Living and Dying

On December 3, we found out that my beloved Cocker Spaniel, Latte, has
kidney failure. There is no cure for it. By the time, it can be
diagnosed through bloodwork, the kidneys have failed 70%. We got that
diagnosis in September and we were treating it with diet, Chinese
herbs, and acupuncture. She was doing fine until December 3. I was at
sessin (zen meditation) when Kris found out. I left sesshin on the
morning of the fourth to accompany him to the vet to learn how to
administer fluids subcutaneously. That is with a needle under her skin.

That weekend, there was no improvement. She threw up continuously and
wandered around the house all night in obvious discomfort. On Monday we
went back to the vet. We were told that she should have showed marked
improvement if her kidneys were functioning at all. A dramatic change
in her personality should be expected within 24 to 48 hours. We didn't
want her discomfort to continue so we made the very difficult decision
to put her down on Tuesday evening. Our vet was willing to come to our
house to do it. I called another retired vet and she confirmed that
Latte should be put out of her misery and would be experiencing extreme
pain soon.

On Monday evening, we barbecued a leg of lamb. It was always one of her
favorite things. She's always had the voracious appetite that Cocker
Spaniels are known for. Kris often said that she would eat ketchup on
cardboard if we offered it to her. Kris brought the cooked fragrant
lamb into the kitchen to be rested and carved. To our surprise, that
little dog appeared in the kitchen nose pointed toward the roast. I cut
a piece into tiny little bits for her. She rested well that evening,
but did throw up. We knew she didn't get any nutrition from the little
she ate.

In the morning she rested peacefully and I knew that she was not ready
to die. Must have been that lamb…too much to live for. I called the
vet and cancelled the euthanasia appointment. I am so glad that I did
as we've enjoyed every extra moment with her. Business is usually slow
this time of year so we've been able to spend all of our time with her
and our other dogs. No running off to another island or traipsing
around the world.

Hydrating her with saline twice daily has become a ritual. It's
intimate and enjoyable. She eats very little – her latest favorite is
banana cream pie. We're watching her closely for signs of discomfort.
I'm hoping that she'll go peacefully in her sleep.

On December 21, my mom was admitted into the hospital. She had been in
a care home and began refusing food and water. Her condition improved
with hydration, but after testing, the doctor informed us that without
a feeding tube, she would be unable to obtain enough nutrition to
survive. My brother, sister and I talked to Mom and she was quite clear
about not wanting a feeding tube.

We decided to take her home with hospice care. The people we've talked
to with hospice are amazing – compassionate and caring. On Christmas
Eve, mom came home. She's been happy to be home. My brother, sister and
I have all been able to spend time with her and have important
conversations with her.

Kris and I spent Christmas day focusing on all the things we have to be
grateful for. We have the best and most caring friends in the world. I
haven't been able to talk to many of our friends because I didn't want
them to feel bad about our situation. We all have to deal with death at
some point and I feel sure that both Mom and Latte will be going on
their way in the most peaceful way…surrounded by their family. We're
happy for them.

Lighting incense, watching movies, drinking champagne…we're all living. Time passes quickly…enjoy life!!!

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