As most of you know from my previous posts, Casey, our oldest beagle (she was 8 1/2), was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in March. Her tumor was inoperable and her prognosis was only a few months. I still can't believe how fast a few months went by. Her last vet appointment a couple of weeks ago (which I posted about on the Seattle threads) was good -- the cancer had spread to one of her front legs but she was still doing very well. We were optimistic that she would make the trip back to Texas with Che in July.
About a week ago, things started going downhill. The cancer had spread to one of her back legs as well and she was having a lot of trouble getting around. She could no longer get up on the bed or the couch by herself, but she was still eating well. She could no longer greet Che at the door when he came home from work, but when he went into the bedroom to see her, her tail always wagged and she was happy to see him. I flew home on Friday and she was just as excited to see me as I was to see her. She greeted me at the door, tail wagging and eyes bright. I could tell she was smiling.
I was shocked by how different she was from the last time I was home, just a month ago. She struggled to get around and she did little more than rest most of the day. And over the course of the next few days, her condition deteriorated very very quickly. On Monday, she stopped eating. The few things that were tempting enough for her to endure the pain to eat them (like milk and baby food), she couldn't keep down. Che said he never wanted her to know what it felt like to be hungry, so on Tuesday morning, I changed my return flight reservations to stay an extra day.
When we walked into that pet store 8 1/2 years ago to buy fish, Che saw this tiny little beagle puppy being carried around by one of the store employees and knew right away that she needed us. Casey has always been daddy's "baby girl." We never imagined the joy she would bring into our lives and the pain she would leave behind. When she needed us more than ever, we did the only thing left that we could do for her. On Tuesday evening, our vet came to the house. It was a beautiful day, and we took her into the backyard. We all sat in the grass. Che held her in his arms and stroked her while I held her paw in my hand, and we all cried together as we helped her on to the Rainbow Bridge.
Towards the end, I know it had to have been painful for her, even though she never once complained. I'm sure her being so brave and strong day in and day out must have been tiring. Part of me likes to believe that she was waiting for her mama to come home so she could finally rest. Deep down I know we did the right thing. I only hope she knows we never ever gave up on her. She put up a good fight and would have kept on fighting, but we couldn't let her do that for us. We loved her too much to let her hurt anymore. And even knowing how it ends, we would have done it all over again.
I still can't believe she's gone. It didn't even hit me when the woman from the crematorium came and took her away. I miss her so much that my heart aches. And I know Che is taking it even harder than I am, if that's possible. We've both always known that Casey was his favorite, even though he never admitted it until yesterday. As he held her in his arms afterwards and cried, I told him that she knew she was his favorite, and that it was OK because he was her favorite too.
I've posted this picture before, but I hope no one minds if I post it again. It's the only one I have scanned, and it's my favorite picture of her. She loved to sleep on top of piles of pillows or blankets, and especially clean laundry. This is from August 1996, when we first moved to Oregon. There was a heat wave and we didn't have air conditioning, so we slept downstairs on the sleeper sofa. When we went to pull out the bed each night, we'd pile up the couch cushions on the recliner and Casey would climb up top, like she was the queen of the mountain.
Sweet dreams, baby girl.