It’s 12:46 am. A storm is coming.
The panting of a dog is usually a sign of joy. It’s something that reflects a fun time, at some park, where the wind has hit the face so many times that a nap is called to order quickly after.
Or a chase between two friends, going around a track to chase after a squirrel, a ball, or something else entirely like a rogue deer.
But tonight I sit here listening to my best friend laying beside me, filling the room with the smell of tired and beaten dog breath. He hasn’t run a marathon in years. He barely can walk due to arthritis. And in the last 24 hours, he’s had not one, but two seizures.
It’s the oddity that comes with being a dog owner. You understand they’re here for a limited amount of time, but when the time comes and the hand of fate knocks at the door, you are ready to barricade the exit just to get a few more minutes with them.
But what are those few more minutes actually worth?
Devin, named after former Chicago Bears star Devin Hester, has always been an extremely loyal companion to me. Even though his head has rung with anxiety since the day he was born, he’s been a spiritual soul mate of mine as he dreads the horrors of the real world.
His breathing has become erratic tonight, which is why I’ve chosen to stay up this evening and soak up our final hours together best I can. I check every few minutes to make sure he is still breathing.
He continues to push on though. But I’m still worried.
Devin has had a very easy, but very hard life. His anxiety as of late has been extreme, frightened by the sound of doorbells, toaster alarms, phone alerts, alarm clocks, barking from other dogs, school buses, car doors, tornado sirens, thunder, lightning, can openers and coconuts (yes, coconuts) to name a few of his triggers.
So how is it that a dog builds up so much anxiety? Well, Dev (my computer savvy nickname for my pup) was misdiagnosed with a urinary tract infection years ago. It was actually diabetes and took another year until a correct diagnosis was issued.
During that year, he lost his sight due to the illness, which just elevated those already nervous tendencies. If it was possible, he would’ve moved to an Amish farm years ago.
Since then, he’s received insulin injections twice daily and has been on a strict feeding schedule at twelve-hour intervals. But he’s weathered the storm with dignity, bravery, and strength. Even now, he lays on a Polar Pooch to stay cool with me while he waits for the next seizure to fire up his arthritic body and have pain shoot through him like the unseen or anticipated monster coming out of the darkness.
But it’s time to take that fear way. It’s time to ease the anxiety.
He’s kept me company and seen me through thick and thin. He was there for college, radio, and various creative endeavors. The Dominos guy knows him by name, he gets all the treats, even though I affectionately refer to him, still to this day, as a “Baby Man” because he’s been gray since he was born.
It’s surreal to think that in less than 12 hours, we’ll be saying goodbye.
Tonight should be a horrible evening. I should be dreading and doubting my decisions. I should be cringing with fear about taking him to the vet tomorrow and that moment I’ll tearfully open my mouth to have nothing come out when I try to say goodbye.
It’s been an absolute damn nightmare watching my best friend resign to the final stages of diabetes. Without getting into the back-story, long story short, if your dog needs to pee all the time and the vet tells you he has a urinary tract infection…think again.
Get a test done and find out if his blood sugar levels are off. It’s not expensive, but his vet never considered it until six months of dealing with the issue (and a change in doctors) found he had the disease.
Can you sue a vet for malpractice?
That’s a question that came up in my head a few times immediately following the correct diagnoses.
Like everything else, of course, you can.
While Devin did not see this particular vet, VCA Arboretum View Animal Hospital in Downers Grove has been sued twice in the last six years by owners who claimed malpractice against their animals. Once in 2014 when Gary Austin brought his Great Dane for emergency surgery and after a $12,000 bill and four days, the dog died. Then again in 2017 when Karen Miles, of Cook County, had her dog’s spleen removed by a doctor who was not board-certified to do internal medicine even though there was a doctor who was certified that did the initial exams on the dog, but not the surgery itself.
The thing about lawsuits are they don’t bring friends back from the dead. No amount of money can do that.
Tomorrow, Devin gets one final bite of the joys of life on what is supposed to be a sunny morning. The pain of failing to be all he can be will finally be gone. The horrors of having his body betray him to become nothing but a memory. His guard’s watch will end and anxiety will be replaced with nothing but peace.
As for tonight, we’ll lie in bed and watch Hogan’s Heroes. Get scared when some lightning strikes and probably do one last dash outside to use the potty before we walk down that short green mile. But even though he’s overheated and tired, worn out and restless, disturbed yet alert, I find an immense amount of joy that he’s happy tonight.
The night before Euthanasia.
UPDATE: Devin passed away on Wednesday, June 26th at 10:15 am surrounded by loved ones. He felt no pain for the first time in nearly four years. He was 14.5 years old. He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 9. He went blind when he was 11. He’s had anxiety over vacuums since the day he was born. Through it all, he was, quite extremely, polite and the best friend I could ever ask for.