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11 Oct 2017, 11:22pm
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Living Each Day Without My Best Friend

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Hello friends,

It’s been two weeks since Skyla passed, and each day feels different. I miss her immensely. Some days it seems like she’s been gone so long, others it’s hard to believe a few weeks have passed by. The grief cycle is very much alive. I have my moments of frustration and anger about why she had to be cut short in life, and why she had to endure such a difficult disease. I think about what I could have done differently. But I’m also engulfed in so many incredible memories. I can close my eyes and be welcomed with a specific time over her 11 years where my love was overflowing, and she was soaking it all in. There is no question in my mind that her love was just as real as mine.

Skyla’s ashes were returned home by the kind mobile vet. I took her for a hike, and spread the first bit of ashes at one of our favorite hike spots. We call it the “sunset hike” because it’s an amazing place to watch the sun set behind the Cascades. It was comforting bringing her along, even if it was in a whole different way. I hope to spread a little bit of her ashes at some of her favorite places as I revisit them. I had dreams of doing many other hikes with her, but it wasn’t in the stars for her to go along on paw. One of those hikes is on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m just starting to dream up the specifics of that backpacking trip for next year. She will still accompany me in spirit, and I can leave some of her ashes on the trail.  She won’t be missing a beat.

In a few days, our little family is headed out on a camping trip. We will be trekking through Oregon and Washington. When we set the dates we had no idea she wouldn’t be with us. We wanted to show her so many new spots to explore. I think it’s going to be tough on us. While we are gone, it will also be Skyla’s “adoptaversary.” Just another day to cherish.

One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook recently. I keep reflecting on it:

What Grief Is…

The agony is great and yet I will stand it.
Had I not loved so very much,
I would not hurt so much.
But goodness knows I would not want
to diminish that precious love by one fraction.
I will hurt and I will be grateful for it.
For it bears witness to the depth of our meanings
and for that I will be eternally grateful.
~ Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

XOXO,

Rae


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29 Sep 2017, 3:43pm
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Goodbye, Dear Skyla

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If love alone could have kept you here, you would have lived forever.

Dear Skyla,

My heart will never be whole again. You took a piece of it with you, and I think you left a piece of yours too. You taught me so much about life and love. There will never be a soul more loyal than yours. The memories we shared are too many to count, but I’ll always, ALWAYS remember the feeling when I would tell you I loved you, and ask if you loved me, and you’d look into my soul and kiss me back.

Thank you, my beloved girl.

You may not be here, but you’ll never be forgotten.

August 10, 2006 – September 25, 2017

25 Sep 2017, 4:45am
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How Did We End Up Here? Heartbreaking Times

Hello friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I update our blog tonight. I’ve been trying for days to get myself on here, but it has honestly been so painful I haven’t been able to start. The last month has been a challenge for dear Skyla. We have a veterinarian scheduled to do an in-home euthanasia tomorrow at 3pm. I’m hoping for a miracle, but preparing for her departure from this world.

After bouncing back from her amputation SO well, Skyla started to decline in her mobility and motivation in August. It was concerning, but I couldn’t really pinpoint anything was wrong. It was hot, and we had a very smoky summer here in Oregon, so I chalked some of it up to that. We were all feeling pretty low energy.

End of August, I started to feel concerned that she was in pain. I started her back up on NSAIDs (Vetprofen) to do a little trial. She seemed to be a bit better, confirming there was indeed pain. But where? It became obvious her remaining front leg was hurting her. We scheduled a vet appointment to get it checked out. Leading up to that appointment, I got increasingly concerned about her overall demeanor. Her legs felt hot, and her appetite seemed to dip ever so slightly. We took her in on a Saturday to avoid waiting until her Monday slot.

She was noted to have a considerable fever of 103.5 upon arrival. Bloodwork showed all was well, except for an elevated white blood cell count. We took chest x-rays and a view of her front leg. Front leg showed soft tissue swelling, but no fractures, tumors, etc. Her chest didn’t look so good. You could see two sizable mets had developed, and there appeared to be fluid in her lungs as well. Pneumonia. I never would’ve guessed. She hadn’t so much as coughed once. We started her on a pretty heavy regimen of antibiotics, and left with broken hearts knowing we were one step closer to the end.

That was last Saturday.

We consulted with her holistic vet midweek and changed up her herbs a bit. We also discussed Metronomics, and make the big decision to schedule an appointment with Oncology at Oregon State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. We were looking forward to discussing our options for slowing these mets down. I was feeling guarded but optimistic that we just needed to kick this pneumonia and we’d have a new plan.

Side note: it snowed in the mountains so we beelined it. She had a nice time hopping around in it!

Yesterday, my partner called while I was at work, concerned about her raspy breathing. You see, Skyla still hadn’t developed any respiratory symptoms, but continued to be low energy. Her appetite became pickier, although she hadn’t actually skipped a meal. But he called to say she had coughed, and felt her breathing was heavier than usual. He took her in for a recheck. Bloodwork indicated her white blood cell count was a bit higher, and her platelet count was slightly low. The vet recommended hospitalizing. Tough call, but we decided to take her home and see how she did over the weekend. Her antibiotic dose was increased. At any point, we could take her to the ER if needed, but we decided to shoot for having her hospitalized for the day on Monday with our familiar vet. She explained that pneumonia can take a long time to clear, sometimes two weeks, other times 4-6 weeks. Patience.

Today, Skyla declined considerably. I could barely get her meds in her. She was coughing/sounding congested with any movement. I was running steam showers and performing coupage to try to break up the congestion. Around noon, she coughed and I saw a big red flash of blood on her tongue. Off to the ER we went, deciding to go ahead and hospitalize. To our surprise, the ER vet didn’t even perform an exam, but decided to have a talk with us about letting go. He was fairly certain she was at the end of her journey. We took several new chest x-rays, and the change in just 8 days was shocking. Her lung capacity was nearly filled. He also felt strongly that although it seems like bacterial pneumonia is playing a part, that the space being occupied is much more consistent with tumors. He said he didn’t want to see her spend the night in the oxygen cage when she should be spending time with us. He recommended euthanizing today.

Sigh….my heart is beyond broken. It is shattered. We found a lovely mobile vet to come help her cross the bridge tomorrow. If anything changes, we’ll act sooner. I just needed time to absorb all of this. She is coughing considerably after getting up, but she is resting very peacefully most of the time. She’s very tired. She ate her dinner eagerly and took some Hydrocodone to help with the cough. Tomorrow we will take her to the park for one last roll in the grass if she’s up for it. I will hold her close and remind her over and over how she’s my best girl and I’ll love her forever.

I hate this disease for all of the dogs that have passed and all of those who are currently living with it. It takes them from us far too soon. Skyla is an 11 year old dog, a pretty old age for a larger breed, but I strongly feel that if it wasn’t for this affliction she would have many years left in her. She’s been such a strong spirit with a strong, healthy body. How frustrating to feel so helpless.

I will update more in the days ahead. I don’t even remember life without her; she’s been my sidekick for what feels like my whole life (I adopted her as a pup when I was 17 years old). The pain is nearly unbearable, but I’m trying my hardest to focus on all that she has taught me about love and life.

XOXO,

Rae & Skyla

Top: chest views today

Bottom: chest views 8 days prior

11 Aug 2017, 6:14am
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Today is Skyla’s 11th Birthday!

Hello friends!

We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. Skyla sure is! Today is her 11th birthday, and I’m so grateful she is still with us. She’s doing so amazingly well, it’s easy to forget what a tough few months we just had. She really has the whole “be more dog” thing down. I’m still a work in progress 😉

If you’re wondering how life on three legs has been going right around the week 6-8 time frame, here’s a sneak peak…

Her first time paddle boarding happened on Sunday – what a blast! It was actually mine as well. We paddled around our favorite lake and she was all smiles. Representing the group with that adorable bandana too, of course! We are waiting on our kayak to arrive now too. We’ll be spending many more days on the water, that’s for sure!

Here she is with her new Tripawd friend, Mali! I’ve been helping Mali’s dad Dennis during her recovery (she just passed 3 weeks), and the girls finally got to meet for the first time on Wednesday. It’s so cute seeing two dogs missing the same leg, swimming in the water and rolling in the grass together. What a satisfying feeling to help out these friends during a rough time, passing along the wisdom that I just recently gained myself.

She’s getting stronger every day. NO MORE PAIN! All of sass is back. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the incredible support we’ve received from you, friends. I wish I could meet you all in person just to give hugs (and a high-five from Skye). I didn’t know if we’d see this birthday after the news we got in May, so today is extra special. Cheers to another year! Happy tails!

XOXO,

Rae & Skyla

19 Jul 2017, 4:38pm
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One Month Ampuversary is HERE!

Hello friends!

Today is a WONDERFUL day of celebration. Skyla’s one month ampuversary is here! This is such a milestone, and I’m sure many of you can relate. It’s that time that you imagined before surgery when everything would hopefully be back to a new normal. I’m pleased to say that new normal already came, but we are still seeing so much improvement! I look forward to every day with my best friend. She is such an inspiration and a true warrior.

We had a fantastic lake day over the weekend. A little dip in the water and some relaxation in the long grass. She was in heaven!

She also popped in for a visit to me at work (at a natural pet foods store) and got to check out all the delicious smells. Her human friends were amazed at how well she’s doing!

I think she knew today was special. She popped up onto our bench seat area to sit by me and watch for deer! This is quite a leap; higher than a normal couch. She did it like it was no big thing! She even helped herself down when I had stepped away. I would prefer she didn’t jump so far on her own, but a piece of me was blown away even more!

I’ll be back to write again soon. We’re taking an adventure to Ruffwear today to say thank you for all of their amazing assistance through this. We are fortunate enough to live in Bend, where Ruffwear is headquartered. We also connected with a gentleman and his lovely lab, who was recently diagnosed with osteosarcoma via our holistic vet, and went through with the front leg amputation yesterday. I shared the Tripawds site with him, of course! I’m helping to transport her home this afternoon. I’ve been wanting to pay it forward as much as I can, and this is such an awesome way for me to do that, especially on such a memorable day for us. TRIPAWD POWER!

XOXO,

Rae & Skyla


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