Monday, July 12, 2010

The Kindness Continues

On April 8th, I felt a lump in Shasta's abdomen while giving him a belly rub. I called our vet to have it checked. We never made it to our appointment. Early in the morning on April 10th, Shasta collapsed and nearly died from an internal bleed from a ruptured spleen. We rushed Shasta to an emergency vet hospital in Rhode Island, Ocean State Veterinary Specialists, where he underwent surgery to have his spleen removed. During the surgery multiple masses were found in each lobe of his liver, they tested positive for hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive cancer.

Shasta had always been a very healthy dog, people were amazed to learn he was 10 years old, he looked and acted more like 4 or 5. He was a physically fit, tone, handsome dog that loved to run. He was playful, energetic, and always happy in that puppy silly way. Other than a small amount of gray on his muzzle, he could easily be mistaken for a puppy (he was on his 8th birthday - the person we met that day at the beach thought he was 8 months old, not 8 years old).

Shasta never grew old.

Because he had been such a healthy dog he recovered quickly from his surgery. I remember the day he got his stitches out. I took him to see some of his old friends. He was so happy he bounded around like a puppy. Tucking his head, arching his back and jumping around with his bright eyes and beautiful happy face, running here and there so fast I couldn't keep up. He always loved to say hello to everyone, and I do mean everyone. I used to laugh and call him earth's official greeter, he believed it was his job to say "Hello! I'm so Happy to see you!" to everyone. He ran around in complete joy that day we went visiting, and before I could explain the cancer to anyone, Shasta was already receiving complements on how good he looked and how vibrant and healthy he was.

Shasta's cancer didn't make sense at all. As an estimate, I was told he had 1 week to 3 months left to live following his surgery. He was cared for here in Connecticut by our local vet during that time. I feel very blessed to have been able to find wonderful quality veterinary care for Shasta both here at home and during that horrible morning in April. The dedication and care received from the vets Shasta had gave him a little extra time to play on this earth, and that was a huge gift to him and to me.

Shasta enjoyed 5 weeks before a lump grew in his leg and started to give him pain. Once pain became a part of the equation, I knew it was time. I could see the joy in Shasta was gone; the future held only the promise of more pain and sorrow. I couldn't ask him to stay for me at such a huge cost to him. I called our local vet here in Connecticut and arranged for the final hour. On May 15th I held Shasta close to my heart and let him go. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

Losing such a close friend has been a huge heartache for me and I still have not been able to overcome the vastness of the emptiness I feel without my dear Shasta beside me. I have been touched by the kindness of several people, though. Even people that only knew Shasta for a short time fell in love with him. He was so easy to love.

I want to acknowledge and thank OSVS for the added gift of a contribution in Shasta's name made to a foundation in Rhode Island to help lower income pet owners obtain quality care for their animals. In all this heartache I feel, it is a wonderful thing to have the caring and generosity of others to help ease the pain. Thank you.

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