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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Post #32: Henry's Back Again

Henry turned seven, and the memories of his back injury were fading, but still in place.  We had installed ramps everywhere we could think of.  We were 80% successful in getting Henry to use the ramps.  Unfortunately, 80% was 20% too little.

We saw the jump when it happened.  But there was nothing we could do to stop him.

He jumped off the couch, and Henry had trouble using his hind legs.

We gave him his anti-inflammatory pain medication and put him in his crate.

The next morning we took Henry to the vet.  We explained that Henry went down on his back.  We had followed the procedures we’d been instructed too, but Henry wasn’t any better.

We had seen this coming on.  Henry had been less active, and he looked like he was in pain.  When the big jump happened, we knew he had done significant damage.

Henry got an injection and we went back home, placing Henry back in his crate.  The next day, he still wasn’t walking and his hind feet were “knuckling under.”

We went back to the vet’s office. 

The vet examined Henry and put him on the floor.  Henry made a liar out of us by walking.

Relieved, we took Henry home again, and put him back in his crate.  Maybe he would survive another back injury, after all!

I carried Henry outside later that day so he could take care of business.  Henry could not stand.  I supported his back end with a towel and helped him get relief.  But I was worried.  He was supposed to be getting better, not worse.

Henry did not like sleeping thin the kitchen by himself, so I brought his crate into our bedroom.  He still was not happy with the sleeping arrangements, but at least he was close to us.

During the night, Henry wet his bed.  He no longer had control over his bladder.  He had no feeling.  No control of anything that happened below the waist.  Henry tried to lick clean the mess he made, which really made us sad.

He cleaned up Henry and his bed.  Wife and I had a long talk.  Our lifestyle and house were not conducive to a wheelchair dog.  Wife’s back problems prevented her from being able to carrying Henry outside.  I had started a new job and was commuting to my new work, often staying away two to three nights a week.  I would be no help.  At this point, we could not afford another back surgery.  And Henry seemed to be more impaired than he had been the first time.  Was it time to ask the vet to put Henry down?  We didn’t know.  We needed to talk to the vet.

We called the vet and let him know what was happening.

We picked up Henry and a towel and took him back to the vet’s office.  Wife and I held it together pretty well on the drive over.  We did pretty well in the waiting room.

The vet invited us to the back, and we carried Henry to one of the examining tables.  The vet took time to explain what he was going to do and what would happen as the injection took effect.  We were asked if we would like to stay, or if we would rather wait in the waiting area.  We chose to stay with Henry.

The vet prepared the syringe and tried to find a vein in Henry’s front paw.  Henry lifted his paw away.  He tried again, and Henry avoided the needle again.

The vet explained that he would make the injection in Henry’s rear paw.  It would take a little longer, but Henry would not be aware of the injection, since he had no feeling in that part of his body.

I held Henry in a hug as the needle went into his hind paw.  Almost immediately I felt Henry slip away.  His warm body just kind of melted away, and I lay him on the table.

Henry was gone.

And our tears arrived in buckets.  Wife and I were both overcome with grief.  We couldn’t hold our tears back, or our sobs. 

This was perhaps the hardest thing either of us had ever had to do.  I have no doubt that others in the waiting room heard us.

The vet verified that Henry was dead.  Then he wrapped him in our towel and handed Henry to me.

Once we got home, I buried Henry under the overhanging branches of the mulberry tree.

This was his favorite spot during the spring.  He would spend hours here eating mulberries.  I felt this was a fitting spot for Henry’s remains, allowing him to rest forever under the one spot I tried so hard to deny to him.

Wife and I were devastated.  We both continue to feel sad every time we think about Henry.  Because he was a dog and not a child, we had to make a terrible decision.  One based on practicality, not desire.  Wife lacked the strength to carry him in and out of the house. I was away in Victoria several days a week.  Our house was built in such a way that Henry could not have had access to the yard he loved without our help.

Wife and I grieved over Henry’s loss.

When I brought Henry into the backyard to bury him, we let PD spend some time sniffing the body.  I think he understood that his brother was gone.  I’m not sure that he mourned Henry’s loss.  We didn’t notice a difference in his behavior.

I’m sure PD did notice, however, that he was getting a lot more attention.

RIP, Henry

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