Monday, October 15, 2012

Tough month at the Giffy dog household

To say I'm writing today with a heavy heart would be an understatement. Not only did my mom and her sister both die of Alzheimer's within one day of one another during the first week of September, but last week, I had to let go of not one, but two, of my beloved pack members, Gizmo and Kunda. 

Gizmo in 2010
The good news is that they both lived long and, I believe, happy lives. Although Gizmo had a rough patch for his first five years living with a hoarder who had 150 animals, he found his way to me and decided to stay. He was the first dog I adopted after I began rescue work in 2000, and he entered my house over my objections. I wanted to wait through Spring before adopting, but he made it very clear that he expected to stay. Gizmo won.

Over the past eight years, he's dealt with a degenerative spinal condition, but somehow managed to walk right up until the end, and although he's become increasingly foggy over the last few years, I believe he was peaceful, sleeping much of the time and fading ever so slowly. At the end, he was losing his ability to stand, and food was becoming too much of a challenge.

Kunda was an 11-year-old mastiff that I adopted as a puppy. Although she suffered from severe allergies during the first four years of her life, we managed to clear them up, and she had seven wonderfully healthy years after that. I credit her with keeping the pack stable and peaceful. She was a firm, but fair, leader, and the dogs respected her.

Kunda in September 2012
courtesy of Barbara O'Brien Photography
In August, I learned that she had degenerative mylopathy. She walked well right up until the end, when her legs started to fail rapidly. It was a painful for me, until I realized how blessed I had been with her longevity and health. I managed to bring her to Barbara O'Brien's farm on September 1st before her condition worsened, and she snapped some lovely pictures of Kunda for me. For that, I will be forever grateful.

And the final journey for Giz, Kunda, me, and the rest of the pack was made so much more comfortable by the sensitive and gentle work of Karen Randall of Solace Veterinary Hospice. She stayed with me for over two hours, explained every step to me so there were no surprises, allowed me to go at my pace, and lovingly wrapped Giz in Kunda in fleece blankets before carrying them to her car.

It was a beautifully peaceful end of our journey together, and I was so grateful to have the option to release them in the comfort of my home surrounded by their pack.

Gizmo and Kunda: Safe journey . . .