Today I have made some new friends once again. Great dog lovers for sure. Unfortunately, once again these new friends are from our common bond of fighting for the lives of our beloved dogs. It is our love of our dogs that bonds us. Our need to fight and help our dogs and the dogs of others like ours is strong. You cannot know what fighting this disease is like until you have seen it strike the energy and life from your wonderful dog. Unlike some things in life where the path is well defined, there is no such thing to be found here. I don’t think there is any way I can convey the intense emotions and incredible swings as you bounce from blind hope to utter despair. My only comparison would be to take the world’s biggest roller coaster, make it 10 times as high and add a lot more sudden and steeper drops, turns, twists, spins and a lot more time upside down.
The courage I have seen in people is amazing. The determination and fortitude people show for their dogs is incredible. The tenacity of all dogs, from Chihuahua’s to “pit bulls” is inspiring. If only all people could feel what we feel, maybe we would stop fighting and start helping each other like I see when people gather over AIHA. Empathy and compassion combined with passion and determination provide strength for the long fight that is AIHA.
After 2 intense months, battling every minute of the day and night to save my Dog Dylan and months working to regain simple things she has lost, like lifting her head; I still find myself riding the roller coaster of emotion, unable to focus on normal tasks as I did before. I am compelled to channel this emotion into helping others new to the fight. Just having someone who knew what I was going through and could answer a few questions was critical when doubt and fear begin to take hold.
The good news was and is, that the true nature of people shines through as we come together to help each other. In various places on the Internet we gather for help and provide each other strength to continue our fight.
Our dogs do not give up and neither do we. I don’t give up on anyone, or any dog. Not all can be saved and we may have to let go to do what is best for them, but it is not giving up. It is fighting to the death and I know what that means and I mean what I say. I cannot give up, but I must be able to let go.
One thing I tell everyone is that there are no easy decisions and no obvious answers. It is a constant process of guessing until you see things working and even then, that may change too again. Being aware, asking questions, learning and making very tough decisions with no obviously right answer is all you can really do. Please don’t punish yourself if something does not go as planned, or hoped. As long as you are doing the best you can, then that is all you can do. Decisions are made under extreme stress and that often lack any real ability to easily choose so all you can do, once again, is do your best and keep close watch for changes and ask lots of questions. Don’t worry about being a bother. You will never be a bother to anyone who has seen this disease before and what it can do.
I will personally be your cheer leader as well, if I can. I am a big believer in the fact that you are an expert in your dog’s behavior and you need to continue to be one. Knowing what is happening in them, behavior wise, can be a big clue and the difference too, in the choices you make. So watch closely if you can. I had to watch Dylan breathe carefully for a few days in addition to other signs, and she did come out of the anemia with minor brain damage. All part of her rehab though and she is doing very well and I feel very fortunate. Dogs do make it though and many do recover and lead normal lives. I do know others too.
Many others as of this time are battling hard and I am their cheerleader.
Go Mr. B. Go!!! Yaaaay Mr. B.!!! Go SallySue Go!!! Yaaaay Sally!!!
Go Lola Go!!! Yaaaay Lola!!! Go Christina Go!!! Yaaaay Christina!!!
Go Lucy Go!!! Yaaaay Lucy!!! Go Dana Go!!! Yaaaay Dana!!!
Go JoJo Go!!! Yaaaay JoJo!!! Go Denyse Go!!! Yaaaay Denyse!!!
It is impossible to stay positive all the time. I could never be. I just tried not to be too near my dog(s) when I broke down. Sadness is a completely fair feeling to have. I find I do gain strength even from being sad, because it always came back to my love for my dog and my desire to do anything I could. Then the determination and strength returns. Reassurance helps, so that is where I can help. I know that not all dogs can be saved, and I lost my first and life changing dog to cancer suddenly and similarly 2 years ago. I euthanized her on the same spot in my kitchen where Dylan lay unable to stand. It has taken time, but she is everywhere now, in all my dogs and deep in me always. She even helped me get through Dylan’s worst.
What I do know though, is that I found peace in knowing I had done all I could. I felt the same way with Dylan; that if it was too much for her, I had to let her go and I told her as much when I thought I was on the verge of losing her (and I was) that it would be okay for her to let go and that she would be with me always either way.
BUT, she just kept fighting, her strength gave me strength again and we kept fighting. She never gave up on me, or life then, so neither did I, not during prednisone, or any other thing that gets in our way. She wanted to stay and I am so grateful and happy, crying my eyes out again. I feel the same way about all dogs fighting this crappy disease. They do not deserve it, none of them and neither do you. So we fight and I fight for our dogs and for you, their guardians. I ♥ Dogs!
Your Friend AND Cheerleader,
Three Key Support Resources:
VetNet AIHA/IMHA Discussion Group: