When a family commits to care for a hospice dog, it is a very special thing. The relationship is like no other. Knowing time is limited and challenges are to be a part of eveyday life, it is a huge commitment. Archie spent almost 2 1/2 years in our program as an adored and loved member of his family.
From his Mom...
First, I want to say thank you for all of your kind words and condolences you’ve extended to me this week over Archie’s passing. It has been a very difficult past few days - I can’t tell you how many mini panic attacks I’ve had counting my dogs and thinking I have one unaccounted for before realizing Archie isn’t here, or how many times I’ve filled his dog bowl along with everyone else for meal time, or come home and look over the couch expecting to find him.
I didn’t really talk much on here about all of Archie’s issues but Archie had really been “day by day” for many months... really most of 2020. With every step of his decline I just continued to accommodate to meet his needs and we just continued to manage. It certainly wasn’t the lifestyle or quality of life of a “normal” dog, but that had never been the case for Archie who was far from normal- but as long as he was comfortable and content, we just figured things out together and we just made it work. He had no eyes and couldn’t hear which certainly brought on challenges, but he also had significant cognitive and neurological deficits and always struggled with mobility. Early to mid year he lost his ability to walk and then to stand. Again, we just figured things out - how to potty, how to clean him up, how he would drink, eat, etc. He depended on me for literally everything and I was at his beck and call 24/7 answering his barks which either meant he wanted to be repositioned, he wanted water, he wanted to be outside, or just wanted a “check in” to know we were all still with him and he wasn’t alone. He would bark (or rather howl) and we would go through the routine of trying different things until I figured out what it is he wanted. In his last week his barks expressed frustration and agitation and the things I knew to do to comfort him were no longer working. In his last days, he was unable to find a way to be comfortable at night and I desperately searched for ways I could help him, repositioning him all night long frantically trying to find something that worked. After several sleepless nights for us both, I knew this wasn’t something we could just manage or make work like everything else. He was exhausted and uncomfortable and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t help him. Ironically, just minutes before his medical team arrived to help him cross the bridge, he fell asleep in my lap. He never even acknowledged that they had arrived and didn’t even wake up when the sedative or euthanasia drug was administered. He literally just fell into the most peaceful eternal sleep there in my lap. I truly feel like he was telling me he was ready. After seeing him so agitated, frustrated, vocal, and uncomfortable, I could have never predicted that that is how it was going to go. It was truly a gift he gave me.
Archie faced more challenges than certainly any other dog that I have ever known. It hurt this mama’s heart on a daily basis to see his struggle and how unfair the world was for him. Archie had end stage glaucoma when he came to me which of course resulted in the removal of both of his eyes in October 2018 (the eye you see in photos of him is a prosthetic) after he he had underwent more eye procedures than I can count on my hand. He also had advanced intervertebral disc disease and the severe neurological deficits all which contributed to his inability to walk or stand. There was evidence of cancer in his latest chest radiograph which we feel very strongly originated as a brain tumor on the left side of his brain. He was emaciated although he was ravenous which further confirmed what we believe his diagnosis to be. Even early on at his best, he had no coordination or stability, big tremors and twitches, and always wanted to bend and go left. It certainly didn’t help that his world was completely dark and he had no idea where he was going. I was his eyes, his ears, his legs, his brain, his everything... and he was my baby who I loved and protected fiercely. He loved his siblings and his siblings loved him - they would rotate through nurse duty where they’d share his couch spot with him so he never felt like he was alone. He slept every night in the big bed which still has his bed rails up, and he woke us up every morning howling for his breakfast. He put up with my smothering kisses which he hated, and the ridiculous songs and dances I did with him in my arms while I would carry him outside. When I took Archie in 2 years and 3 months ago, I had no idea what kind of crazy ride we were in for but it was the honor and privilege of my life to have been his caregiver and his mom. I feel extremely fortunate to have had him in my life - my life is better because he was a part of it. We love and miss him deeply and sorely and I pray that after a good, long, much deserved rest he is now able to walk and hear and see 🙏🏻 It is still incredibly painful to think about all the days ahead without him, but taking things day by day.