I think the last time Mac seemed normal was at 6 Tuesday, when he slept on my chest. Gradually over the evening he lost mental acuity. By 1 am I had entirely given up and commenced crying, and we said out goodbyes. It was sweet that he fell asleep for fifteen minutes with his face on my foot, my favorite position.
I really thought we'd go to the vet in the morning. We knew he couldn't spend any of the night unattended. Sleeping on the floor with him would only work if he'd slept. The way he was bumping into walls like a Roomba meant I had to walk with him. I kept squirting water in his mouth to keep him hydrated.
If he'd stayed confused and whiny, that would have worked. At three he started to cry and get stuck in corners. I found that if I pressed my nose against his and we breathed in sync, that seemed to calm him. At four I woke Gary up so he could spell me. He had woken up a few times at night to give useless suggestions.
I think he tended to the dog for fifteen minutes before he announced we were going to the emergency vet. The slide that had seemed gradual to me must have been a dramatic change to someone who'd slept through the three hour decline.
I don't think I'm giving away any spoilers by saying that on a tv show I watch, a major character just died after a speedy decline. (Shhh - don't tell.) The other characters in the show were unprepared, plus there was a difference in diagnosis in the medical community on the show. (No one knows what show I'm talking about? Good.) I couldn't help thinking, "Augh! It's just like [this tv show]."
We might have had a difference in diagnosis if we'd seen our regular vet. The 24 hour ER vet was a tall woman with curly hair and scratches on her collarbone. She said, "If his kidneys are failing, that can cause heightened blood pressure, and at times that can lead to a detached retina." It was a very capable diagnosis.
After she ran tests she sat us down and said, "His kidney numbers are fine." (Hurrah Gary! He's really tried to lay off the treats.) "He's a little dehydrated." (Go me! Only a little dehydrated.) "However, his liver numbers are high and he has an excessive amount of calcium in his blood, and in a dog that's an indicator of cancer. With his symptoms it seems that he has brain cancer."
Whaaaa - huh? I said, "But how would he get brain cancer overnight?"
"Well, you described weakness in his legs that began a year ago." And of course, I had. I was just so used to carrying the dog around everywhere I'd forgotten it was because his legs were wobbly. And there was a year of puking, and limping, and trembling. Everything I thought was age could be neurological. And frankly, is anyone going to notice neurological issues in our epileptic / MS family? Dog can't walk a straight line? Join the club. Convulsions in our family would be completely ignored. (Another tv show callout.)
We'd already resigned ourselves to putting him to sleep because he was so miserable. The kidney / cancer switcheroo was immaterial. I did kind of want our vet to do the deed, but Gary thought we should have this doctor take care of it. (Again, a couple siding with doctors, just like the show.)
Even sedated Mac was miserable. The doctor pushed the plunger and I waited for his eyes to glaze over, but instead they rolled downward. She left us alone to say our goodbyes now that he was gone.
While we were petting him his mouth opened and he made a clicking sound.
"Involuntary muscle spasms," I thought. "And that's the same clicking sound Mom made while she was dying."
He did it again. Then his stomach gurgled.
Gary said, "I think I can feel a pulse." I couldn't feel it, but he was still warm.
Eventually the pulse faded away, or Gary said it did.
We told the receptionist we were having him cremated, and then Gary added:
"We don't need an urn; we'll just put him in with the other dogs." He explained to the receptionist, "We have a little coffin on our mantle where we keep all the dog's ashes."
(No, we don't have a little coffin on our mantle.) "Casket," I assured her. "Like a medieval-type casket."
We decided to take the day off and alternately sleep and cry. Gary asked me to not pick up the dog food or dishes, so I won't. I promised him I would start peeing in the hallway so he could still step barefoot in cold pee. We promised to start cuddling and kissing each other more. ("[He'd] want us to love each other as much as we can now."- TV show.)
So, sad times here, tempered with a newfound ability to sleep uninterrupted and eat unaccompained by demanding barks. Still, we miss our dog.