Tsuki: Saying Goodbye

Tsuki in a nest she made of blankets

Tomorrow, on December 28th, at 1:30 pm EST, I am taking my 13 year old schnoodle Tsuki to the vet for the final time.

Last week, she had a grand mal seizure. I was shaking myself as I held her trembling body in my arms, her mouth foaming, trying to murmur soothing words and comfort while tears gushed down my face. As soon as she settled down, I rushed her to the emergency vet, trying hard not to go into complete hysterics as I drove.

They took her into a back room and I was taken into an examination room to wait. The doctor came to talk to me, I explained what happened, mentioned specifics. My hands felt so cold as I spoke. The vet was very kind. I remember that. She reminded me of some combination of my Fantasy prof and my friend Seanna, which I found comforting.

She talked me through the basics of seizures, the postictal period, and the fact that dogs are resilient and rarely experience TBIs as a result of even grand mal activity. That the blindness and confusion she was experiencing were all within the norm for seizures in dogs and would pass within the next 24 hours. At 13, she was too old to be presenting with epilepsy for the first time.

 

It is possible that this was a onetime event, but if she had another seizure, then it would confirm an underlying cause.

That’s when she passed on the bad news, the most likely cause was a brain tumour.

Over the last year, I – and others- had noticed pretty significant changes in Tsuki. I had wondered at times if perhaps she was developing dementia. I had wondered if she was going blind, though her cataracts were far from where they should have been impacting her ability to see. She seemed to be somehow more anxious.

So much of that made sense in context: break ups can be as hard on pets as on children. It makes sense that in a tense environment that an anxious animal might experience anxiety.

In hindsight though, it created a distressing pattern that pointed to neurological symptoms worsening over a period of time. In the last few days, additional signs have been jumping out at me, and after consulting with my vet

 

, various information, and so on, I realized that the likelihood was quite high that this was not a one off event.

Tsuki was my first real pet as an adult. She was Alyssa’s and my first pet.

When I adopted her, she was a poor scared thing. My friend has rescued her from a pet store that had had her for way too long. The poor girl didn’t really know how to speak dog properly. She would growl at you, confused about why you weren’t giving her skritches.

She was such a nervous thing that she would bark at anyone who moved around the apartment, when people came to the door she would bark and hide in the corner. When we were in the elevator, she would hide behind me shaking.

Grey schnoodle holding pink octapus

Tsuki bonded to me immediately. If I was home, she was attached to me in some way: curled into my leg in such a way to have as much of her touching me as possible.

In the first few weeks of her being with me, I was scratching her belly while she sat on my lap, when all of a sudden, she started l

 

actating. Was my brand new dog about to have puppies? That’s how I learned about the interesting world of canine hysterical pregnancy which would lead to her adopting her little pink octopus and carrying it with her everywhere she went, grooming it, building it nests. It was adorable, and vaguely worrisome when she would then bring it to us to throw across the room.

She eventually relaxed quite a bit, no longer needing to be completely glued to me to feel safe. Instead, being in the same room was plenty. If I got up and changed rooms though, she would be sure to get up and follow me. So consistent was she that I was never afraid to walk her off leash, knowing she would stay close to me even when I WANTED her to go run and play.

The day she had her seizure, I woke up like any other day and went to the bathroom. Something didn’t feel right though and I soon figured out what it was. My little grey shadow was nowhere to be seen. I called for her. Nothing.

I was so scared as I was looking for her and found her completely asleep underneath my desk, groggily looking up at me before going back to sleep. She was fine, just asleep, but still it was an anomaly that felt ominous.

The one time she did run off for a bit was when we were in Mont Tremblant. Chased off by an overly attentive and playful larger dog, she ran into the woods. She was finally found in the presence of a cranky older French lady, who did not appreciate my anglophone ex calling her back in French after saying she didn’t speak any.

She was so protective of me. One of the gentlest dogs I’ve ever met, I’ve watched her suffer a four year old to carry her around upside down without complaint. And yet if she thought I was in danger, she was ready to jump to my defence.

When we travelled together, she would nap with her body positioned across the door. No one could enter without passing through her first. The only time I ever say her snarl and lunge at someone was when they had bent over me while I was asleep to give me a (consensual) kiss goodbye.

I saw red when her little body flew into the wall as the guest in my house reacted by kicking her. I still can’t believe she wasn’t hurt. If I hadn’t been restrained, I may well have thrown them out the window.

She’s been there for me, her warmth providing comfort as my tears soaked into her fur. She carried so much love in her. My little baby. I can’t believe I have to say goodbye.

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Tsuki: Saying Goodbye
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