From June 10 – 11….
On Tuesday, June 10th it seemed like a totally normal day. We got up, rushed around, got everyone dressed and fed and off to school, likely dealt with numerous tantrums and whines and then picked everyone up and headed home for the evening routine to begin. Lilli made it in the back door before I did and by the time I made it in with Abbi and our eight thousand lunch bags, electronics and daily gear I could hear her complaining that Pippin wouldn’t take his treats and go outside. At first it just seemed like maybe he was having some issues with his arthritis or a pulled muscle. He was having trouble walking that afternoon, but sometimes (especially during the winter) he would occasionally have a bad day or two and have a hard time getting around. Then she noticed he’d pooped several times upstairs and also thrown up. That was definitely outside the norm, so I thought maybe he had a virus or something. Either way we were concerned and wanted to keep an eye on him and see what might be going on. Since it was Tuesday we were in a rush to get Lilli to gymnastics and thought we’d let him rest and see if we should take him to the ER once I got home.
It was another awards night at gymnastics and Lilli was excited to get another medal “because she works so hard”. She really is very good at gymnastics. When I got home I could tell Pippin still felt very, very bad. He was really lethargic and couldn’t really even get out of his bed. He had no interest in any kind of food, and his breathing even seemed labored. He was acting a lot like when he had stomach cancer a few years earlier. I got Lilli in bed and decided to take him to Blue Pearl ER, the same place where his cancer had been operated on. They weren’t busy and got him back right away, and immediately came back and said his vitals didn’t look good and they wanted to classify him as critical and start some fluids. I knew it wasn’t good. I talked to the ER doctor and gave her a quick run down of his history with stomach cancer. She did a stomach ultrasound right away and brought me a syringe full of blood and told me he had internal bleeding in his stomach. Most likely a tumor had been growing in his stomach and had ruptured while we were at work, causing the quick decline from a totally normal dog Tuesday morning to a dog who could hardly walk Tuesday afternoon. His vitals were terrible and at this point there was really nothing they could do. Due to his age and just the unstableness of his condition she didn’t recommend surgery – it would have required blood transfusions and all the things he’d been through three years earlier and it certainly didn’t seem to be advisable to do all that again. At that point I knew it was time we had to let Pippin go, whether or not we liked it. We knew he obviously wasn’t in the best health, but the suddenness of it took us all by surprise. I was able to be with him while they put him to sleep, and all the people there were wonderful. There’s no other place I would have trusted with him in his final moments.
Our last picture of Pippin before I took him to the ER. He hadn’t been able to get out of bed, but after I got Lilli in bed and headed into the office to get the address of Blue Pearl off the computer he managed to stumble into the office to be near me. His very last attempted steps were just to be near me, and at that point he couldn’t even lift his head to lick me, which if you know Pippin is an obvious bad sign because he certainly showed his affection through his tongue. Lilli comes down to say Good Night “one last time” each night – at this point I felt like it wasn’t going to be a good prognosis, so I was able to tell her to give him a hug. She didn’t know I was about to take him to the ER, and we didn’t want her to worry.
It was a long night of adjusting to what had happened. After nearly 11 years you just get so used to always having your buddy around and it’s amazing how many times we thought we heard him scratching at the back door or expected to see him at the bottom of the stairs. At first I thought I might be okay going to work for a little while, but it just seemed overwhelming, and we wanted Lilli to be able to ask us any questions she had. When she came down we told her what happened and at first she didn’t seem to really connect, but then when she saw how serious and sad we were it hit her as well. She’s had a lot of moments over the last three weeks where she brings it up, and lots of questions about why and exactly how. She’s taped a picture of him she had at school onto her headboard and at night she’ll kiss him good night. We talked a lot about memories of him and most of hers involved times he had pooped in her room, or peed in her bathroom floor. It was basically a pajama day for us and we took it easy. Chip seemed confused about where his buddy was, he loved to follow Pippin around in the back yard when he came out, and he did a lot of meowing at the door for him over the following days. Abbi constantly threw food over her high chair to him, and at one point Lilli had an outburst where she told Abbi Pippin was gone and there was no one to clean up her mess. It’s true – I never understood people who had to clean their kitchen daily, but without my little vacuum our floors are filthy.
It’s been a weird and terrible adjustment, and there are signs of Pippin all around our house from artwork to pictures to all the stuffed animals and clothes and even wrapping paper with Boston Terriers in it. He was way more than “just a dog” to our family, and was most certainly an honored member of our little pack. It still seems so weird not to have him so excited when we get home every afternoon or watching for us from the window, or even snoring in the corner.
We had a low key day that day and mostly stayed in our pajamas and played around the yard. Thankfully Abbi took a good nap where we could rest for a little while. The next day Lilli told one of her teachers “I have Good News and Bad News. The Good News is that I got to stay home yesterday but the Bad News is that Pippin died.” She’s been all over the place with it and has had a few spells lately where she’s worried about her Great Granny dying, because she’s old. We think it may be linked to Pippin because there’s no other reason she should worry about it.
We’re planning to do something in the yard as a memorial to Pippin, we’re just not sure what yet. We’re thinking about possibly some sort of fruit tree that we can enjoy, but the perfect idea just hasn’t hit us yet. It’s going to have to be pretty awesome if it’s meant to honor the nearly 11 wonderful years we had our Pippin.