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The End.
Thursday June 18th 2020, 8:25 pm
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June 18th, 2020.

June 13th was the saddest day of my life.

I started this blog with the intention of documenting my honest and true thoughts throughout Akeela’s cancer journey, so that’s exactly how I’m going to end it as well. This will be my last and final post.

Akeela had her fourth and final round of chemotherapy on June 10th. We had a follow up appointment scheduled in three weeks. At that time, the Oncologists were going to do more blood work to determine if we could start an oral form of chemotherapy called Chlorambucil. They noted that she was otherwise in great health and joked that they didn’t want to see me before our next appointment.

On June 12th I had an end-of-chemo party for her at the new house and invited all her dog friends. We had party hats, pupcakes, dog treat goody bags, pizza and beer for the humans, and most of all – lively spirits. We had all just given our pups their slice of cake and were watching them roam around the back yard.

Choji, Akeela’s boyfriend, was trying to give her kisses and nips while she stood above him on the deck. When he jumped up, she moved backwards at the same time and slipped onto her side. She let out the most awful blood-curdling ear-piercing screams of pain. Pure torture. She was screaming and yelping and looking around desperately and I was absolutely helpless. After what felt like an eternity (which in reality was close to a minute) she finally stopped screaming and just laid there limp. I knew something was very wrong.

I carried her into the house and could see that she couldn’t move her back right leg at all. Dislocated maybe? It was such a small fall, there’s no way it could have been broken. I immediately called the ER vet and loaded her into the car bed. We drove the 30 minutes to Longmont to be at our regular clinic. It felt like the longest drive of my life. Akeela was still eating treats on the drive, so I figured that was a good sign. It didn’t occur to me that that could be our last drive together.

Apparently there were a few emergencies that night, because we waited in the parking lot for almost four hours before the ER vet gave me a call. Her femur had snapped in two. He said it may be a trauma fracture or pathologic. Trauma had the potential of being fixed. Pathologic did not. He said that he wanted to send the x-rays to a radiologist and have Dr. Fowler (our regular Oncologist) take a look in the morning. He told me that humane euthanasia may be an option that I needed to consider in the morning. He referred to it as doing things ‘for’ Akeela versus doing things ‘to’ Akeela. I fell to the floor of the parking lot and cried the hardest that I ever had before.

I did not sleep that night. The only thing that pulled me through was knowing there was a small trace of hope that it was a trauma fracture. If there was any chance – no matter how small – that we could do the surgery, then I was 100% on board. I was already mentally planning how her after care would look. A dog with only 2 functioning legs. How long would her cast be on for? I could sleep downstairs on the couch, since she wouldn’t be able to go upstairs. We could use the front door to go out and avoid the back patio. Thoughts my mind instantly jumped to, because a pathologic fracture was unreasonable.

Shortly after 9 am the next morning, the Doctor called to let me know that Dr. Fowler and the Radiologists had reason to believe her snapped femur was a pathologic fracture caused by the bone cancer. They don’t do surgery on pathologic fractures, because the bone won’t heal. They said they were very convinced it was pathologic, but could only be 100% if they did a biopsy, which would take a week to get results. They said they didn’t recommend going that route, because waiting that long would cause more trauma to her fractured bone and we could risk having her leg hemorrhage. They told me my only option was euthanasia.

