Beanie and I had our first visit today at a nursing and rehab facility. The week had gone by so fast that i didn't really have time to dwell on its' arrival and get nervous until just moments before bringing Beanie into the building. My whispered request to Beanie as we walked in? "Please don't pee on anything!" That was my worst fear (still is honestly!). It was hard maneuvering a big dog like Beanie around in those small bedrooms and they seemed to make him a bit more nervous and uncomfortable. But he was good and let everyone pet him that wanted to. He got quite a few excited, happy gasps and many claims of "Oh my goodness that's a big dog!" He seemed to enjoy the area where the residents were seated in a large living area, where he had more room to move and could go from person to person. The last person we saw on our visit was a man in the end of life unit. As we walked in he kept saying, "Oh that's Jake, that's Jake" Then he told us the story of the Pyrenees he owned at one time named Jake, who was actually a girl. Then he said something that made my heart swell, he said, "If there was to be just one dog in the world, a Great Pyrenees should be that dog". It was a very powerful statement to me and I feel its' truth to my core. Our next visit is in a month and I hope he is still there to see Beanie once again.
As uplifting as that part of my day was my heart was just too weighed down with impending sadness for it to truly lift me as it should have. My cat Fred, whom I have had since a kitten, was dying right before my eyes and it was time for me to make some decisions. Fred has had chronic renal failure since he was 5 years old. He survived on medication for a while, switched to Omega oils and then finally switched to regular treatments with fluids. Beginning around Christmas time we noticed his demeanor changing as well as his eating habits and energy level. He was wasting away and often sleeping. Selfishly wished him to hang on until after Christmas as I had just had to put down another beloved cat after Christmas last year and couldn't face having to do it again.
As I looked at him today I could no longer be selfish I knew he was miserable and in pain and couldn't bring myself to let him fade away like that. Yet at the same time I could not bring myself to stress him out by crating him and driving him to the vet in his state. Miraculously my husband found a Vet that did house calls and he came to the house to preform the euthanasia. My girls were here and got to say goodbye and they are off with their father right now bringing his body to our regular vet for cremation. I think they wanted to be part of the entire process. I think it is helping them process the whole ordeal within themselves, or at least that is what I'm telling myself. Decisions to involve children in experiences like this are so scary because you never know until it's too late if it was helpful or harmful. Time will tell I guess.
Then an odd thing happened after the Vet left and we were all alone with his body. I laid him on the floor wrapped in the blanket, wanting to let the other cats and Beanie investigate him if they chose to. His sister I think had already said goodbye before the doctor was ready for him, as she rubbed against him and kissed his ear, something she did not ever do. But as we sat with his body on the floor Cosmo came over to him and actually laid on him so their heads were close and he began grooming Fred. Cosmo has only known Fred for a short time and for most of that time Fred did not feel good, but it seemed to me that Fred made a big impression on Cosmo and he was letting Fred know. Beanie also investigated Fred thoroughly with his nose but was more concerned with my tears and sat in front of me so his nose was level with my eyes and sniffed my face and tears and voluntarily offered me my favorite spot on his head to kiss and hug. He sat there with me for quite sometime until I got up and then he went around and checked on everyone else as well.
My heart is broken and I wish time could stop for my broken heart but it goes on, as does life and while my heart will always miss Fred I am ever so grateful for him and all he brought into my life and really all he brought into the lives of anyone that met him. He was extraordinary and lived his life that way. We should all be more like Fred my cat.
Here is a picture of Beanie after his first Pet Therapy visit and then the last photo taken of Fred this afternoon: