My little Odin. He thought he was as big as the mountain. He was fearless. Here is a picture of him April 18th, three days after his final and fatal Rabies vaccination. He was almost blind because the German in him would not stop trying to round up cats. They scratched him a few times and then he kept hitting his eyes chasing the ball or the toy of the day. I did not notice anything different until the Sunday we went to Cibolo Creek to walk and see the river. We never made it to the river though. We went to the Marsh but then Odin was panting and I felt he needed water so we headed back to the car. He was drooling, nothing unusual there, he drooled when he was hot but we had not gone that far and it was not that hot. I was concerned but he seemed alright. Then he did not eat and I noticed that evening and the next day that he was tired, when he had no reason to be. Tuesday morning, he did not stand at the shower throwing toys in while I got ready for work and I knew something was seriously wrong with him. I took him to work with me and called the vet. My vet could not see him and recommended I be seen at another walk in vet in town. He had gone from his crazy little self to a dog who could barely walk in a manner of days. I watched him get progressively worse while he was with me at the office. It took two days and two separate rounds of blood work but it was finally clear that he had Hemolytic anemia which “sometimes happens about a month after a rabies vaccination in about 1% of dogs.” My boy was struggling because I had been a good pet owner and kept vaccines up to date. I set him up on the futon and I slept by his side. He ate for me , I carried him outside to go to the bathroom because he could not walk anymore, I held water to his mouth for him to drink because he had trouble standing and I stayed with him hating to leave his side for more than a few minutes at a time. He was getting treatment but we were still hoping for the best and the vet did not expect him to make it though the first night after he saw him. By Saturday, when I was hoping for good news, his red blood cell count was so low he needed a transfusion. Without it he would die. I had to rush him to specialist in San Antonio so he could be taken for more tests and I could be presented with treatment options. They showed me the paper work and financial breakdown of the treatment with medications and shots and blood work on top of the transfusions lined out for the day and if the count did not go up they would give more transfusions until his count could stay up on it’s own. I thought of how much I hated needles and the fact that the Dr said the transfusion could cause cardiac arrest because his blood count was so low. After any or during any of the treatments to follow he could die. He would not be able to go home until his count was up and even if he pulled through he would always be high risk for relapse and would have to be on steroid treatment for a very long time. I thought, I can hold my boy and let him go without all this pain in his future. I chose to let him go. To let him free himself from the mortal coil that was looking to be a pretty sick and vet filled path. I held him in my arms , his heart beating next to mine…heart to heart.. and I looked in his beautiful brown eyes until all the life was gone from them and still I held him close to me. I told him, ” you come find me now O cause I don’t think I can do this anymore without you.” The vet finally came in, took him from me, took off his collar and handed it to me. I placed it on my arm where it stayed until I picked up his ashes that Thursday. After he was back home with me, I could stop wearing it and fold the futon back up into a couch and stop sleeping on it. I still sleep with his favorite blanket. I miss him so much that I can barely stand to be home most of the time.
His last Friday with me, I drove him to the animal shelter where his friend worked. This was a neighbor from our previous address that he had chosen to be his friend. He of course had friends that he knew because of me but this was his friend that he chose before either of us really knew her. He had good taste, I will give him that. Amelia is a dog person with a gentle spirit and he loved to see her on the street where we used to live. I went in and told Amelia why I was there and she came out to the car to say good bye to him. She knew before I did that he was going. I heard her softly telling him you have had a good life buddy. You have been loved. I knew he felt good seeing her and he was so surprised that it was her! He had not seen her in three years. He knew her though. He always knew his people. After that I opened the sun roof and we drove to Cibolo creek. I parked where I could see this beautiful blooming bush from the car and opened the doors so he could see and smell the river and the park around us. We sat and talked, resting in the afternoon sun before I felt he was tiring and wanted to be back in the cool dark house.
You left me on a Saturday. Sunday , Mother’s day, I went to church early. As the service went on I thought of how I always felt when I went to this church. Home at last…peace…comfort … and wanted as I have so many times in the past to do nothing more than curl up on the pew, right in the middle of the service, and just rest. Mother’s day and I felt like I had lost a child. After church, I changed quickly and took off for Tai Chi class. My Southern Baptist paternal Grandmother who raised me was honored as I stood in the 1st Methodist church with a white carnation in my hand. My biological Mother was honored while I went through my Tai Chi routine and set my intention to honor her on this day, in this way.
The rest of the day was spent at the river. I know it is good for me when I am emotional to be near the water. I was raised on the river and to the river I return whenever I get the chance. Odin loved the Guadalupe as much as I did. At this point on the trail, coming back from the “rapids”, we would always rest together. There is a little bench on the left that you can just see the top of through the brush. We would sit there together and watch people go by, just happy to be close to the river and out in the woods.