From my © journal:  

Thursday,  November 2,  2000.  
Another fur-child joined us today.    Brandi named her  after a  favorite educational software program she loved,  ~Amy~ 
We got a phone call from the SPCA this morning. 
We have been on their list to get a female, beige Chihuahua (or we would consider any color as long as it was female). 

 They said they had one!  We grabbed our ChiCho-Chihuahua and took off for the shelter to see if the two of them would suit each other.   Welllllll..... most Chihuahuas weigh from 5 to 9 or 10 pounds.  What greeted us with overwhelming exuberance (as if she knew exactly who we were (her new family) and she was full of joy and enthusiasm!) - ready and eager<!> to go "home" with her new family.   

This fur-orphan has no Chihuahua in her at all.   Right sex and right color (buff)- but she's a 17 pound ~Heintz~ beyond doubt.   There is a mixture, for sure - but doubtful if ANY Chihuahua...  

But - how could we turn away from her?   She was so sweet and gentle. VERY healthy and pearl white teeth - even  neutered already and has all medical up to date .... and so, we finally have a pair of dogs.    ChiCho is NOT at all interested and feels a bit miffed at me (and snarls at her), but this too will pass and I see a long and happy relationship down the road for them! *g*   

She is playful and loving... ultra intelligent too!   Her name is Lady though, and I hope to change that if she doesn't have a problem with the change.  , for we have had one "Lady" fur-child years ago,  and I would prefer that each fur-child have its' own name in our family!    ~*s*~   Brandi wants us to call her Amy so AMY it is!

The following are communications between a friend, Dorothy, (Mom) and I.  We have developed what we affectionately call our Soulmate-Mother-Daughter relationship..   As the tragic circumstances unfolded we shared about it in e-mail and I think it is a nice variation on "From My Journal"  I excerpt the e-mail conversation and have used the references/communications regarding Amys' circumstances to share.

Tuesday, 3/11/2003 3:39 PM
Dear Dorothy; Yesterday we took Amy,  the white dog,  to the vet because her lymph-glands in her neck were sizably enlarged.   Amy is about 5 years old,  they said she was two when we adopted her 

 He did biopsies,  but pretty much told us that he was sure she has Lymphatic sarcoma and that it is throughout her whole system and also,  the spleen is greatly enlarged to the size of a baseball.   For a 13-pound dog,  this is quite large.  He said that there is nothing to be done - that there is chemotherapy but that he wouldn't recommend it because this is such a virulent type and has already spread....   He says that it could be a month but could also be only a week left-we are overwhelmed at the suddenness and finality of the shocking news.   I will write more of it later - just wanted to let you know.   We are awaiting the exact confirmation this afternoon.....   I will update you....

Most  who know me are aware that my 18-year old "Buffy" died exactly one year to the day after Erics' death....   This is the "countdown-time" of every year for me....   I tend to be very melancholy and try very hard to just go with the feelings and let April come and go.  This is just a terrible situation to face at any time... but it came to us at THIS vulnerable time for me and I'm ~down~...

Tuesday 3/11/2003 9:15 PM
My dear friend,  How I mourn with you.  There is nothing worse than losing one's animal friend and loyal companion.  However, sometimes the kindest act we can
perform for them is to "let them go."  I sometimes think we're kinder to our pets than we are to ourselves.  We don't allow our pets to suffer, but human-beings must suffer until death takes them - even though they sometimes beg to die.  I have a problem with this really.   Please let me know about Amy.    ~     Love,  Dorothy

Wednesday 3/12/2003 2:36 PM
Dear Nina;  Thank you for the up-date on Amy.  What a lucky dog to have a mistress like you!!  Over my lifetime - as you might suspect - I've had many dogs who were precious to me beyond belief.  Frankly, I believe we humans could learn a great deal from our dogs.  I wrote an article about this one time which was published and the Harrisonburg SPCA sent me a special "thank you."     <excerpt> 

Anyway - this up-date sounds like good news (no "C") - although I have no idea what the consequences might be.  No - I agree with you - I would surely not want Amy to become a "guinea pig" (no pun intended) for any lab experiments. She needs to be in her home with you where she is loved and cared for ----- and any follow-up antibiotics and/or medicines approved by you.  <excerpt>
Keep me up-dated, dear friend.....         Love,  Dorothy

Friday 3/14/2003 2:41 PM
Newest Amy update
Dear Dorothy,  <excerpt>
Sorry that I didn't respond right away.   This thing with our Amy is so overwhelming.    I've been researching intensely since our veterinarian has never seen or dealt with this condition in a dog.   In fact,  when I
did the searching with Google,  on the mycobacteriosis,  I went further and entered "Canine mycobacteriosis" to search within the search just to cover those specific references before I continued on my quest as a whole...  and there was only this one report, here, and it was also there,  on page #4 of that report,  that I found the reports of 18 other dogs who had been reported to have mycobacteriosis.  In all of the case histories of the 19 dogs reported to have mycobacteriosis - 18 were euthanized.   This doesn't look good for Amy!  However, she doesn't really have the same conditions which those cases manifested.  I'm also seeing a lot of medical opinion that this isn't as new as it seems,  but is simply a terribly underdiagnosed condition which gives the appearance of other conditions... and since there is no "cure" or satisfactory treatment,  they aren't well-motivated to do the testing.    I'm coming to agree with that explanation as I read on and on and on through the materials... To date,  absolutely no medication or action has been taken by Dr Tom Truban.   Since this is primarily a fish and bird disease and associated with Marine and Avian tuberculosis... they are now awaiting TB being ruled out.  He says that we will "Go from there" once that is ruled out.   He also said,  when he called last night,  ""I guess I was prematurely pleased when we found out Amy didn't have Cancer - it might very well be that it would have been a better diagnosis than this one!" 

As I reported before now,  I am giving her an herbal formulation which I put together myself and she is still looking and behaving so healthily.   She is active, eats well,  runs and plays outside,  shadows me everywhere I go (as usual),  and in general - doesn't seem at all sick!   The enlarged lymphatic nodes are still not normal - but have gone down incredibly!   For two days she hasn't had any vomiting either (this was going on for weeks before now).     I'd better get back to my researching.   Hope you are all well there. *S*   Love, Nina

Friday 3/14/2003 3:47 PM
Re: Newest Amy update
Dear friend, I read and re-read your email.  You know - perhaps Amy's prognosis isn't all that bad.  My thinking goes along these lines;  humans (and animals too) are totally different from each other - genetically,  environmentally, etc. Diseases affect each of us differently depending upon many variables.  Perhaps Amy - with all the love surrounding her - will improve and be healthy once again.  Who knows - really? <excerpt>
Give Amy a scratch behind the ears and a tummy rub from me.  
Love,  Dorothy

Saturday 3/15/2003 10:11 PM
Re:  Update  
Hello dear friend,   How is everything going with Amy? You've been on my mind - and I know what you are going through.   Love,  Dorothy

Monday 3/17/2003 9:58 AM
subject: Monday   ~ Dear Dorothy, Thank you for calling!   It was nice to hear your voice again. *S*   No news yet about the last tests - I think it won't be until tomorrow.   Meanwhile,  the nodes swelled once again when 
the biopsies were done Saturday.   They were still large on Sunday (relatively speaking),  but this morning,  seem even smaller than before Saturday.    She still looks extremely healthy,  active, happy... etc.    She eats well,  drinks well and shows her usual enthusiasm when we go out to the spa each evening.   Both love to go there,  for I keep their special dog
bones (Kirkland-brand - Lamb and rice) out there in a tin and they get one each time I'm having my ~therapy~.... *S*    <excerpt>     I hope that Spring will infect you with it's freshness of spirit and beauty and you will be lifted up in comfort and hope and reminded of His promise to use ALL things for good - regardless of how impossible or improbable it may seem in the present....   Much to do - must go.   Just wanted to send along a ~Hello and hugs...   Yours because I'm His,   Love, hugs and prayer,  from your gypsy,  (Nina)

Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2003 9:05 PM  
Subject: Re: Important Information  
Dear Nina, I found it !! A fabulous animal hospital in Boston. Information follows: MSPCA Angell Memorial Animal Hospital  
350 South Huntington Avenue  
Boston, MA 02130 
Phone: 617-522-7282
URL: http://www.angell.org  
Glad to hear Amy is her normal vivacious self.  This certainly bodes well for her future.    Love, Dorothy
P.S.   I am so grateful for your words of inspiration -  I need them, believe me !!  You are my "angel."

Monday 3/17/2003 6:00 PM
The forwarded e-mail arrived - thank you!  I finished ALL of the internet resource-links! I thought it would take a week yet - but as it turned out - many of the 2,310 were repeats or simply different sections of the reports I'd already read! So I finished ALL today. I find it rather depressing to learn so much and see that there is so much ignorance in the actual practice of treating animals (the veterinarians). They should be even more invested than I in keeping up to date on this growing problem which is going grossly undetected and mostly misdiagnosed as other conditions and therefore, untreated as well.... leaving the clients to mourn the mistakes and ignorance in the doctors they trust and pay very well! That will be a later task to take on - confronting that when this crisis is over with Amy.   Well - need to go help Miss Brandi with her math this evening. Love to you, and George and all of your fur-children! *S* Hello from all of us here..... Yours because I'm His, Love, hugs and prayer always,  Your Gypsy, (Nina)

Monday 3/24/2003 10:23 PM
Re:  Update
Dear friend,   This is just to keep in touch - and also to say that I hope Amy is progressing well. She certainly is getting good help from everyone - and she's a fortunate pet. Write when you can.       Love,   Dorothy

Tuesday 3/25/2003 7:10 AM
Tuesday,  surgery day  
Good morning, Dorothy,    Thank you for your support and love. I appreciate it so much.   Today is Amys' surgery. I wish that I could feel good about it, but actually,   I feel terrible bad about her having to be discomforted by it and also, the potential for harm of removing the lymph-node itself.   If she doesn't have much time left, I hate to discomfort her in any way for even a moment! This morning she couldn't even have a drink or food which she is accustomed to!  
The thing that is so difficult about it is that there is no way we can explain any of it to them. She has been several times to the water-bowl-spot in the kitchen, finding it absent - she looks at me and waits..... It breaks my heart!   I can't tell her why we are taking her and leaving her at the vets'.... perhaps she will think she has been abandoned.... She is extremely attached to me and I won't be there! I am so sad......  

Tuesday 3/25/2003 9:46 PM
Re: Tuesday,  surgery day
Good evening, Nina, You certainly have my support and love. Yes - it's so difficult not to be able to communicate with our pets.  I do, however, believe that they understand more than we give them credit for. Did you explain to Amy about the surgery, etc.? I talk to my dogs - even though I'm sure sometimes they probably don't understand at all - but I do it anyway just in case!! After all, they've been listening to George and me talk to each other - and to them - all their lives.   I do think they pick up on things - even though it's obvious that their powers of concentration are poor.   Do let me know how Amy does.    Love,   Dorothy  

Thursday 4/3/2003 7:32 AM
My dear Dorothy,  <excerpt>  
We finally perceive some rays of hope that Amy might just be improving!  It will take quite a long time for the organs to return to normal (if they ever do that), but meanwhile,   the worst of it seems to be over (except when she is in pain).  The new pain medication seems to be allowing her a more normal life and that means for the rest of us too!  *s*  Miss you!

Friday 4/4/2003 10:41 PM
Dear friend,  How I enjoy your e-mails.  They are so sensitive and so emotionally supportive.  I need that !!   Thank you for the darling card.  I loved it !  <excerpt> By the way, do you drive?  I was wondering if we could meet for lunch at the Spring House sometime this spring.  If you don't drive - perhaps I could pick you up.  How about it?   Love to my precious dear friend.     ~     Dorothy

Monday 4/7/2003 6:50 PM
Hello dear friend
Dear Dorothy, Things are so difficult with Amy and Amys’ condition which is pitiful.   She had surgery two weeks ago to remove a lymph node for the lab to study and also to culture the ~Myco to see which strain she has.   She went through that well.    Her coat,   skin, eyes and even teeth - all are so healthy looking - yet she loses weight each day and is eating less and less.    One thing I learned out of it all is that I should trust my instincts more than I do at times.    Here she is slipping away from us slowly and we are helpless to do more than what we are doing.   She seems comfortable laying down - but can no longer walk on the leg where the node was removed from her shoulder.   We don't know why.    This began three days ago. Tom says she may have a pinched nerve "or something"....   It is obvious that he is just guessing all along the way.   He also doesn't believe that animals suffer much pain and I can tell you - he is wrong there.    I have always known when an animal is in pain and there are clinical signs of it recognized by all except, perhaps,  Tom (and his dad too).      We are taking her to Seven Bends, another veterinarian practice which has two vets (and higher fees) - today or tomorrow (depends on when we get an appointment).     I don't believe that I could even trust Tom to euthanize her at this point...     He utterly lacks the compassion and dedication which fur-children need...  and should probably stick with only large-animal care!  You don't really know these things until a situation arises that exposes the reality underneath the surface.    If it has (or does) come to that point,  - (or, ~when) - we will have it done at Seven Bends.    They were my former vets - but after I became disabled,  I couldn't afford to pay their prices!    Now I feel that I can't emotionally afford to continue with the other vet-practice....   The three of us decided to pull in our ~wants~ which are not truly needs,  and see this through with our priority of choice which at this time,  is Amys' quality of life and care.
I don't spend much time at the computer right now - just too much to do and also,   Amy needs a lot of "mommys'" attention - just never gets enough.   It's odd,  but she nudges and prods me just to have my hand on top of her head a lot!  It seems to comfort her a lot and she relaxes and feels less pain or stress.  <excerpt>
Re: lunch.  I would like to do that when Amy improves!   *RVBS!*      
Currently,  she is so needy that I don't leave her for any longer than absolutely necessary.   You would be more than welcome to come visit us!  *S*    How about that?    Let me know!  More later.  Have to get to the spa and then Miss Brandi will be ready for our special time together.   Say hello from me to George and your fur-children too!   Yours because I'm His, 
 with love, hug

Monsay 4/7/2003 9:59 PM
Re: Hello dear friend
Dear friend,  I'm so sorry you're having to go through this torture with Amy.  Dogs have very primitive instincts and if she is eating less and less - she knows when it's time to go to doggie heaven.  When George and I moved here 12 years ago - we brought with us two Pomeranians and a white Persian cat - all of whom we adored.  They are all gone now.  The latest casualty was "Dutch" - one of our Pomeranians.  He was 15 years old, but seemed to be in excellent health.  One day - when some men were digging up the road nearby to fix a watermain - he fell in to the muddy water.  Our next door neighbor brought him home - one wet, muddy, miserable little dog.  I cleaned him up, dried him off and then he asked to go out the back door.  He walked sedately down the path to our neighbor's - and never came back !!   I looked and called for him everywhere - but he was gone, gone, gone.  We never found even his collar.  And - actually - we had something similar happen to a beautiful collie we had for a few years.  He ate less and less each day and - finally - one morning he was gone.  I know how hard it is !! 
Someday - perhaps when Amy is well again - we can get together for lunch.  We'll wait until then.  It sounds as though you are making the right decision to take Amy to another vet.  Can you take her medical records with you?  I believe medical records belong to the owner of the animal.  (I know our medical records belong to us and we can take them - when necessary.)  Keep the faith, dear friend, and if there is anything.......anything.... I can do to help out, let me know right away.  ~   Love,  Dorothy

