I’ve gotten a divorce. I’ve been sued. I’ve been in car accidents, translated insurance forms, and signed leases. I’ve worked overtime. I’ve collected unemployment. But the most grownup thing I’ve ever had to do, by far, was agree to let my dog go this morning.
Yesterday, Marley was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia. This is an autoimmune disease that caused her red blood cells to attack one another. In short, her body was trying to kill itself. She’d apparently had this all her life and it just happened to explode right then.
Dogs with IMHA don’t stand much of a chance. By the time it’s evident, most of the damage has already been done. The standard treatment is steroids, IV drips, and blood transfusions. Sometimes surgery. But even with longterm hospitalization and multiple transfusions, there’s only a 30-50% survival rate. Graham and I don’t have unlimited time or resources, and we know that Marley can’t stand to be away from us for days at a time. So when her cell count dropped dramatically after the first day of treatment, we made the decision to put her to sleep.
I’ve had Marley for the past two years and nine months. She was Graham’s dog first, but I fell in love with her months before I fell in love with him. It was impossible not to. Marley had the perfect size, shape, softness, and loveness to curl up next to. I used to tell Graham that my favorite moments were when we both woke up on weekends and hung out with Marley in bed.
Eventually, Marley was mine and Graham’s dog. It was never a matter of “I don’t want to take her out, you do it,” it was “I got home first, I’m letting her out. I woke up first, I’m feeding her. I’m sitting on the couch right now, I’m throwing the Kong for her.” I always went to bed before Graham, so she’d jump up on the bed and lay down in his spot, her butt curled up against my side, and sigh like she’d had the most exhausting day. She’d usually wind up positioning herself horizontally across the bed until Graham got home, at which time she’d run across my stomach to go outside with him. She’d fall asleep again at the foot of the bed, and in the morning, she’d jump back up and force us to scratch her belly and smell her breath.
Marley had terrible breath. It was like feet and ass. She also farted a lot, occasionally looking at her butt like it had betrayed her. Marley had a licking problem, which means that if you had exposed skin, she wanted to lick the varnish off of it. She cuddled. A lot. She waited in the window for us to come home, practically levitated with excitement when we walked into the room, and always always always made everyone else love her.
It was extremely hard to let her go today. When we first found out she was sick, we cried and Graham said, “she was supposed to get old and slow.” When we made the decision, she laid between us on a couch. She licked my hand at first, and then fell asleep almost immediately after getting the anaesthetic. We both held her head. Then she closed her eyes. I petted that little curl behind her super-soft ears. Graham thanked her for being such a good dog.
Not totally correct — she was an excellent dog.