We learned at the end of February that Auggie had terminal metastatic cancer that had traveled to her lungs. As I wrote at the time, we didn't know whether we would have hours or days or weeks.
It turned out we got a month and a half with Auggie practically her old energetic self, enjoying walks and cuddles and treats. When she started slowing down again, started having trouble breathing again, I could tell we were almost out of time.
After an enthusiastic roll in the grass that last week was followed a few minutes later by Auggie falling over sideways and twitching for a moment, I was sure. Having fluid removed from her abdomen again might have given her a little more time again, but it really seemed we were beyond that.
I reached out to our vet. The world had changed dramatically since the end of February, and I knew most vets weren't letting owners in with their pets -- even, in many cases, for euthanasia. I'm grateful that Dr. Shakespeare gave me the option of coming in with Auggie, after hours. I scheduled that for Friday night, April 17th. (Dr. Shakespeare said she could even have paid a house call, but then I would've been responsible for taking care of Auggie's body myself.)
Auggie and Penny and Carter and I had one last wonderful day together, but her restless nights where she couldn't get comfortable, and her drowsiness that Friday, even without the Benadryl, let me know for sure that I had made the right decision. She was ready. We spent the day with one last romp at the orchard (more strolling and sniffing for Auggie), burgers for all, and a trio of marrow bones.
Kat joined me for that last vet visit. She's the one who had first taken Auggie in, in Texas, eleven years ago, and brought her to Ithaca from Texas. We all wore masks, of course, and Dr. Shakespeare explained what was going to happen, then helped Auggie beyond her pain and discomfort.
I guess it's a good thing it wasn't my first time seeing a dog euthanized. I had been with Molly when her little girl Gloria -- the snuffly little piglet who first convinced me pit bulls were a good idea -- was ready to say goodbye.
Three years and two months ago, Auggie came to stay with Penny and Carter and me while we worked on training and looked for her forever home.
It wasn't long before she made it clear she had found it.
Auggie's last month and a half was the best month and a half I could provide, full of love and cuddles and treats. The Coronavirus crisis meant I was home almost 24/7 for her last few weeks. That extra time was priceless.
Penny and Carter were obviously confused and upset for a few days, and Penny peed in the house several times. They've both gotten lots of extra cuddles, not to mention extra walking.
The phone call from the vet last Friday that Auggie's ashes had come in and were ready for me to pick up hit me harder than I expected. I went down that afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful wooden box they gave me.
Auggie is home. And Penny and Carter and I will be OK.