Annie is back from the brink of death.
Tuesday night, we were up all night with her as she threw up and became more weak by the hour. Since she had not been eating much, it was not a food upset tummy. It might have been the new medicines prescribed to her Monday when more fluid was drained from her abdomen. Throwing up is another symptom of heart failure.
By Wednesday noon, we had called the vet and arranged to come in to let him put her down. She was so weak she could not walk and she was shaking and she had "that look" I have seen in the eyes of my dogs that were about ready to take their last breaths.
The vet had an emergency, but he said he would be back at his clinic at 12:30 p.m., and if he were not there when we arrived, we should wait on him. He did not want her to suffer any more as we did not want her to suffer any more.
Driving the 30 minutes to the vet's office, Annie laid limp in my arms, her body supported by a huge green plaid pillow that allowed her to see outside. Usually she sits up on this pillow like the Sphinx and watches with great interest the world pass by the windshield.
Yesterday, she was stretched out, propped up by my arms, her head heavy on my forearm, looking out at the trees and traffic. Sunshine illuminated my baby's face, the first sunshine we had enjoyed in days. I could watch her face in the side mirror of the van.
For a while she watched the trees and vehicles, then her eyes closed and I felt her body become heavier and heavier. I watched her respirations that were growing more shallow by the mile. Her pulse was becoming weaker. I told Gordon that she might not make it to the doctor's office.
Once before, with Molly, the first Westie we adopted, we had rushed to the vet's office so that he could end her suffering, and Molly died quite similarly in my arms before we reached the vet's office.
We pulled up to the veterinary clinic and did not see the doctor's truck, but there were several staffers who had stayed to wait for us. Here is where a misunderstanding became a miracle.
A clinic worker came out and picked up Annie's limp body to carry it into the clinic. I was trying to speak through my tears that I wanted to hold Annie until the bitter end. I wanted to be there when that precious life left this earth.
The staff workers thought Annie was to stay the night so that they could watch her and make a determination the next morning. There was NO WAY I was going to leave my baby to spend a sterile night alone in a clinic without her loved ones nearby.
I asked for Annie back and said we would either come back later that day or the next morning. Annie's past included being "thrown away" in a primitive kill shelter by her owners when her older brother became sick and feeble. Nothing that even resembled that would happen to MY baby!
We got back in the van and waited for a while as we had understood the vet to ask us to do. Finally we turned the van toward home and suddenly realized that Annie was sitting like the Sphinx, watching the world pass the windshield. The limp, almost lifeless body had transformed in the span of 30 minutes!
Gordon and I believe in miracles, and I have prayed for miracles for other people. People I actually know have had cancer disappear or have recovered from near death, but it has never happened so close to home.
People on this Westie group have been praying for Annie. People through my blog have been praying for Annie. People on Facebook have been praying for Annie. Gordon and I have been praying for Annie.
There, right before our eyes, God was answering those prayers.
The clinic workers called to apologize for the misunderstanding. The doctor was back if we wanted to bring Annie back to the clinic (we had not reached home at that time). I shared the amazing news that the little dog who could not hold up her head and whose pulse and breath were fading when we arrived at the clinic, was now sitting up as happy as she ever was during a little trip to town. The vet said he was available to help any time, day or night, if we needed his help in easing her suffering.
We arrived home. She did her bathroom thing. She walked down the long walk and the long hall. She drank water. She was hungry late last night. She was alert throughout the evening. She slept. Last night she got up to go do #2 outside several times.
This morning she TROTTED to go outside first thing. She took her medicine with ease. She was HUNGRY. She has been very alert so far today. She has held her tail vertical, rather than drooped. She has even barked a few times at her fellow puppers.
We consider this a miracle, and an answer to prayer. I am thankful for the hours we had to spend with her yesterday afternoon and last night. This morning and this afternoon (as I write this), I am thankful for the hours we have had to spend with her today.
As I write this, I am looking at her sleeping face and her eyelashes twitching with some dream. I see my knitted shawl rise and fall strongly from her breathing. (Yes, I have been loosely wrapping around her the shawl that I knitted years ago that is saturated with my smell.)
When she is awake, her ears tilt forward to greet my hand as I briefly pet her. All I feel is overwhelming thankfulness that this precious little bundle of fur is still with us right now.
Her abdomen is still seeping fluid from the injection points where fluid was drained on Monday. Her abdomen also appears to be filling back up with fluid, but perhaps, maybe, hopefully a bit more slowly than it filled last week.
We don't know what tonight holds, or tomorrow, or the next day. I do NOT want my baby to suffer. It is obvious that she wants to live right now.
This is completely uncharted territory for us. Do you have any experience that is even similar?
Please feel free to share this story with your other dog-loving friends. These photos were, we thought, the last photos we would ever have of Annie. I cannot wait to take new photos of her, possibly tomorrow, if she feels like getting out to walk among the daffodils in the sunshine.
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Penny in MississippiA