Not Ready to Say Goodbye

I remember it like it was yesterday. She was the tiniest puppy with silky-soft, pointy ears and the cutest button nose, and she was supposed to be an Australian Shepherd mix about 7 weeks old. And the moment we saw Abbie, she stole our hearts. We couldn't write the check for her adoption fee fast enough. 

We had stalked the Forsyth County Animal Control website for weeks, even completing the adoption application before we found the perfect companion for Elmo, our blind Basset hound. After we found out that our other Basset, Duchess' chest tumor was inoperable, we knew we had to prepare for the day when she was no longer with us, and it seemed smarter to introduce a new family member before the inevitable happened. 

Boy, did that not go according to the plan! Still, although the sequence of events was not as planned, adopting Abbie-Dabbie was one of the best things we could have done. She proved to be a firecracker from the start, quickly showing her Holy Terrier parentage. She and Elmo became best buds, although Duchess was not amused. Abs took on the role of Hall Monitor, making sure everyone (2-legged as well as 4–legged) towed her line. From the time she found her voice (ironically in K9 Training class, where she was supposed to keep it to herself), she had this guttural growl that led to a take-a-step-back-buddy bark. Inside, she was a big ol' marshmallow, although most people never saw that side of her.

Her adoption eventually led to Winston's joining the family from Forsyth, and since they were both 2013 babies, we thought we could enjoy 10-12 years with A and W in residence. 

Again, things have not gone according to the plan. 

We had to take Ab's to the Eastside Emergency Animal Medical Center yesterday, as her tummy had become distended and enlarged...seemingly overnight. This was all the more worrying since she hadn't been eating properly for a couple of weeks, and she had begun to vomit yellow bile. At first, we had explained away the symptoms by attributing them to the stress brought on by our move...or by the multitude of recent thunderstorms (which terrified our little terrier)...or by the fireworks over the Fourth. But the tummy issues could not be explained away. 

The X-ray showed a huge white mass in her belly, which the ER vet thought might be a tumor in her spleen. Although stunned, we were able to participate in the planning process for her care: she would stay overnight at Eastside, getting IV fluids and pain meds. Since Abbie had the well-earned reputation (first noted by Dr. Barker, her NC vet) of being "stoic," it was difficult to tell that she was in terrible pain. It was easy to see that she was lethargic, though. If all was well, she would undergo a splenectomy when the surgeon arrived Monday morning. We kissed her goodbye as Marian the Terrific Tech took her back.

On Monday morning, we had several telephone conversations with the vet surgeon who wanted to make sure we understood what would be happening. And she assured us she would call before noon to let us know how things were going.

I knew the second I answered Dr. H's. call at 11:30 that her news was not good, but I wasn't prepared for the full gut-punch: a massive tumor had invaded multiple organs, and there was nothing that could be done. The decision was made for us, and the tears started to flow in buckets. It is always difficult for pet parents to make the hard choice to let a fur baby cross the rainbow bridge, but it is exceptionally wrenching to have to say goodbye way too soon.

Abbie-girl, you were loved and you are missed. 


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