Goodbye to Gus

In January I blogged about our fight with Gus’ cancer. This past week, we lost the fight and had to say good-bye.

Gus was a great dog. I mean, all dogs are great, truly, but he had a special way about him, his own style that made everyone fall in love with him. With every vet visit, the doctors and technicians fell in love with him. Kids loved him because he was so calm and didn’t push them over (unlike Nora). Everyone else saw that face, those eyes, and remarked about him. 

As shared in my previous post about Gus, we fought tumors for quite some time. We went through two surgeries, chemotherapy, and various meds. I tried a holistic treatment via a high concentrated antioxidant vitamin that had good reviews for reducing growths in dogs.

After we stopped the chemo, it took 3-4 weeks for Gus to return to normal. He had his energy back, would play with Nora and was excited to get out and hike (which meant we might see some deer that he could chase after with zero success). We gave him his daily vitamin and went back to life as we know it, without chemo and drugs. We enjoyed approximately two good months before Gus started showing signs of not feeling well. He would get easily winded, lacked energy and wasn’t eating much.

In late March I took him in to have lab work and x-rays done. They ran blood work hoping it was anything but cancer. They checked for lyme’s disease and an array of other ‘things it could be’ but everything came back negative. So on to the x-ray. This revealed the mass on Gus’ lung was back. This explained the lack of energy and shortness of breath when he exerted himself.

We could tell he wasn’t comfortable, though the vet did not think he was yet suffering, but certainly it was a matter of time. How much? No definitive answer. We were about to leave for four days to Arkansas and faced with what to do. He had already stopped eating and had no interest in dog food, cheese or oil. I was able to get him to eat left over Easter ham. But there was no way I could board him and add any stress to him. Thankfully, my father offered to watch both of the fur babes and try to get Gus to eat while we were on our trip.

Upon checking in during our trip away, I was happy to hear my dad could get some steak and some of his meds into him. But on the last day he watched him, the day we returned home, Gus was not eating again and was making moaning/whining noises and acting as though he couldn’t get comfortable. I got to him late that night. He seemed happy to see me and was certainly glad to be going home. I was able to get a small amount of canned food into him that night.

The next day he sat by my desk, making noises once again, and acting uncomfortable. It was a hard decision, but we opted to let him go with dignity, strength, and cognitive functions in tact. I did not want him to suffer any further than he may have been already. And refusing food and water was his way of letting us know.

The Spring Green Animal Hospital accommodated the day and time we wanted to come in. They had the room set up with a pad and blanket on the floor. They provided us with precious time to say good-bye. Dr. Dally also spent time saying good-bye and comforting Gus. I was humbled but the obvious care and empathy they held for all of us. They made a very difficult situation easier and peaceful. Thank you to the staff at SGAH. You were wonderful to us.

When the time came, Gus was laying in my lap. I pet him, talked to him and wept. The injection went in. It was so quick. Within seconds, his heart stopped and he was gone. The clinic provided us with more time to grieve and collect ourselves. Connie said her good-byes in her way, giving Gus kisses and petting him. Then we were on our way home to put him to rest.

He joined Sadie on the hillside by the house. This spring I plan to enhance our growing pet cemetery and create a nice landscaped area where my fur babies lay. They will always be a part of us and in our memories.

Nora is doing amazingly well. I thought she would be a wreck. We tried to ensure she could understand the best possible. We allowed her to see and smell Gus after he was gone and watch us lower him into his resting place. I hope that helped. She misses him no doubt. They were great friends and playmates.

Thank you Gus for five quality years. For being our protector. For your sweet and laid back disposition. For ‘talking’ when you were jealous. For the look that melted my heart.

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