Sunday 4/13/2003 10:34 PM
Re:  Amy 
Hello dear friend,   Amy's progress has been on my mind - as I tend to my own dogs. Hope she is without pain and doing well. When you have a minute, bring me up-to-date on her condition. I know all too well what you are going through.   
Love as always,  Dorothy

Tuesday 4/15/2003 8:30 PM
Amys' last days....  (sent file "AMY")
My dear Dorothy,  Please forgive my inability to be in communication.   These last days have been so intensely depleting both physically and every other way....     I will write soon.   Meanwhile,  I am sending a few excerpts  from my journal here.... Yours because I'm His,
 with love, hugs and prayer from your gypsy,  (Nina)

Friday,  April 11,  2003   ~©~   Dear Me,
Amy is so much worse - I just don't want to talk about it or anything else.   I'm hoping I can return here later - but right now,  I've just called Seven Bends (switched to Dr Hoffman,  ~Shelly) and made appointment to take Amy in to end this terrible nightmare of starvation...  I feel sick to my stomach - we've tried so very hard - I've devoted most of my days and nights to nursing and loving her - hoping for some miracle....   Sometimes I just believe that love actually can overcome all - but there are terrible things in our mutated and deteriorating world - and these things are simply the ~what-is~ of Satans' power to hurt , torment and even to kill....  his time is short and he's making the most of it.    I have many thoughts and feelings to write - but am too weak and wiped-out to do it....  maybe later........
 

Saturday, April 12, 2003  ~©~   Dear Me,
A day of cleaning and nursing....    Much computer work as well - along with the frustrations which accompany the waging of war in good against evil (working on Abortion pages)...   I was doing it for two reasons - #1 because I'm far behind in keeping it up and #2,  it distracts me from the pain of the experience and pain of Amys' soon demise and her present suffering as she withers away right before our eyes and in spite of all I do....    I think that she knows too - for she is ever wanting me to touch her and to talk to her and in general,  to be the center of my attention -  which she deserves and I am more than willing to give...
 

Sunday, April 13, 2003  ~©~   Dear Me,  
We are keeping a vigil here tonight,  Amy is lying between our desks and Brandi and I are within sight if she opens her eyes.  I believe that her heart is giving out- it seems that way to me.  What matters how?  she is leaving us.  When a beloved one falls so ill as this terrible thing which Amy has....   we are fully aware of the reality that death is not always an enemy....  (perhaps it is not ever....  for if what we believe of Spiritual things - isn't it a graduation day?    A passage from this journey in a strange land,  heading for home - and death is the entering into the lasting peace and freedom from all woe?)
           We have thought, several times - that her last breath was near - but then she arises and wobbles her weak, but determined way to follow me or to go for food or drink.     It had been a struggle tonight for her to try and eat - and that left her with only about half of the Feldene dose...  I could see that pain was trying to come - but then she slept a while (more like a coma),  and then awoke hungry and finished the rest of both the pureed meat which contained the Feldene.  Also,  her favorite big dog-bone (from Costco,  lamb and rice) and the rest of her dinner (leftover roast-beef,  beets and carrots which I cooked for her).   The roast beef was a good one and I chop the slices into tiny little pieces and she loves it.   She proceeded to eat all three unfinished items!   Now is laying at one of her favorite places at the end of the hall,   next to the bookcase in the dining-room here.   I think her kidneys are shutting down,  for she goes out and she squats (this is a very awkward and uncomfortable position for her to reach  now - for her legs have little muscle-tone and her abdomen is so large that it touches the ground).
Brandi and I seem to take turns crying and then getting back to the resolved place where we know that death is welcome at this point.   Who knows what could happen yet as the organs keep swelling up where the Mycobacterium are thriving and she is wasting away like a shell around them...  Something could rupture and there could be pain... perhaps severe and agonizing and with all my heart - I do not want that!
 

