Trigger Warnings: Talk of illnesses, animal death, self-harm mention
So I guess I should finally talk about what’s been going on in my life.
So early in January, my dog Ginger, who we got when I was 5 years old, passed away. I’ve talked about it before. It was hard, but I’ve fully recovered from that whole ordeal. It was her time. Just the look in her eyes said that she was ready to go.
Then we tried to get a new puppy, and it went horribly. Our other dog Dakota really doesn’t know how to be a proper dog. We’re pretty sure he grew up without seeing any other dog for a good long time. He’d harass the shit out of the puppy Tootsie by breathing down her neck all the time and sneering at her. Logically, she’d get tired of his shit and beat the crap out of him. It got to the point where we were afraid that she’d freaking kill him. It was hard sending her back… She finally got a taste of cozy living, got really attached to me, and then we had to send her back. Sent her back to a “holding zone” too, since the kennel was horribly overcrowded. That means that she wouldn’t be able to be seen and adopted until she got her space back in the actual kennel. I wonder if she ended up getting a good home. She was such a good puppy… It wasn’t her fault, it was Dakota’s.
Things went alright for a while after that, but a few months ago everything started to fall apart. Dakota started getting really sick. So many vet visits… and we just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. We thought it was cancer at first because of spindle cells in his swollen lymph nodes, but now it seems like that’s not it. Now our current theory is something called bartonella, but the tests for bartonella take forever to process and are notoriously inaccurate. We’re STILL waiting on those damn tests, but we’ve been treating him like he has it to see if he improves. He’s not doing too well on the medicines. He’s a bit better at the moment, but before he was puking so much that he was vomiting up blood because of the stress on his stomach and esophagus. He’s tired all the time. He’s not strong enough to go on walks anymore. He won’t eat anything half the time. He feels like a different dog. He can’t be enjoying his life very much at this point. It just feels like he’s on his final decline.
While Dakota was being sick, my hedgehog Hiccup started behaving strangely too. He wasn’t running or eating, and he was losing a lot of weight. He went to the vet twice. The first time, he just got some pain killers. He responded alright, and he seemed to stabilize for a while. A month later, he relapsed and got much worse. He wasn’t eating a single bite of anything, he was lethargic, and he had a sniffly, runny nose. He went back into the vet to be anesthetized and examined, but there was nothing outwardly wrong with him. To see if there were any other issues, the vets tried several times to get blood from a vein around his throat, but to no avail. They called me to ask if they should try to get blood from a vein near his heart, but it would be risky. Just a slightly wrong angle and they’d hit his heart and likely kill him. I figured with my luck at that point that it would be best not to even try. My luck would only get worse after this. However, after another week of pain medication, Hiccup has made almost a full recovery. I’m really hoping he stays that way. It’s so nice to see him acting normal again. It’s possible he just has a bit of arthritis, but who knows? We didn’t get conclusive results.
About the same time Hiccup was getting sick, I got a bad ear infection. With all the stress in my life right now, it seems my immune system has taken a vacation. I feel just constantly terrible for one reason or another. Infections, bloody sores all over my skin, trouble with wounds not scabbing right, the looming threat of borderline diabetes. But at least I’m not going to die from any of my issues. My pets are another story.
Now it’s time for the real heart stab. For my cat Snickers, it seemed to start one night; she ate a bunch of plastic bag that I had left out. A few days later, I noticed I hadn’t been cleaning any poos out of her litterbox, and she stopped eating. We immediately feared intestinal blockage. We took Snickers into the vet to get X-rays, and it turns out she was just constipated and dehydrated. We were going to get this sort of laxative oil to help her out, but they were sold out. Turns out this is a common issue for older cats in the summertime. But this sounds all good, right? We’d get her some medicine and she’d go poo and start eating again and all would be swell. I wish. I really wish it turned out that way…
On the 22nd of this month, I barely saw Snickers all day, when she’s normally glued to my side. She was hiding under my sister’s bed all day. Not eating, not moving, nothing. We assumed she was just feeling bad and wanted to be alone to recover. It’d be fine, we thought. On the 23rd at 3:30am, Snickers was in my closet and I noticed she was breathing heavily. She was drooling and she seemed dazed. I got my Mom and we got ready to go to the emergency vet. Once we got into the car, Snickers started rasping. This gurgled kind of painting… She was yowling in pain and maybe fear too. I just had this awful gut feeling… Like, looking at her and listening to her cry made me so uncomfortable and worried to the point I felt like I was going to puke. My mom was just kind of talking casually in the car. She said she thought that this would just be yet another treatment and an overnight stay and we’d get her fixed up. I… did not share those thoughts.
As we went on, Snickers’ breathing started to get shallow. She was thrashing about and still crying. As we passed street lights, I could see her huge, dilated eyes. The looks she gave me were just pleading. She was pleading for me to help her. She was in pain and afraid. Once we arrived at the parking lot of the vet, she gave one final thrash and cry, and then she went still. We rushed her in, but her heart had stopped. They tried CPR, but nothing was working. I’m pretty sure she died in the parking lot right in front of me. The CPR was just circulating blood… she wasn’t living anymore. She died of congestive heart failure.
I didn’t even realize how much that cat meant to me until she died. She was always by my side. She slept with me every night. She’d give me loving head-butts and purr so sweetly. She really loved me. I’d always thought that I just wasn’t the type of person to get lonely since I’m very introverted, but I was wrong. Snickers was keeping me company all this time. The upstairs of my house is so empty now... It’s dead… Sure, Hiccup’s up here, but he sleeps all day. He doesn’t actively seek my company. That’s just how hedgehogs are and I’m totally fine with that, but I want a pet that wants me too.
I’m just a wreck… All my depression and negative habits are returning. I’ve been cutting myself a bit since I feel like I need to. I’ve literally cried myself sick. I’m not coping very well with this at all. We’re still grieving over Snickers and at the same time we’re worried that Dakota will soon follow in her footsteps. We started this year with four pets. We might end it with only one.
I just don’t even know where to start coping with this.