I wrote this between 12:51 AM and 1:25 AM this morning.
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This may or not get published. I'm awake after getting a couple hours of restless sleep. I'm writing this as a tension release.
China has had labored breathing off and on all day. It sounds as if her lungs had fluid in them, sort of a gurgling sound. Right now, she is asleep and breathing easily. I woke perhaps 45 minutes ago with an awareness that she had been breathing heavily for a while, as if I was hearing her as I dozed. I rested my hand on her side, to love her and to comfort her. Or maybe to comfort myself.
As she seemed to ease up, she fell asleep. I tried to go back to sleep, but all I could do is hear the dogs' breathing. Two or three of them were breathing in irregular patterns, perhaps dreaming, and alternately two or three were snoring softly. I got a book to read and managed to get through a chapter, but still with an ear to China's breath and the others in the background.
Then Max began his "talking" to me, very softly, obviously trying to get my attention. I spoke to him several times, telling him to "rest." But he kept it up, and I eventually decided that he might be asking to go out. When I opened the crate that he is sharing with Sam, I noticed that Sam was panting, so I let them both out. Max didn't go anywhere, but Sam had a drink and then flopped on his tummy on the cool tiles. I gave him a few minutes, then put them both back in the crate. He seemed to be hot, but it is cool in the bedroom. Right now it is just 64°, cool enough that I have a warm robe around me.
Max continued to moan and groan, woof and whine softly. I asked if he wanted to go outside, and his tail started waving. And my this time Joey and Jaz are both awake in the other crate, too. I decided to just take them all out. But once out, they all laid down in the grass or just sat and looked at me. Back inside, they got drinks and we went back to bed. Max was still restless, so I turned on some music, and he finally settled down. At this point everyone is asleep, except me, of course.
I found myself wondering if Max, or Sam, for that matter, are aware of China's difficulty. Are they telling me to be alert? Are they feeling her discomfort? Or is it all one weird coincidence? I think dogs, in fact all animals, have a sixth sense by which they recognize emotions of the others. Did they know I wasn't sleeping deeply as usual, and sense my concern? I don't know.
I've had some "borrowed time" with China. She wasn't expected to live this long. I thought she would be gone several weeks ago. I've cherished the extension and the joy she seemed to have in her life with The Boys in the house. I got to see her scamper around with them and boss them around like a proper older sister. But not at any time did I think this would go on forever.
I've been preparing myself as well as one can. Her time may not be right now, tonight, but I'm sure it isn't far off. I pray that when it is time, she can go quickly. I know that her doggy momma, Mai Lin, and her baby sister, Margarita, as well as her cat buddies, Tigger and Echo will be there for her when she crosses the rainbow bridge. What a sweet girl she is. Oh, man. I wish we could keep them forever.
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Just a bit ago, I wrote this:
Oh, wow, what a difference a day makes.
My China's little body is giving up. She began heavy breathing yesterday, but it seemed to be intermittent, so I didn't really think about it. Shih Tzu sometimes have some breathing issues if they sniff something into their noses or throats, and China is a sniffer. And she was acting about the same as always, not seeming to be in pain or anything of the sort. But last night, I noticed when we went to bed that it was consistent and had a different sound to it. It definitely sounded gurgly, as if she had water in her lungs a sure sign of the body shutting down.
All night long I kept waking to her labored breathing. She didn't seem to be in pain and even now she seems to be only mildly uncomfortable if that. When we got up to go outside this morning I noticed a little spot of blood on the bedspread. The tumor is trying to abscess again. That can cause discomfort, of course.
I called the clinic and found out that the doc is going out of town for the long weekend. There is a vet on call for him, but I have mixed feelings about her. If I need to have China put down, I would so rather have our own familiar, compassionate vet do it. After a long talk with the vet, I initially decided to treat the abscess with antibiotics which would relieve any discomfort she has there, and observe and think for the next 24 hours to decide about the next step. Now later I'm thinking that my plan is wrong, because she won't feel much relief for at least 24 hours with the antibiotic, and I could be complicating the inevitable decision and outcome.
I had hoped that when the time comes I could just keep her here at home and hold her while she passed.
It isn't supposed to be this complicated. Although she is acting pretty much like herself in most ways, I doubt she will last more than 48-72 hours, and that puts us past the docs departure. I would have to deal with her body until next Tuesday when he is back to arrange the cremation. I don't think I could do that.
China and Joey
Right now I'm on the couch with her. Joey has curled up right beside her for the past hour, and for part of that Jazi was next to him. Now Sam has taken that spot with Jaz on the back of the couch and Max behind her. Ali in on the floor at my feet. He has spent the last hour and half bringing me toys to throw, almost as if trying to get my mine off the situation.Sam has been extremely rambunctious today, and I finally had to tell him to "chill. That's when he laid down with us. They all seem to be comforting her or perhaps me. Amazing creatures, these little guys.
I'll let you know when I can make a decision, and otherwise, it is unlikely I'll be posting much for today. I really hate this. Say a prayer for us both, please, a prayer for her painless passage and for me, strength.