Monday,  April  14, 2003  ~©~   Dear Me,
Difficult to write about these last days with Amy.   Today she was eating so well - no vomiting either,  just eating small amounts and enjoying her `little meals' and our time and togetherness....  not knowing that tomorrow she is leaving us.    When she tries to "toilet",   she trembles with the effort and discomfort of squatting and her swollen little belly touches the ground so that she has to have her hips so far apart that she nearly falls over sideways.    Although her bowels do move,  it takes time and I see the great effort it takes and I grieve and feel such self-recrimination for waiting....  and yet - there have been some good experiences in the extra-time-together while we knew it was short.....
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2003   ~©~   Dear Me,
After Brandi left for school,  I made Amy a nice breakfast and she ate about a third of the small portion and rushed outside to vomit it up.   She was so hungry that she wanted to eat it again.    We came in but she turned around and went back out to do more.   Her poor body so bloated with huge organs inside her and bones showing through everywhere,  was violently wracked in the challenging effort to vomit  each time.   Over the next few hours we went through this again and again - even drinking water caused it too.    She was so hungry that she wanted to eat anyway - but just a few bits of food would cause it again.     I believe her kidneys had shut down - for she was having trouble urinating yesterday too - going out and squatting but nothing happening.     Today she never did urinate at all - so I feel pretty certain that her body was shutting down - choosing it's own time to end this long journey through pain.... Her breath turned bad... so I brushed her teeth for her - but it didn't change the odor  which was obviously coming from some intestinal location which was stagnant or perhaps even,  something had ruptured....  I just don't know.
 Just cannot allow myself to be overwhelmed in this day.   I need to focus on the very real and wonderful fact that we have the ability to exercise mercy in a safe and gentle passage-way through veterinarians skilled in the service of performing euthanasia.  I remember when it was done with a gun and other brutal and sometimes traumatic ways that ended a life at a greater cost to ones such as myself....  a cost which I could not pay (using gun or knife or whatever)...   I would be able to administer medication such as Demerol - knowing of my own experience how it allows you to slip away into that peaceful realm - and in the case of an overdose - one would simply not return.  There could,  however,  be unexpected complications which could make the ending traumatic also in various ways.  I dare not to risk that for her. We have the option,  today,  in the sure and safe service of professionals who insure that the  mercy is mercifully administered. 

~later  
Our appointment was at 8:00 p.m.   I'd bought a roast and was fixing a special dinner for us to share with Amy.   She's been getting chuck-roast I'd made for days now,  several times per day - (with her favorite bones in-between the meals) I chopped it fine,  added the gravy from the roast and gave her the steamed fresh broccoli she so loves - at evening time for her Feldene dose.   I just thought that the wonderful aroma would be a good thing as well - for Amy has a nose even sharper than mine!    I love to smell a roast in the oven!    But it wasn't to be that way....    She awoke early with Brandi and vomited twice before she could get out the front door.   While the energy-efficiency man was here to estimate what we needed,   Amy was with me (as A-L-W-A-Y-S-!) and walked around outside enjoying the morning and the sights,  sounds and smells of this beautiful and lush Spring,  (though she was a bit wobbly with her legs and muscles withering from lack of absorbing and/or breaking-down the proteins (and other nutrients)  in her foods.   However,  she was so hungry!  I fixed her a nice meal and she began to eat...  then looked so uncomfortable and went to the door - so I let her out and the nightmare began to intensify and she retched and retched almost falling down with each spasm and when the little amount came out - she looked as though she was going to turn herself inside-out from doing it!   

I called to see if we could be taken in before this evening 
and they offered 6:30 - but that wasn't enough to change the suffering we were going through.   Another hour after that I called to see if Bruce Costin was in this morning - willing that he should do it instead of Shelly Hoffman ... anything to stop this nightmare for Amy (and for me too).   I was so distraught and crying that they said to come right in.   I called Peter Muhlenburg Middle School and asked if they would please get Brandi for us and meet us in the office.  By this time,  Amy was panting and in greater discomfort.   I was glad that this was a summer-like day and I was able to roll the window down and she could smell and hear all the wonderfulness of Spring as we drove in....  I had her in her white crib-blanket that she'd claimed long ago as her own....  holding her on my lap.   
 I could not say one word to Brandi as she got in the car....  I could not even look in her eyes,  for mine were overflowing with the tears and even sobs wracked my body convulsively and I was trying to stop!   I didn't want Amy to feel my pain and be effected by it.    My throat was too constricted to speak anyway as the tears and agony were overwhelming me regardless of how I tried to stop.     We,  (Brandi and I) had discussed whether she wanted to be present if the situation necessitated this quick change in plans - I believe we both felt pretty sure this morning that it was going to be this way....   I could only reach back to her and we held hands tightly...  Then Amy nudged my one hand wanting both of them to be on her....  She has such an endearing way of wanting to be resting her jaw on one hand and have my other one on top of her head stroking her gently,  or even just laying there on top - and she felt great peace and would relax and doze off.....  So today was no exception and I felt my heart would break in her wanting and my complying with her request...  I guess they called Shelly who was willing to come in early - for she arrived just after we did.     The tech was going to start the I.V. in another room and bring her back to where we were with Amy - but I objected - telling her that Amys' separation anxiety was too acute since she's been sick and just too uncomfortable to ask of her at this time.   I asked if they could do it where she was settled (with my holding her head and body close while I stood beside her at the table).    They agreed to that.  Shelly came in about 10 minutes later and did it all herself with us.   Brandi had never experienced it before (I had only once - with Buffy and in that same room which they put us in today... and,  in April too)....   
Shelly explained exactly what she was doing and what would take place.   Brandi came to the table too and stood at the end where Amy was facing.  We both spoke to her and laid our hands (and hearts) on our `little girl' and it was a very gentle and immediate passage as she was set free and we were left to ache with her going....   It is a bittersweet thing to do - letting go and ending a suffering...  The letting go is agonizing - but the peace that comes to the beloved is like a gentle balm - a love gift from us to them....   at a great price of grieving that they are no longer with us physically.
 A crazy and excruciating thought stays with me tonight - "I have no shadow".....  Amy never failed to follow me wherever and/or whatever I was doing....  And without that gentle spirit so faithfully and lovingly close - I feel alone even though I am not.    It is a loneliness I went through with Buffy also....  It takes a long time to fade away....  I remember....  Life has taught me that there are chambers in our hearts that have only one tenant.... ever....  Even when that one tenant leaves us - they remain there within - forever....  