After everything we had been through and pushed through, I couldn’t believe that this was our end. That the world could be so cruel. They did CT scans about two months ago when they thought she had a metastasis in her spine. Everything came back clear. They couldn’t see any type of lysis in the bone, until her femur had snapped in two. This came as a cruel twisted surprise to everyone who had been along for her journey. Fuck cancer you fucking fuck. The Oncologist now believes that much of the pain we had been trying to manage with Dr. Downing was likely due to her weak and frail bones that had been eaten away from the inside out.
If you don’t take any action after an osteosarcoma diagnosis, they estimate the dog to live 3 months. If you do amputation you may get 6 months. Amputation and chemo gives most dogs a year. If you’re lucky you may even get 2 years. I did amputation, chemotherapy, rehab therapy and she was still take from me after 3 months. The fates had this in store for us from the beginning. We never had a chance, because in the end … cancer always wins.
The clinic let me come in to say my good byes to her on Saturday morning. How could this be happening to me? Everyone said I was going to have tome to plan. I had picked out an in-home euthanasia service that I wasn’t expecting to use for a year or more. And all that was taken away from us in an instant. I cried the entire drive to the ER. They told me that I could have as much time with her that I wanted. I sat crying and hugging and kissing my baby girl on the floor for five hours. I would have stayed there all day if I could. I brought her favorite toys and treats and hand fed her ice cream. No amount of time was enough. In the end, I couldn’t make the decision of ‘when.’ My mom called in for me. They were giving her morphine every 3 hours or so and at the end I could see it still wasn’t enough. My sweet perfect little angel was suffering.
The image of her leg snapping while she screamed out in pain and the sight of her life leaving her perfect little wolf body are the two pictures I see in my mind over and over and over again. I don’t know how anyone could torture such a pure and perfect soul. I hugged and kissed her and told her she was such a perfect beautiful girl while they gave her the injections – the first one clear and the second one pink, to aid in a peaceful passing. I clung hopelessly to her lifeless body afterwards for as long as I could. I couldn’t believe that she was gone… her body was still warm and her eyes wouldn’t close. I kissed her still little dog face one last time before I left the room.
Every day that I wake up and she isn’t here is the saddest day of my life. I lost my soul mate. My best friend. My other half. I feel like I’m dying. I lost part of myself with her that day. I have a constant stream of tears that roll down my face – sometimes resulting in violent convulsions.
I collected all of her belongings and have them surrounding me in my bedroom so that I can be in her essence. I sleep in her dog bed, fall asleep cuddling with her favorite dead baby toys, smell her socks as often as I can, and at night I’ll sit alone jingling her collar to imitate the sound of her being next to me. I made one of her dog tags into a necklace that I wear with me every day. I have a box of her fur that I hold close to my heart longingly. I even hung one of her rubber non-slip mats in my room because it has her drool stains on it. She would wait for me by the window and drool all over the floor. How sad and pathetic am I that I’m collecting dog drool???
The internet has not been kind and most certainly preys on the weak. I recently purchased a queen size fleece blanket that has a giant picture of her on it. I also invested in a photo pillow that they cut into the shape of your dog. I found plants and trees that you can add ashes to, which I’m also debating doing. And I just sent off some of her fur, so a company can use her DNA to turn into a tattoo-ink mixture. Grief makes you crazy.
I have watched nothing but sad dog movies, because I feel like the characters can relate to the loss I’m experiencing. I also created the worlds saddest playlist that I listen to on repeat (Wiz Khalifa ‘See You Again’ and Celine Dion ‘My Heart Will Go On’ being the real tear jerkers). And the funny thing is … nothing makes me feel better.
I Googled if it was possible for the human body to physically run out of tears … it’s not. It is, however, possible to cry so hard that you die. Apparently the uncontrollable sobbing can cause your heart to swell up and end your life. I’m still not convinced that this isn’t going to be the cause of my ending.
I had pulled the seats out of my Toyota and put a foam mattress in the back for her. Everyone always joked that the FJ was Akeela’s car. Full of white hair and particularly designed just for her. I crawled into her car bed today and cried. More violent convulsions. Today is the 6th day that she’s been gone and I still ugly-cry and sob at the thought of her. I miss her every second of every hour of every day. I may never be able to drive my FJ Cruiser again. It’s a good thing I have a motorcycle to ride instead (sorry mom if you’re reading this …. I have had a motorcycle for 2 years that I never told you about… didn’t want you to worry…).
I was supposed to get a year with her. I was supposed to get to plan it. I was supposed to have time. And it was all taken away from me in a single instant.
My heart is broken. I am not okay. I may never be ok again. I have an Akeela sized hole in my heart. Every decision I ever made was based around her. And now she’s gone. She won’t softly rest her little dog face on the side of my bed to wake me up in the morning. She won’t jam her cold nose into my eye again. I won’t ever hear her soft little breathe-whines. She won’t ever throw her head up at me in expectance when I stop giving her pets. She won’t follow me around from room to room just to be with me. She won’t be waiting at the door for me when I leave or come back from the house. She won’t be shoving her little face into the shower to see what I’m doing. And I’ll never feel her warm wolf body snuggling against mine in bed. She won’t do anything ever again because she is gone. Cruelly taken from me in the most awful and twisted way.
Friends have been sending me white flowers in her honor and every time I go downstairs and see another vase, it breaks my heart all over again. I pulled all of her belongings into my room specifically so that I wouldn’t have any more surprises. My room is where I can mourn and cry and be surrounded by her being. It is far too heartbreaking to be caught off guard by unexpected surprises that trigger more sad memories.
And I am SO GOD DAMN MAD. I scream into my pillow every night but it’s just not enough. I want to BREAK something. How could such a cruel thing happen to her? Why didn’t any body foresee this? Why did she have to suffer? FUCK YOU CANCER. And I can only hear “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “I can only imagine your pain” so many times. Yes well I couldn’t imagine this either. It never occurred to me that I would have 9 months less than I thought with her. But here I am, living my worst hell. Picturing her leg snap over and over and over again while she screams out in pain. After the tragic story that we had so far, I honestly can’t imagine there being a WORSE ending for her. She was perfect. In every way. And I am so mad that this had to be the end of our story together.
My friends and family are as supportive as they can be. It’s not their fault that they don’t understand. That they can’t feel the physical soul-destroying pain that I am in every minute. I’ve been locked away in my room for 6 days and can’t talk to anyone, because their (unintentional) shallow responses just aren’t enough. Akeela was my entire world and they just don’t get that. They don’t know what it feels like to spend your entire life loving and caring for something just to have it taken away from you in the most traumatic and awful way. We were a team. Everyone always associated Akeela and I together. There’s no me without her.
The only people I’ve been able to confide in are people in the tripawds community and a new friend I met named Garrett. People have reached out and explained their recent loss and let me know that my grief is similar to what they felt. And that’s the ONLY thing that helps me feel a little better. Knowing that I’m not alone in my suffering. That someone out their loved their baby as much as I did. Talking to people who feel or felt what I feel now makes me feel a little less alone. Tragedy brings people together.
When I first got Akeela’s diagnosis I remember bawling my eyes out on the whole drive home and having my (used to be) roommate to come back to and get consolation from. I had told my closest friends within the first few days as well. I distinctly remember thinking to myself how I wished I had someone in my life that would be empathetic who could truly understand my suffering and fear. And that made me more sad and feel even more alone than ever.
The day before I moved out of my last apartment a man named Garrett started conversation with me from his back yard. I had lived in that complex for a year and we had never spoken before. He said he had recently noticed Akeela’s leg and told me that he had just found out his dog, Loki, had heart cancer. They estimated that she only had about 3 months to live. We both thought that his dog would be the first to go … and then Akeela took us by surprise. The only thing it taught us was that there are no guarantees with cancer. They can be taken from us at any minute.
I truly believe the dog gods brought us together for this experience. They say people have multiple soul mates in their life time – some are only in your life for a day, others are around for years. I believe that Garrett and I are soulmates and this is the role he came to play in my life. He has been here for me through my darkest of times and I will be right there with him when it’s his turn. He encourages me to acknowledge my dark thoughts and supports every step that I’ve needed to take to try and survive this horrible tragedy. Trauma Buddies. I’m sure it looks unusual to my close friends, who see me spending time with a stranger I just met a few weeks ago. But it’s different when you have someone who understands. Someone whose feeling exactly what you feel. And that’s what I need right now. I eat, sleep, and breathe pain.
When I look back, I honestly believed that Akeela’s amputation was the greatest tragedy of my life. People would ask how she was nonchalantly and I would angrily think SHE IS NOT OKAY, SHE JUST LOST A LEG AFTER 13 YEARS OF USING IT. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?? For the first two weeks following her surgery I stayed up every night watching her and cried myself to sleep. And then her pain management issues started. That was a whole other level of tragedy. Up to that point, that experience was by far the most traumatizing and horrific that I had ever been through. And now this. Watching her leg snap in two in front of me. Hearing her scream out in pain. Spending five hours with her on her last day. Watching them give her an injection that ended her life. And now the inconsolable grief and suffering that has consumed my entire soul.
I would love to stay locked away in my room with her memories for the rest of my life. Unfortunately I know that’s not reasonable. But the reality is that outside of my room has so much unforeseen and unexpected heart break. I got a package delivered in the mail earlier this week that I had ordered when she was still alive. I have no desire to open it, even though I had been anxiously waiting for it for weeks. I heard Choji, Akeela’s boyfriend, throw up in the next room and thought to myself ‘I’ll never have that alerted sense of panic for Akeela again.’ I have only been able to drink one smoothie every day for the past 6 days, because the thought of food is nauseating. You’d think a smoothie would be innocent enough. But no, even that hurts. The first time I made one, I just stood there looking at my almond butter soaked spoon and cried to myself because I didn’t have Akeela there to lick it for me anymore. She was a part of everything I did every single day. How do you go on without them?
And it breaks my heart to see happy healthy dogs everywhere. It makes me sad and jealous and envious and angry and spiteful because mine was taken away from me. And I would never wish evil on another, but it hurts me so much to see everyone so happy. Everyone else’s life is going on undisturbed and that makes me sad, because my life stopped. I even briefly debated packing up all my belongings and moving back into a one bedroom. The idea of living in this big house (specifically picked out for Akeela) and seeing her dog boyfriend every day is just too much to take. I know they are more unrealistic thoughts provoked by grief, but you try to think of everything you can to make the pain hurt a little less.
Yes, you can say “at least she isn’t in pain anymore” which totally – I agree with. I am happy she isn’t in pain. Pain is awful and she didn’t deserve it. But WHY DID SHE HAVE TO BE IN PAIN TO BEGIN WITH? And that’s just a dark loop that takes you nowhere good.
So as of now, six days after the worst day of my life… I can honestly say the only thing that makes me feel better is shared suffering. Knowing there are people out there who are just as shattered and heartbroken as I am. Because all I can do is look at the broken pieces of my heart and wonder how I will ever be able to put them back together again. Akeela was 13 years and 8 months old. I cannot remember a time when she wasn’t in my life. And I don’t know how to be a person without her. So now I live with every day being the saddest day of my life. No words will ever make it better.
They better be taking good care of my baby up there in wolf-dog heaven.

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6 Comments so far

I cannot even respond!! I am sooooo gutted, soooo a gry. truly grief stricken. TRULY!!! Ahocked and stunned!!
No, there ate no words. Never really are.
The ONLY thing I will say tru my tears right now is we DO understand your jeart is shattered, seemingly beyond repair. We DO understand you ate sickened and angry and can hardly take a breath inbetween the sobs.

We also understand, no one, no one, no one, could ever have done more of Akeela. No one could have fought harder for her! She is a fighter and Warrior just like her hoomans. We all are soooo touched by her determination and her never give up attitude, just like her hoomans.

I can only tell you we love her too. I can only tell ypu we are soooo privileged, so very privileged, to have been on this journey with her, with you.

I will come back when my tears slow down. I can’t type as it is, but trying to type thru tears makes it worse!!

I can add one more thing though. In Nature nothing ever “dies”. To pit some of Akeela’s ashes in the earth where she can grow and nurture new life through a tree…..beautifulđź’–

With all my heart and Soul, I am so very sorry

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie

   benny55 on 06.18.20 @ 9:05 pm    Reply

I am so sorry about Akeela. I just lost my boy almost four months ago. But I will not say I know how you feel, because those are your feeling, and that is between you and Akeela. But I do understand your pain. And yes it sucks! The entire journey sucks! Even though they are happy and thrive on three, we still have that “C” word constantly in our minds.People say over time it gets easier. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I do think more of happier days. And I can look at pictures knowing Brownie was a happy dog. Even though your pain is just beginning I hope you can find some confort in knowing that Akeela will never be in pain again. She is still watching over you, and she will live forever in your heart. Every thing that comes to earth one day must go home, and I truly believe we will be with our fur babies again. I know Brownie was there to great Akeela when she crossed over, and I know he showed her where the best cookies are.

You are in our thoughts, and just wanted you to know how sorry I am. I don’t have any advise. Cry as much as you need to. Punch a wall if you have to. I do promise there will be a day when you feel better, and that will make Akeela so Happy! Watch for signs, because she is still with you.

hugs, Nancy and Angel Brownie

   brownie1201 on 06.18.20 @ 10:12 pm    Reply

OMG … I am so sorry. Im not sure there are any proper words.
Tears running down my cheeks.
Hugging you and holding you in my heart and thoughts.
Yes, have experienced similar, as have several here.
Please know that this wasn’t your fault. And even though it hurts, your baby had the best person to guide her over the bridge.

Holding you in thoughts, heart and prayer.
I am so very sorry for your loss.
Jackie and Huck🥰

   paws120 on 06.19.20 @ 1:12 am    Reply

As I sit here with tears streaming I just want you to know that fuck yeah I understand. We became part of the tripawd community by way of my pup, Sway. He was seized as part of a hoarding case and someone had hit or kicked him hard enough at under six months to break his femur all the way at his pelvis. Of course they didn’t seek out any vet care for him and the bone remodeling was going badly and causing him pain so the only choice we were given was amputating the leg.
The way we came to get Sway was my husband trying to pull me out of that black pit that you’re living in right now. Two weeks earlier, we had lost our boy Aries to cancer. It came on hard, fast and hit him like a freight train. Vet checks, consults, diagnosis, care plans, meds and a hopeful vet telling us we would have six months. We got two weeks. Fourteen fucking days. He was my heart, not part of it but the whole damned thing. So yes, I get it, every bit of it. I see you, I hear you and I hurt with you. Sometimes the best thing is knowing that there are others out there feeling exactly what you’re feeling and I’m over here hoping you can find your way out. It’s not going to be fast, it’s going to suck for a long time and then it will still suck at the weirdest moments and time does not heal it, screw all the people who told me that. I had an angel living here on Earth with me and he was ripped away and like you, it wasn’t fair that the sun even came up the next day. You aren’t alone, even though it’s going to feel like you are. Just know that you’re in my thoughts and yes…in my prayers as well.

   Kristie on 06.19.20 @ 2:24 am    Reply

When I found out what happened, my heart broke into pieces. Unbelievable. Tears flowed, I ache for you both. I am 50 years old and I still have no idea how the universe can let such crappy things happen to good people and animals. I’m so very, very sorry.

The chances of this happening are so off the charts rare, we don’t see it happen here a lot, at least that we know about. I suspect it happens more than I’m aware of, but our members couldn’t find the strength to write about it as you did. Your bravery in sharing this awful tragedy and opening your heart about it speaks volumes about how much Akeela taught you. She instilled courage, wisdom and a wicked sense of humor into you it seems, and I have total confidence that she is watching you every step of the way as you manage the heartache of losing her physical presence.

I wish I had wise words that would bring you out of your grief, but I know there are none, it’s a path you will find on your own. But you will get there, in time. There is no other way that Akeela would have it. She was there at a time in your life during your most formative years for a reason, she had purpose on this planet. She molded you into the awesome tattooed motorcycle chick that you are and her wisdom will last you a lifetime. That is her greatest gift and her legacy which cancer will never, ever steal from you. To have a teacher like her is such a gift, one that many people do not have the privilege of having for a long time, if ever.

Grief is a hard thing to navigate. Eventually there will be a way out, and along the way you can always lean on us. I understand if you don’t want to come back here and post, but just know that we are always ready to listen and relate, if you want to talk.

My heart goes out to you and if I was in NoCo as I usually am this time of year, I would give you a giant huge hug. I’m just so very sorry.

We send all our love to you and thank you so much for your honesty in sharing this experience. It was not the ending any of us expected but it is reality and by sharing what happened you are doing a service for others in the future, by helping them prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Thank you so much.

P.S. I had to smile when you mentioned the motorcycle. I also hid mine from my parents for nearly two years.

   jerry on 06.19.20 @ 4:47 pm    Reply

Oh sweetie – i feel your pain. This is exactly how i felt losing my Applesauce. My heart was / is broken – never to be the same. Time will help but the scars remain. I still sleep with her collar and still have the rugs down around my house. Love and light Akeela – she’s with you constantly- look and watch and look for the signs. Sending hugs and healing energies. It’s a pain like nothing else. Be well.

   Nancy on 06.23.20 @ 4:41 pm    Reply

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