This morning, J and I had to put Cohen to sleep. It is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do. I have had dogs my whole life, but I was never the one in this position.
It felt fast, it felt horrible, but it felt like the right thing to do for Cohen.
The basic timeline was this…
Two+ weeks ago we noticed that Cohen had a lump on the side of his ribs. He was very skinny, thin fur and white, so we could see most everything on his skin.
Honestly, when I first saw the lump, I didn’t think much of it. It didn’t bother him when I touched it and he was acting 100% normal. My Mom and step Dad were in town when we really noticed the lump and we all thought that the vet should take a look at it.
I took Cohen to the vet on Friday morning, 1/4. The vet said that she wasn’t sure what it was. She aspirated the lump and it was bloody – she still wasn’t sure what it was (or wasn’t willing to speculate, maybe), but she felt it should probably be removed. J took Cohen in on 1/5 for blood work to ensure that everything else was normal and that he could have surgery. On 1/5, his red cell count was 57% – in the high normal range.
Last Friday, Cohen was scheduled for an appointment to do a check to ensure that everything was fine before surgery – originally scheduled for Wednesday this week.
[Why there was so much back and forth, I’ll never know, but at this point really doesn’t make a bit of difference.]
On Friday, the vet aspirated again and again confirmed that it was bloody and that Cohen would still need the surgery.
On Sunday a little bit and on Monday a lot (yesterday), Cohen just wasn’t acting like himself. I wrote about this yesterday before I took him to the vet.
Yesterday we got to the vet around 4:30PM and the vet agreed that he wasn’t the same as he was last Friday. The vet took his blood again and was able to run the test right there — this time, though, his red blood cells were at 36%, much lower than a week or so prior. “This doesn’t look good, Mara”.
I can’t remember whether it was blood then x-ray or visa versa, but originally, they were going to do x-rays before surgery, when he could have been sedated, but she decided to do one yesterday to see what was going on. The x-ray looked clear, at least in the chest area. Given the blood concerns, she asked me if I wanted to do an ultra sound, which would allow her to see in the abdomen. I guess x-rays are blurry in that area because there’s a pile of organs there.
Of course I agreed to the ultrasound.
The next thing I know, the doctor came back to the room without Cohen. She looked distraught and told me that the news wasn’t good. Cohen had blood in his abdomen. She told me that there is usually no fluid there and then she showed me the ultrasound – full of fluid.
That’s when she asked me what I wanted to do. I had the option to take him to the emergency vet where he could have invasive surgery (emergency vet because he would have needed to be somewhere with blood on hand), euthanize him right then or take him home.
I called J, who was at work downtown and we agreed that we wanted Cohen to come home for the night, knowing that the decision was inevitable.
Through tears, I talked to the vet and she warned me that he could live for another couple of days / weeks (depending on if his blood loss slowed) or he could die over night and that I needed to be prepared.
The doctor gave me information about the emergency vet in the event that I needed to take him there over night. We talked about what signs of discomfort would look like and how I would know it was time. We agreed that if all went well, we’d see her again first thing this morning.
Cohen and I got home last night at close to 7PM. We came upstairs, he laid in his favorite bed and I stayed close until J got home a bit later. He was uninterested in eating and drinking, but he did enjoy a piece of turkey and a string cheese – this dog was going to get whatever he wanted, rules about people food be damned.
We snuggled upstairs for a good while and then I realized that I needed to calm down a bit. I went downstairs to take a hot shower and, like always, he followed me down. He rested in his bed while I showered and then we cuddled some more.
The three of us were up most of the night. Two of us were crying and one of us was enjoying lots of extra pets and snuggles.
In typical Cohen fashion, he wasn’t a bother. He was pretty much comfortable all night, getting a bit more restless as the sun came up.
It’s hard to get going when you know where you’re going, but at 7:45 J and I knew that we had to do what was necessary. We tried to go for one more “family walk”, but even after herding us out the door in his usual interested manner, it was evident that Cohen didn’t really want to walk anywhere.
We put Cohen, his favorite blanket and me in the back seat and J drove us to the vet. Cohen looked out the window the whole time, accepting intermittent pets from me and J.
When we got to the vet, they were expecting us and we went right into an exam room. J and I sat on the floor and put Cohen’s blanket between us. After sniffing around the room for a very short time, Cohen came and laid between us with his head in my lap.
The vet came in and we had a good talk, cried and signed the paperwork that would agree to the procedure. She was incredibly informative, supportive and considerate – I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
She left the room to go get the drugs – 1 shot to make Cohen comfortable and then an IV that would put him to sleep.
Many more tears were shed, but Cohen seemed pretty content – just giving kisses, otherwise fairly uninterested.
When the vet came back, she again explained what she would do and how Cohen would respond. We told her we were ready.
After the first shot, it took about a minute for Cohen to get droopy. He was leaning against my leg and I could tell that it was getting harder for him to keep his head up.
The vet left the room to give us time with him while the medicine kicked in. J and I petted and kissed that dog like crazy. We told him over and over again what a good dog he was and how much we loved him.
About 10 minutes later she came back in and said that he was acting exactly the way he should – basically unbothered. She lifted Cohen’s leg and put in the IV. At this point, I was just thankful that he was so peaceful. He stopped breathing, just as she said he would, before she even finished the injection.
No more worry (for him or us).
No more pain (if he had been in pain).
We gave Cohen a bunch more pets, a few more kisses, told him we loved him, and we left.
I like to think that he’s having a ball, playing fetch to his hearts content.
That was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do, but I am so glad that we were with him through the whole thing – I think he knew we were there and that’s why he wasn’t nervous.
When we got home, we had a few minutes of mourning and then we cleared out Cohen’s toys, beds, coats, etc. The thought of seeing his stuff everywhere made us feel sick, so we just wanted it out.
That dog had a lot of stuff.
The house feels very empty and I feel like I am missing my favorite shadow.
I know that he knows how much he was loved. We too know how much we were loved. Cohen was one amazing pup and he will forever have a piece of our hearts. In some ways, we think that Cohen saved us, not visa versa.
RIP Cohen, you were my best boy, my Cocobeans, Coconuts, lovebug.
We are missing you terribly.