Tuesday 4/15/2003 11:05 PM
Re: Amys' last days....
Dear friend,  I'm so sorry - but, believe me, there is a doggie heaven. I expect to be with ALL my pets some day and see them healthy and well, running and bounding through the fields.  They are such wonderful companions.  As you know, we have 4 dogs.  All of them love me - but my one pup (about 1 year old now), "Spotty" follows me everywhere just like your "shadow."  We got him when he was about 5 weeks old and I remember holding this tiny puppy in the palm of my hand.  He's now a mid-size dog - probably about 40 lbs.  What a sweetie.  My heart aches for you - and your journal made me weep.  Write when you can.  
 Love,  Dorothy, George, Spotty, Heidi, Candy and Buddy.

Sunday 4/20/2003 10:26 AM
Dear Dorothy,  I've wanted to write to you - 
but my heart is just too heavy and I don't seem to be able to do much of anything except the "around" things each day.   The rain,  cold and dampness don't help.   It was a day of it on Friday when we went to New Market to pick up Amys'
remains.   We will take her ashes to Freesoul on a nice day.  For now, she is in my room in a precious little crocheted draw-string purse which is sitting in the lap of one of the two snuggly-bears among the throw-pillows there.   

Thank you for your e-mail,  it was so warm and compassionate and meant a lot to me.... thank you for sharing and caring-about our loss.  I'm still kind of disbelieving that it all happened - and so quickly!   It takes time to adjust.  I certainly know all about that.   Ever our little ChiCho is sad and subdued-though there is no way we could explain to him the why and what of it all - he seems to know that Amy isn't coming back.      Going to my parents for dinner.   Hope that you & George and the fur-kids have a nice Easter....   I'm not sure if you may have found this page within my site, ?
Rainbow Bridge and other works 

It occurred to me that you may know of other writings to add to my little offering there - if so - please send them.   I put the page up in 1997 when our Buffy died.   
I look forward to hearing from you.  Yours because I'm His,
 with love, hugs and prayer from your gypsy,  (Nina)
   <>< <>< ††† ><> ><>

Friday 4/25/2003 8:47 AM
Re:  News Update?
Dear friend,  I haven't heard from you recently! How are you doing?  Don't forget - I'm thinking about you......  ~  Love, Dorothy

Saturday 4/26/2003 9:50 AM
Dear Dorothy,   Sorry about not writing. 
I've been obsessing on other things until the pain of Amys' leaving grew less acute. I still weep.  <excerpt> 
 Now - fill me in on what-all is happening around there with you and George and the fur-kids!  
Yours because I'm His,
with love, hugs and prayer from your gypsy, (Nina)
<>< <>< ††† ><> ><>

Wednesday 4/30/2003 7:53 AM
Not sure your e-mail is working yet - no message ever came from you since your call Dear Dorothy;  How nice it was to talk with you a bit.  
Caring,  loving support in trying times!   Since you said that there was a message to me in your outbox - I have been wondering,  when it didn't come,  what might be wrong!   Thank you so very much for your prayers for us.   I always feel that support both for and from you!
 Our little ChiCho has been so quiet and subdued since Amy left us.   Actually,  it began before then when he couldn't play with her after the surgery which left her in such pain during the healing.     He got in "trouble" several time for playing his favorite little "rush and pounce" game he so loved to do with her (she was at least 3X his size). So he just backed off and watched her - seemingly waiting for sign or signal that their play could continue again....  which,  as you know, it never did....  *sad*   He is seeming to perk up a bit now- perhaps remembering is shorter in animals - for they live so well in the `present' as we all should do....

Wednesday 4/30/2003 11:28 PM   
<excerpted>   We are plugging away and everything seems to be going well. The "fur people" are full of vim, vigor and vitality (I wish they'd give me some of their energy!)
  Of course, we're really "getting up there" in age - but so far we're weathering the storm of aches and pains which come and go, but don't seem disabling. I am reminded of what my father used to say, "if you can eat well and sleep well, there isn't much wrong with you." Amen!!     
PLEASE TAKE CARE - and be sure to let me know if we can do anything to help you..   ~  Love, Dorothy

Friday 5/2/2003 9:25 PM
Re: Hello    
Dear friend,  Did you finally receive my e-mails? 
Honestly, our computer had to be completely re-done, everything re-installed - it's like having a new computer. Even Outlook Express is different!! Well, anyway, we're pretty much back to normal.
   How are you doing? Hope all is well and you, too, are getting back to normal (if there is such a thing!).   <excerpt>
Give ChiCho a scratch behind the ears and a big hug.
    Love, Dorothy

Wednesday 4/30/2003 11:26 PM
<excerpt>  Thank you for the directions and we'll get together sometime this spring - for sure.  I'm so glad you have ChiCho.  How wonderful our "companion" dogs are.  My pup, "Spotty," just came up and nuzzled my arm to tell me it's time to go to bed. Take care, dear friend, and we'll get together soon.

