I'd like to share an interesting "story". Few days ago, I had to put my furry baby, Zahara to eternal sleep. And it's been eating me...a lot.
Zahara was a beautiful black&white husky who came into my life at age of one, six years ago. I already owned one husky female (Chena River, left on the photo below). They had a few initial misunderstandings but eventually, order was in place. We journeyed to the mountains, spent summers on the coastline and enjoyed hours and hours taking long walks together. Soon I realised Zahara had some problems with her eyes, shortly followed by general lethargy. I spent weeks visiting numerous vets, hours reading about symptoms on the internet only to find out Zahara has visceral Leishamniasis. We kind of sorted that with medication although leish is something we unfortunately had to learn to live with (not curable). There were ups and downs but under the line, the parasite was under control. Two years ago, I met my girlfriend. Pack got stronger, not only with her presence, but with the presence of another male (single one thus far being myself) - Boston terrier Cico.
Walks became richer. Coastline was visited more often. We didn't go to the mountains as much, but we still had an incredible life. We were all living together in a small apartment and the bonds became stronger and stronger.
Zahara and Chena adored snow. Going back through my memory, I realise, snow and mountains were what kept Zahara going strong. She loved it.
When Zahara was five, we discovered some malignant forms near her mammary glands. Luckily, nothing big, but alarming still. We got rid of the nasty stuff and continued on with our full lives. A couple of months later, we found out her kidneys are no longer working 100%. So long raw meat, welcome Hills K/D. Probably a side effect of the years on Allopurinol (meds she was taking for leish). It wasn't a diet she'd pick for sure, but we needed to do it. Another year went by. Snow. Sea. Walks. Mice. Bugs. She loved catching and eating may bugs in flight. Life was nice. Then came beginning of this year's summer.
Zahara was lethargic again. She slept a lot. She lost that spark and general interest. Not a huge deal, I thought to myself...after all, we've been through so many ups and downs before. And then, one day, while on vacation, after an intensive playtime with Chena and another dog...bam. A seizure. First time I saw that in a dog. Awful, awful thing. Quick call to a vet who comforted me with information that this might "just be" epilepsy. First seizure was shortly followed by another one two hours later. And then another one. We didn't even pack our stuff (we had a trailer in camp) - straight to the clinic. Breathing was okay. Her heart was okay. Her blood was great and her kidneys fantastic (Hills food paid off). We took Zahara home. 12 hours later, another ugly seizure. We've had it - back to the clinic. Zahara was hospitalised so that vets could find out what's going on. They've found smaller stones in the bladder and one large one in the kidneys. We were also advised a CT scan. Zahara was in the clinic for the next three days. I can't remember ever feeling that devastated. This was the first time we had to spend time away from each other. I did visit her, but she was not herself anymore. She barely recognised me. I felt broken. And then, CT scan results finally came.
Lung cancer. Spread widely.
Large Brain tumor. (...reason for seizures, we all suspect)
I literally collapsed and bursted into tears. She was only seven! The thought of us no longer being in a pack together, froze my blood. Sadly, that thought was reality. Vets put Zahara on Spasmex, Medrol and Keppra and we took her home. We wanted to give her as much love, warmth, and happy moments as possible. Back at home, she was different. She no longer recognised the building. She failed to guess where the entrance was. She didn't know where the exit door was. Worse of all...she no longer recognised her "sister"...Chena (the other husky). There were no more seizures (thank god for that) but that was the first time I truly realised we lost her. She did somehow still recognise me and followed my voice when I called her name, but that was it. She spent additional two nights in the warmth of her home. She was constantly circling around, kept standing on her feet...couldn't or wouldn't want to lie down. She was confused...whined subtly and kept changing places almost as if she was looking for a way out. And a way out, I gave her.
I found out how the hardest decision in one's life looks like at the age of 39. Euthanasia. What a terrible word. I calculated the odds of her somehow getting better. And then calculated again. And again and again and again. I came to the same result on and on but I just kept calculating. Cancer can be removed...or radiated...there's chemo. But that will make her suffer. What good is that life? With those odds? And while I was doing that, Zahara just stood there, subtly whining, with eyes I never saw before. Empty. At that moment, I knew I need to gather the strength and do it. I stayed with her, embraced her, talked to her positively until she gently passed in her sleep.
Did I do the right thing? Should we have waited for a little longer? Maybe the cancer stopped growing? Why didn't we visit the oncologist? Maybe CBD would do the trick? Or homeopathy? Or essential oils? I should have given her curcumin...and spirulina...and beta glucan. How could I take her life?! She might have wanted it the other way around! Who gave me that right? Maybe I should have done it sooner? I felt guilt. And anger. And sadness. And emptiness. I felt absolutely devastated. There was this immense void created by her absence. It's indescribable. There were her last pictures in my head. There was hope she'll still somehow reappear behind that next corner on our walk. I saw her e v e r y w h e r e. I heard her running. I heard her breathing. I smelled her.
I can't ever remember being so depressed and sad in my entire life.
Two days after Zahara was no longer with us, my girlfriend and I went for an evening walk. We talked about it..a lot. In fact, we only talked about Zahara. Memories of her. We never meet anyone new on our walks. Just same old faces walking same old dogs. Until that evening. We met a young couple who didn't live nearby. They visited a friend and decided to walk their 4 month doggie before they head back home. This was their first time there. Their dog? Black&white female husky. What an incredible coincidence.
We turned around and went back home, passing a grass field nearby, and we shared some rare laughs, remembering how Zahara used to catch May bugs on that field. We also realised how this year, strangely, there were no may bugs to be seen.
We came home, I open my laptop and there was this Facebook post on top ...from a Canine Epilepsy group...by a guy announcing a premature passing of his beloved pet, 2 year old black&white husky. Another amazing coincidence.
I took a shower, and went out to pick the laundry. And there was this beautiful beetle on top of the bed sheet. It was a metallic green scarab beetle. My girlfriend said with a smile on her face: "See?", to which I sadly replied: "Yeah...but it's not a may bug." 5 minutes later a may bug flies inside and lands on the floor with his feet upwards... First one this year.
This very morning, a sparrow flew into my room. He sat down on the top part of my chair... lingered for a couple of seconds and flew away.
The Take home message
This turned out to be a much longer posted than initially intended. Given the importance of Zahara in our lives, I thought it was crucial to present the story from the start to the very end. Some will see these coincidences merely as...coincidences. Some will say, when in pain and filled with emotions, we become much more susceptible to details we usually don't see in our busy lives. And I will say there is clearly much more to life, love and death, than we're able to understand. I firmly believe these little coincidences were all just signs life doesn't necessarily end with death. In fact...and call me crazy...I believe these little messages were sent out to me with intention to make peace with it. I still feel terribly sad. That void is still immense. And I still love our Zahara just as if she was still around us. Hearts won't stop bleeding. Memories will not disappear. But after those special events, I have to admit, I do feel a bit better.
But doesn't every story have a beginning and the end? Maybe so. This, however, is probably just the end of a chapter of an unfinished book.