Monday, January 10, 2011


After making it through surgery and seemingly recovering well, last week it became very clear that something was very wrong with Nago. At first it started off with her refusing to eat all her meals, which is very unusual for her. She was more than willing to accept scraps, so we assumed that maybe we had just spoiled her around the time of her surgery and she was holding out for the good stuff. She had been limping on one of her front paws, so I made an appointment to have it checked out, assuming and hoping it was simply a case of arthritis acting up in the cold weather. But then in the couple of days leading up to her appointment, she had a few of accidents in the house and car and starting walking really funny, as if her back legs were not connected and communicating with the rest of her body.

Friday, as we entered the waiting room at the vet, she hobbled in and plopped herself down on the floor without making a sound. My heart sank, realizing that something was really very wrong because she normally yaps and whines the whole time we are there.

The vet, who is a family friend, gave Nago a very thorough exam before confirming my fears with his suspicions that something was wrong neurologically. She may have suffered a stroke or there may have been additional tumors affecting nerve function. Unfortunately without driving several hours to the nearest specialist with an MRI, there is no way to know for sure but as I have stated before, because of her age, we would not pursue any aggressive treatment for her so it was a moot point. I called and talked to Joe briefly, but I already knew he would agree with me. Not being able to properly walk around and no longer showing interest in simple things like eating, Nago's quality of life had greatly diminished. It was time to say our good-byes and put her down. She went peacefully with me holding and petting her, just as I had done for Utah only 5 months earlier.

And I am going to feel guilty for saying this and I will be crying as I write this, but I have not particularly enjoyed being a dog owner for the last year. It has not been easy watching them, as their health deteriorates, as they no longer can do the things they used to do, the things you want them to be able to do and that they themselves want to do. It has been hard to make medical decisions concerning their care and worry about doing what is best for them, not wanting to be selfish by hanging on for too long but hating the thought of having to let go.

Although I am sad, I know that for both dogs we did the best we could. I think we made the right decision at the right time for both of them. I am so thankful that they both got to live long and happy lives as a part of our family. I often think about that for Nago especially, as if we would not have adopted her when we did, her life would have been cut very short because of the circumstances. They were both an integral part of our family and they will be missed.

On Friday, after returning from the vet, informing both the kids that Nago had died and feeling the emptiness of our house, now dogless for the first time in 12 years, I posted about it on Facebook and I have to say the response I got has left me overwhelmed and touched. Thirty-five different people have commented, from people who knew Nago when we got her in Okinawa, to people who were around her at Pendleton in her heyday, family, friends local to us now and some who never met her but know the sadness of losing a pet. I think my Aunt Sue summed it best when she commented, "Don't you LOVE how we all understand this wasn't "just" a pet. Our animals are loved and treasured and a part of our families. Just like a child can never be replaced...that part of your heart will always belong to Nago." I don;t think I could have said it better myself.

Rest in peace Sweet Nago. You will always have a special place in our heart.


DesiDVM said...

Ah Jenn this is so sad, you really put into words very well what it's like to love and lose a beloved pet. I remember one of my vet school professors saying that having pets is a blessing and a curse; they bless us in so many countless ways with their innocence and loyalty and love, but the curse is that their lives are so short. Knowing it was the right thing to do doesn't make it any easier. I'm thinking of you guys.

Beth said...

Man, I just put mascara on and then sat down and read this. Stupid move. As I wipe mascara smudges off my eyes, please know I'm thinking of you. You gave Nago and Utah a wonderful life, so you should feel good about that. I'm sure they felt like an integral part of the family. (I just read The Art of Racing in the Rain. If you haven't read it, you should. But maybe you want to wait a while! Unless you want to bawl your eyes out.) Anyway, hugs!

Lindsay said...

THis one hit me hard because Nago looks so much like our Ace. Ace got a lot of extra lovin' this weekend.

Angela said...

Yeah, totally made me cry too. Hugs to you guys. Dogless houses just aren't the same.

Joanna said...

Well, you got the tears out of me at work. Totally worth the beautiful post.

I think you guys did a great job prolonging Nago's quality of life, and even though it was hard for you, I think you did very well by Nago in making such hard decisions.

Big, Big hugs.

Steph said...

I am so sorry Jenn. I know you are sad to lose Nago. Hugs to you and the rest of the family.