From My journal......
Friday,
 April 11,  2003   ~©~   Dear Me,
Amy is so much worse - I just don't want to talk about it or anything else.   I'm hoping I can return here later - but right now,  I've just called Seven Bends (switched to Dr Hoffman,  ~Shelly) and made appointment to take Amy in to end this terrible nightmare of starvation...  I feel sick to my stomach - we've tried so very hard - I've devoted most of my days and nights to nursing and loving her - hoping for some miracle....   Sometimes I just believe that love actually can overcome all - but there are terrible things in our mutated and deteriorating world - and these things are simply the ~what-is~ of Satans' power to hurt , torment and even to kill....  his time is short and he's making the most of it.    I have many thoughts and feelings to write - but am too weak and wiped-out to do it....  maybe later........

 Saturday, April 12, 2003  ~©~   Dear Me,
A day of cleaning and nursing....    Much computer work as well - along with the frustrations which accompany the waging of war in good against evil (working on Abortion pages)...   I was doing it for two reasons - #1 because I'm far behind in keeping it up and #2,  it distracts me from the pain of the experience and pain of Amys' soon demise and her present suffering as she withers away right before our eyes and in spite of all I do....    I think that she knows too - for she is ever wanting me to touch her and to talk to her and in general,  to be the center of my attention -  which she deserves and I am more than willing to give...   

Sunday, April 13, 2003  ~©~   Dear Me,  
We are keeping a vigil here tonight,  Amy is lying between our desks and Brandi and I are within sight if she opens her eyes.  I believe that her heart is giving out- it seems that way to me.  What matters how?  she is leaving us.  When a beloved one falls so ill as this terrible thing which Amy has....   we are fully aware of the reality that death is not always an enemy....  (perhaps it is not ever....  for if what we believe of Spiritual things - isn't it a graduation day?    A passage from this journey in a strange land,  heading for home - and death is the entering into the lasting peace and freedom from all woe?)
We have thought, several times - that her last breath was near - but then she arises and wobbles her weak, but determined way to follow me or to go for food or drink.     It had been a struggle tonight for her to try and eat - and that left her with only about half of the Feldene dose...  I could see that pain was trying to come - but then she slept a while (more like a coma),  and then awoke hungry and finished the rest of both the pureed meat which contained the Feldene,  and also,  her favorite big dog-bone (from Costco,  lamb and rice) and the rest of her  dinner (leftover roast-beef,  beets and carrots which I cooked for her.   The roast beef was a good one and I chop the slices into tiny little pieces and she loves it.   She proceeded to eat all three unfinished items!   Now is laying at one of her favorite places at the end of the hall,   next to the bookcase in the dining-room here.   I think her kidneys are shutting down,  for she goes out and she squats (this is a very awkward and uncomfortable position for her to reach  now - for her legs have little muscle-tone and her abdomen is so large that it touches the ground). Brandi and I seem to take turns crying and then getting back to the resolved place where we know that death is welcome at this point.   Who knows what could happen yet as the organs keep swelling up where the Mycobacteria are thriving and she is wasting away like a shell around them...  Something could rupture and there could be pain... perhaps severe and agonizing and with all my heart - I do not want that!

