Thursday, August 14, 2008
Leo (4/24/07 - 8/15/07)
I'm taking a break for a day from my "This Used to Be My Beach" series to acknowledge a sad anniversary in our family: the day we lost Leo. What follow is a partial reprint from a post back before most of you were reading my blog. Today I'll kiss the little box that Leo's ashes rest in, water the peace lily my boss sent when Leo died, and read the cards from the vets one more time. He was an angel, truly, and we will always miss his sweet spirit. Peace - D
The little bulldog in the picture to the left isn't Bodhi; it's Leo (AKC Name: King Leonidas of Sparta). He was with us from Father's Day last year until August 15, 2007. In his short little life, he shone brightly and charmed everyone who met him, especially the doctors and veterinary technicians who helped to treat him.
We met him on my birthday last year when he was only 26 days old (which is the picture you see here). Lily was immediately enamored of him, as you can see in the picture. Leo became sick at 10 weeks old, two weeks after he came to live with us. He started exhibiting strange neurological behavior. A trip to the emergency vet confirmed our fears. Something was dreadfully wrong. They sent us to Leesburg at midnight to the specialty clinic. We had to leave our sweet little guy there for fluids and such. At three a.m., we got the call. His ammonia levels were 300, when they should have been less than 50. This meant that his liver was not filtering his blood. In my exhausted state, I somehow thought it was better than him needing to see the neurologist. But I didn't really comprehend the gravity of what the nurse was telling me. The doctor made it all clear the next morning.
The next day he was diagnosed with a liver shunt. his blood was bypassing his liver, so nothing was being filtered out. One treatment was euthanasia. We didn't want that. The other treatment was surgery to tie off the shunt. That was what we decided to do.
He perked up a little, and it seemed like he might be okay. But eventually his condition grew so much worse that we ended up at the specialty clinic again during the night. It was two weeks before we were to have his blood tested again to see if the surgery had worked. In our hearts, we were afraid it had not. The vet on graveyard shift was the same one who had seen him the first time. When she looked at the numbers and found out that he had already had the surgery, she got tears in her eyes. She told us that our options weren't good but that we needed to go back to Leesburg to TLC (the specialty clinic) and have him re-evaluated by the internal medicine specialist.
That day, just short of 16 weeks of age, he weighed less than 10 lbs. The specialist who had treated Leo all along did an ultrasound and told us the bad news. He shut the door, pulled up a chair and explained that Leo's body had now developed multiple shunts and that there was nothing more we could do. Leo was just getting sicker and was in pain. Food didn't nourish him. Pain medication would only make him worse. We just started crying. We knew.
We had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to him that day, 8/15/07, the first time we'd ever had to euthanize a dog. We were sobbing as we waited for him to be brought in to us, the little IV in his leg. He looked at us both with those warm brown eyes and then he settled into my arms and closed his eyes. The doctor administered the solution and I felt like the biggest traitor in the world. At the same time, how could I have let his suffering go on, just for my own purposes?
I will never forget the way he felt in my arms after the medicine stopped his heart and brain functions. He finally stopped having tremors, something that was a constant thing with him. (He even trembled in his sleep). I whispered in his ear how much I loved him and that I hoped he would forgive us for not being able to save him. I whispered to him to be at peace.
Less than two weeks later, the breeder arranged another pup for us - Bodhi. He was more for Lily than for us, because she quickly became depressed when Leo didn't come home. She would go looking in all the places he used to run. She even started looking in the neighbors' yards. It was terrible to watch her grow more frantic, looking for him.
At first, it was hard for me to accept another puppy. I kept waiting for him to get sick, too. I felt beaten down. Hubby was even worse. He is still very much affected by what happened. But Bodhi grew on us and quickly became a part of our family. He will never replace Leo, but he has helped heal our hearts.
If you want to see more about Leo (more photos, poems, etc.), please visit his memorial page here.
We still miss our little man Leo.