’t know what the days ahead will bring but I feel that I have to write about it here and chart this journey and take lots of pictures. If he is poorly on Thanksgiving I will not leave him to go to my daughter’s. I will not leave him at all. Tomorrow we go to the vet to get him checked but I think this is just a sweet old man who is wearing down. Really, this is what I have wished for him, not a terrible illness, just a slow, quiet, gentle passing in our bed or in my arms. The pain cuts deep but my love for him is so strong, I will do anything to see that his end will be as filled with love and tenderness as all of our years together have been. He is my teddy bear boy. I cannot stop kissing him.

    And dear Paula, I just so love your work with the ferrets. Animal people are my people. In my life, with extensive abuse throughout my whole childhood, it was my animals who saved me, and I will spend my life saving them. People have hurt me, animals never have. I have completely dedicated my life to them. And yes I have long known about The Rainbow Bridge and believe in it absolutely. As each animal companion has passed my vet has sent me a beautiful card with the Rainbow Bridge poem. It always makes me cry and is such a comfort.

    Blessings and love to all of you for your continued support and kindness. It means more than you could possibly know…

    With more love than words can express…

    Maitri

  16. Maitri, I know all too well what you’re writing about. All the outside advice in the world won’t be any better than your gut instinct. Everyone says you know when it’s time, and you really do. My own barometer for determining when to let go is when they are not doing 3 of 4 of the things they usually love. And with pugs, 1 of those is always eating 🙂 like you said, it isn’t about us; it’s always about them and letting them go with grace and dignity. That’s the greatest gift you can give your boy. As a veterinary technician, I’ve never heard an owner say they did it too soon but have heard numerous regrets for waiting too long. You’ll know in your heart when it’s time. It’s never easy, but 15+ is a long, wonderful life!!

    • Dear Cara, thank you for your sweet note…

      This weekend has been a huge lesson in just what I have been writing about and am about to write about now in my new post, mindfulness. Be where you are, right in this moment, right now.

      I truly believed I was going to lose Sam last night. Today as the day went on he has done much better than I could possibly have expected but I think yesterday was the a message for me to realize that our time is limited. If I worry about when it will happen or fill all of the days we do still have together worrying about when the worst will come I will lose the precious tender moments we do still have left and I won’t do that. Sammy and my other babies are snuggled up to me asleep now. I will treasure each of them every single moment of every single day. Between yesterday and today what I come down to is there is no way that I can possibly know what will happen. The vet will check him tomorrow but he has just been there very recently and I think she will not be able to tell me anything I don’t know. I have a beloved old boy who is coming closer to the end, but how close, who’s to say? It is not in my hands, mine is just to love and cherish him and the other babies every single second of every single day and so I will. What else is there to do?

      Much love to you dearheart and to all who have written. You have no idea what it has meant to me. I am sending you all so much love…

      Maitri

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