Monday,  April  14, 2003   ~©~   Dear Me,
Difficult to write about these last days with Amy.     Today she was eating so well - no vomiting either,  just eating small amounts and enjoying her `little meals' and our time and togetherness....  not knowing that tomorrow she is leaving us.    When she tries to "toilet",   she trembles with the effort and discomfort of squatting and her swollen little belly touches the ground so that she has to have her hips so far apart that she nearly falls over sideways.    Although her bowels do move,  it takes time and I see the great effort it takes and I grieve and feel such self-recrimination for waiting....  and yet - there have been some good experiences in the extra-time- together while we knew it was short.....
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2003~©~   Dear Me,
After Brandi left for school,  I made Amy a nice breakfast and she ate about a third of the small portion and rushed outside to vomit it up.   She was so hungry that she wanted to eat it again.    We came in but she turned around and went back out to do more.   Her poor body so bloated with huge organs inside her and bones showing through everywhere,  was violently wracked in the challenging effort to vomit  each time.   Over the next few hours we went through this again and again - even drinking water caused it too.    She was so hungry that she wanted to eat anyway - but just a few bits of food would cause it again.     I believe her kidneys had shut down - for she was having trouble urinating yesterday too - going out and squatting but nothing happening.     Today she never did urinate at all - so I feel pretty certain that her body was shutting down - choosing it's own time to end this long journey through pain.... Her breath turned bad... so I brushed her teeth for her - but it didn't change the odor  which was obviously coming from some intestinal location which was stagnant or perhaps even,  something had ruptured....  I just don't know.   Just cannot allow myself to be overwhelmed in this day.   I need to focus on the very real and wonderful fact that we have the ability to exercise mercy in a safe and gentle passage-way through veterinarians skilled in the service of performing euthanasia.  I remember when it was done with a gun and other brutal and sometimes traumatic ways that ended a life at a greater cost to ones such as myself....  a cost which I could not pay (using gun or knife or whatever)...   I would be able to administer medication such as Demerol - knowing of my own experience how it allows you to slip away into that peaceful realm - and in the case of an overdose - one would simply not return.  There could,  however,  be unexpected complications which could make the ending traumatic also in various ways.   We have the option,  today,  in the sure and safe service of professionals who insure that the  mercy is mercifully administered.
~later  
Our appointment was at 8:00 p.m.    I'd bought a roast and was fixing a special dinner for us to share with Amy.     She's been getting chuck-roast I'd made for days now,  several times per day - (with her favorite bones in-between the meals) I chopped it fine,  added the gravy from the roast and gave her the steamed fresh broccoli she so loves - at evening time for her Feldene dose.   I just thought that the wonderful aroma would be a good thing as well - for Amy has a nose even sharper than mine!    I love to smell a roast in the oven!    But it wasn't to be that way....    She awoke early with Brandi and vomited twice before she could get out the front door.        While the energy-efficiency man was here to estimate what we needed,   Amy was with me (as A-L-W-A-Y-S-!) and walked around outside enjoying the morning and the sights,  sounds and smells of this beautiful and lush Spring,  (though she was a bit wobbly with her legs and muscles withering from lack of absorbing and/or breaking-down the proteins (and other nutrients)  in her foods.     However,  she was so hungry!  I fixed her a nice meal and she began to eat...  then looked so uncomfortable and went to the door - so I let her out and the nightmare began to intensify and she retched and retched almost falling down with each spasm and when the little amount came out - she looked as though she was going to turn herself inside-out from doing it!   I called to see if we could be taken in before this evening and they offered 6:30 - but that wasn't enough to change the suffering we were going through.   Another hour after that I called to see if Bruce Costin was in this morning - willing that he should do it instead of Shelly Hoffman ... anything to stop this nightmare for Amy (and for me too).   I was so distraught and crying that they said to come right in.   I called P.M.M.S. and asked if they would get Brandi for us and meet us in the office.     By this time,  Amy was panting and in greater discomfort.   I was glad that this was a summer-like day and I was able to roll the window down and she could smell and hear all the wonderfulness of Spring as we drove in....  I had her in her white crib-blanket that she'd claimed long ago as her own....  holding her on my lap.   
I could not say one word to Brandi as she got in the car....  
I could not even look in her eyes,  for mine were overflowing with the tears and even sobs wracked my body convulsively and I was trying to stop!   I didn't want Amy to feel my pain and  be effected by it.    My throat was too constricted to speak anyway as the tears and agony were overwhelming me regardless of how I tried to stop.     We,  (Brandi and I) had discussed whether she wanted to be present if the situation necessitated this quick change in plans - I believe we both felt pretty sure this morning that it was going to be this way....   I could only reach back to her and we held hands tightly...  Then Amy nudged my one hand wanting both of them to be on her....  She has such an endearing way of wanting to be resting her jaw on one hand and have my other one on top of her head stroking her gently,  or even just laying there on top - and she felt great peace and would relax and doze off.....  So today was no exception and I felt my heart would break in her wanting and my complying with her request...
I guess they called Shelly who was willing to come in early - for she arrived just after we did.     The tech was going to start the I.V. in another room and bring her back to where we were with Amy - but I told her that her separation anxiety was just too much to ask of us - and asked if they could do it where she was settled (with my holding her head and body close while I stood beside her at the table).    They agreed to that and actually,  Shelly came in about 10 minutes later and did it all herself with us.   Brandi had never experienced it before (I had only once - with Buffy and in that same room which they put us in today... and,  in April too)....    Shelly explained exactly what she was doing and what would take place.   Brandi came to the table too and stood at the end where Amy was facing,  and we both spoke to her and laid our hands (and hearts) on our `little girl' and it was a very gentle and immediate passage as she was set free and we were left to ache with her going....   It is a bittersweet thing to do - letting go and ending a suffering... The letting go is agonizing - but the peace that comes to the beloved is like a gentle balm - a love gift from us to them....   at a great price of grieving that they are no longer with us physically.  
A crazy and excruciating thought stays with me tonight - "I have no shadow"..... Amy NEVER failed to follow me wherever and/or whatever I was doing....  And without that gentle spirit so faithfully and lovingly close - I feel alone even though I am not.    It is a loneliness I went through with Buffy also....  It takes a long time to fade away....  I remember.... 

Life has taught me that there are chambers in our hearts that have only one tenant.... ever...  Even when that one tenant leaves us - they remain there within - forever....

~
Nina Roberta Baker

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