Friday, 22 March 2013

Bye Bye Dufus

On March 16th 2013, for the first time in the 7 years that I had known him, my Banfarali let me groom his entire left side in one sitting. I was surprised. Then I found a teeny clump of hair that seemed to give him some trouble. Moving it a bit, exposed a scab. I thought it was a mostly minor bed sore like the one in October 2012. I snipped away the hair and cleaned it careful, he cried in some pain. I sprinkled some turmeric just in case it had been infected and thought nothing more of it. The next day when feeding him, my husband discovered a large patch of blood on his dhoti. We weren't sure which of the three critters was bleeding. Preliminary investigation yielded nothing on the other three. And then we flipped him over. The small scab was now a large patch, bleeding profusely. We realized that it was much bigger than we could handle on our own.

The vet took us in at short notice on that Sunday, just before they closed. She took one look at him lying on his side, unable to get up from exhaustion and told us that it was time to let him go. She was very compassionate and yet tears coursed down my eyes, unstoppable. All sense of self restraint went straight out the window. I said, "But he still knows who he is". At least that is what I wanted to say. I could not get past "he". She tried to assure us that having seen him so many times, she was very convinced that it was time for him to go and that it was not fair to keep him, just for our sake. She said, "I came in expecting to have to restrain him (to clean the wounds). In all these years, I have never seen him laying like this".

He was too weak to get away from us, as the two technicians and I cleaned and shaved around his wound, with me mostly trying to hug him and reassure him that this will all be done soon. I think I said "It will get better". Empty promise. The vet told us that the infection was pretty deep. But because Dufus was such a stoic, he never ever let on. Just how much of a stoic he had been would be revealed in the next few days as the wound cried his pain.

The vet hinted that she would be willing even to put him down right away, if we wanted. My husband would have none of it. Our Slender Loris was a people's dog. The only thing he ever wanted without fail was his people by his side. Twenty four-seven, if possible. Each time either of us traveled, he would stop eating in protest. Each time the family left after a visit, he would grow restless for a few days. He realized very soon that suitcases meant travel. He started to throw anticipatory tantrums when he saw a suitcase coming out of the hated basement. We took to packing when he was not in the home, sometimes even giving him a special walk in the park so that most of the packing could be done when he was away. This was not a dog we could simply say bye to at the drop of a hat. We needed to spend some quality time with him and if possible have him spend some quality time with everyone else that he loved and that loved him right back!

Euthanasia is a small word that packs a big punch. Straight to your solar plexus. We were already warned of his deteriorating health earlier in 2012. He was losing weight at an alarming rate and all the tests revealed that his organs were strong and there was no cancer. He did have Alzheimer's, they said, but no cancer. No one knew how quickly or what trajectory that illness would take. Turns out it proceeded too quickly for us. His hind legs lost their muscle mass almost completely. Very soon his abdominal muscles weakened as well. Just as everything else in his life, his departure was also progressing at great speed.

The dog that was used to flying at us at Mach speeds (see more about this here) to greet us everyday, could not hear us returning from work. This was the only good thing, because that meant he feared the thunderstorms a little less. We had a more peaceful summer since he was mostly unaware of the raging storms outside. This peace was short lived because his arthritis and neurological decline kept pace with his declining hearing. He had a hard time squatting to poop and it would take really long walks before he could relieve himself.  Finally it had got to the point where we had taken for granted that he would only poop in his sleep, because he was finally relaxed enough to stop holding it back. This earned him yet another moniker: Poop Aandavar (Lord of the Poop).  We made jokes, we did more laundry than ever before, but underneath it all was the half acknowledged truth that the end was nigh.

March 17th was when we met the vet. After his first dose of antibiotics, we realized the extent of infection on his hip and the extent of his stoicism. The dog must have been in excruciating pain. And he never let on. Until, he simply could not hide it any more! For how long, exactly? We will never know. We let the rest of the family know. Everyone went through the phase of denial. No one wanted to believe that the dog who climbed the Franconia Notch trails like a sherpa in 2011 was done with his life. Dufus himself wasn't willing to believe that his physical body was not as strong as his spirit was.

Despite all the pain, he would insist on getting up and walking although he could not get up on his own any more. We had to help him up each time and he would wobble until he almost fell, at which point we would lower him down gently so that he wouldn't hurt himself crash landing! He would rest a little and try again. He could not stand long enough in front of his bowl to drink his water. Someone had to hold his hind quarters up while he tried hard to drink. His Alzheimer's made him too uncoordinated to drink from his bowl. Most of the time his tongue was licking air. We resorted to giving him his water through a bottle. The same bottle that had accompanied us on many a happy hikes and trips. He drank out of it just the same way he did on those hikes which made other dog owners stop in their tracks and exclaim, "Wow! Wish my dog would drink like that!"

My sister commuted from my place to work every day during his last week. Both my husband and I took time off work so one of us could be with him 24/7. Just the way he would have liked! My sister's husband and the other sister came in to spend sometime with him. He will get a real family send off that befits his huge heart. This Saturday I will say my byes to my puppy.

Sorry that I could not stop the thunderstorms or the fireworks. Sorry I could not make you understand that no matter where I go, I will always come back to you. Sorry your body broke down much much before your spirit was ready for it. But if there is such a thing as another chance at this thing called life, I wish you a strong body to match your spirit. So leave your broken body to the Fire and Earth, may the showers grow flowers were you trod; let your spirit fly strong into the wind and occupy all of the universe.

Bye my precious!

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Shalet Jimmy said...


Agnija Bharathi said...

Thanks Shalet Jimmy. The procedure was very quick. At least now he will be pain free and not have to fear anything any more!