Saturday, October 10, 2009

Snowy, Fluffy sadness

Wednesday brought much sadness into our home, as we lost our darling dog Fluffy, who was a much loved member of our family. She was 11 years old and had been suffering from cancer of her leg for some time. She was the most beautiful and unusual of souls, a family protector and loving, affectionate friend to the end.

It was during the early summer when we noticed there was something wrong with her paw. The local vet gave her three courses of antibiotics. The first helped, but then it got worse and the vet said that Fluffy would need to have a toe amputated. So we saw another vet in Rovaniemi who performed the procedure and took samples for testing. We had to wait a few weeks for that to come back, as it had to go to Germany of all places - and when it did, it confirmed our worst fears - that our sweet Fluffy had cancer. The vet explained that the type of cancer she had was likely to reoccur in the area of the original site, but it would not move to internal organs. He suggested a total leg amputation or putting her to sleep as an option.

Fluffy just after her op.

The latter was an absolute no-no. We discussed the amputation, but felt that it was such a radical move when she was aging. We wondered if she would cope and decided that she would. We booked the appointment for the operation, but by the time it came to be, Fluffy had three other sites of cancer on her leg and the worst had appeared - literally overnight - on her shoulder. This made it absolutely impossible to remove the leg, as the cancer was so invasive there already.

Again we were offered the option of putting her to sleep, but at that point she was not in pain and was still Fluffy, playing, eating, drinking, going for walks - albeit more slowly. We just couldn't do it to her. In most respects she was still normal.

Fluffy loved the snow, being half Samoyed she was just made for it, with deep, dense, luxurious hair and when we moved to Finland, she delighted in it. We hoped that she would continue to live long enough to see her favourite element of snow once more, but at the time that seemed almost impossible.

Then my Mother told me of someone in my home town who had been using Manuka Honey from New Zealand for their dog and whilst very expensive, we decided to give this a go - anything was worth trying for our Fluffy. It is made by bees that feed on the flowers of the Manuka bush - the New Zealand Tea Tree which is related to the Australian Melaleuca tea tree. Manuka honey therefore has anti-bacterial properties. It can be used as a topical antibiotic and antifungal for wounds that fail to close. Instead of buying ready made cream, we bought 'Spirits Bay' plastic jars of Manuka Honey from the UK and Mum posted it to us. Each jar was £28 and had a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 20. Here is a site that will explain this fantastic helper from Mother Nature - there are three reviews worth reading.

We applied the Manuka Honey to Fluffys cancer sores and to the bumps that were under the surface and bandaged her up. She also thoroughly enjoyed eating it daily. We also gave a little bit to Dexter, our Husky, so he didn't feel left out. It worked. Gradually the largest sore on her shoulder closed up. Amazing. It certainly perked her up and helped her. We knew we were fighting a losing battle though, after all this was cancer. The big, dark, horrid b**st**d of C.

She bore her illness with dignity, she was an excellent patient, putting up with washings and dressings and having to wear a Tshirt over it all. Although her walks with her beloved Daddy and brother were getting shorter all the time, once in a while she would do the whole long walk and still thoroughly enjoyed it. She still ate and drank as normal. She was still relatively happy in herself.

We discussed several times as a family, that in the event of her pain becoming too great that we would have to give her the final ultimate gift of release. No matter how hard that was. The vet had said that this type of cancer can, with effort on the part of the human, be handled quite well, but would in all likeliness suddenly change.

And so it did. Wednesday morning we woke to find Fluffy in a lot of pain. We gave her her normal painkiller. Then another, yet still she was unable to find a peaceful spot. My husband called me at lunchtime to discuss the situation.

Around lunchtime the snow started. Well, actually it was a blizzard. By the time I came home from work, we had several centimetres of snow, at least 25. I knew it was for Fluffy.

I took her outside into the front garden and she buried her face into the snow and just wanted to lay there. She was so pleased to see the snow! We had managed to get her from this summer to snow time, I was so pleased about that - for her.

By the time I got home she had just had her fourth painkiller and we were by that time concerned that it would also be causing her stomach pain. She looked so sad, something she had not presented previously. She was dragging her leg, whereas before she had been able to put weight on it slightly.

I knew. I said it was time. Our youngest son (Fluffys best friend) was adamant.. no, not yet. Our elder son thought that she might be having an off day and be better the day after, as had happened once before. My husband was unsure of which way to go, but we knew this day was different. With each minute he was thinking more and more as I was - hard as it was. We discussed the fact that because Fluffy had had more medicine than usual, that we were nearly out of fact just two left... and we doubted that the vet would prescribe more if she saw her. Finally, with much sadness, we all agreed and called the vet.

We had previously arranged with Annukka our vet, that when and if the time came, that she would come to our home, rather than us have to take Fluffy to that 'scary place' that she didn't like. We would rather that she left this world from the comfort of her loving home, with all her normal things around her.

We all kissed and hugged her and gave our tear filled goodbyes and I asked Fluffy for forgiveness. She was anaesthetized (as it is done prior to any operation) - this we asked for - to save her from any further pain, then, when she was fully asleep, the vet euthanized her.

God, we were so upset... naturally we still are. Its taken me a few days to get my head straight enough to do this blog for her. We always will be sad and upset about her passing, as Fluffy was special. Our younger son especially has taken it very hard as Fluffy has been his best friend and confidante since he was five or six years old. They were like twin souls and he is naturally left bereft and empty. I feel so much for him. We are all feeling it, going through a gamut of emotions, the worst of all being guilt - but his pain is so sad and nothing can help it, for his Fluffy is gone and he misses her so much.

Many may not understand this kind of loss. I make no apology for it. For I, We, loved our dog - we adored her. She was more than a dog. She was our friend who was like a human, just wearing furry fluffy clothes. She was one of us, she was family. We are less of a family without her and the world is a worse place without her.

The last photo that I took of Fluffy was quite rightly, with her beloved best friend.

Fluffy was buried the following day at the local pet cemetery. Our son refused all offers of help and carried her across the deep snow and then laid her down into her final resting place, then covered her over with the prepared soil. We left special candles on her grave. So gut wrenchingly sad.

This is a compilation of Fluffy photographs....

Goodbye our darling girl. RIP forever baby. Sleep well, be whole again. Wait for us on the Rainbow Bridge.

(With thanks to Anita for this wonderful Rainbow Bridge link): It takes a while to load, but is certainly worth viewing.

This is how we would like to remember her. Beautiful, Elegant, Snowy, Fluffy.

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