Saying goodbye....

Aug 27, 2006
5,842
75
Seattle, WA
I haven't posted in the Animalicious! forum for quite some time, but today, I wanted to share my story with, well, as many people as possible.

Harley was a 13.5 year-old german shepherd/rotweiler. I adopted him at 4 mos. and 45 lbs. in 1997 out of foster care. His mother was a stray... a pregnant, german shepherd, and no where to go. His foster mom, Elizabeth, whelped the pups to health and adopted them out. Harley was the last of the litter. Of course, he was not named Harley at the time. He was "Rowdy". It should have been a warning but I could not resist the confident, handsome pup that he was. I will never forget the trip home. From the back of my Honda Civic hatchback, he put his left paw on my shoulder, pulled himself forward and showered me with kisses. He was not without faults - he did eat a pair of diamond earrings (!!! - and, yes, I did look...) & chew holes in my walls of epic proportions. However, when I adopted him, I made a promise, I was his "forever home". Over time, he settled in, and we developed our own rhythm, and had many, delightful adventures together. (Rides, dog parks, etc.)

In the past month, Harley had been sick with an upper respiratory infection; after one round of antibiotics, last week, we went back to the vet and, I called out the fact that his lymph nodes were swollen. With "Dr. B", we discovered all his lymph nodes were afflicted. We decided to aspirate & also x-ray his heart and lungs. Nothing suggested pneumonia, so off with another round of anti-biotics, and waiting for the results.

Last Wednesday, I learned that Harley had Lymphoma. He had been declining over the prior days - refusing food and even the Metacam that tastes of honey & is meant to help with the arthritis in his knees. Discussions with his vets, and possibilities for treatment of lymphoma were explored. I read up on the WSU website and considered all the options.

I spoke with my Dad, a hospice chaplain, who offered so many words of wisdom as I came to terms with the reality that Harley would not recover from this illness.

On Friday morning, I decided that a course of chemotherapy may give him six months more with me in this life, but the ancillary illness (nausea, etc.) was more than I wanted him to bear. I also decided I would simply spoil him with his favorite things - salmon (oh-mon-dieu the drool!), peanut butter & lots of love.

Saturday was a bit rough. I asked the vet for some medication to help soothe him and eliminate any pain he may be experiencing. The combination made him a bit like a drunken sailor and he struggled to stand. Harley was always committed to NEVER messing in the house...it was amazing as I watched him eventually WILL himself to head to the front door for a request to go "out."

Sunday was a "Good Day". Eating almost all of his food (specially prepared ground beef) and lots of treats (kong w/peanut butter & milk bones).

Then, today, Monday dawned. It was quickly apparent things were "off". Harley did not follow my boyfriend out of the room. He barely stirred. I cooked up ground beef and kibble and it was barely touched. A brief walk outside to eliminate was slow. His legs quivered, so difficult - trying so hard - and he stumbled. Losing strength. Weakened.

As I readied myself for work this morning, I realized the most humiliating thing for Harley would be having a mess in the house. And, I did not want my little bear to suffer. I wanted him to leave this life with Dignity. Respect. Love. All the things he had always known.

Today, my sweet, furry prince is off running in fields, fully restored to the health & vigor he once knew.

It was the most beautiful experience I have ever had in my life. He left this earth at home, courtesy of two angels, my dear friends Jennifer and Maria (Dr. B) who are veterinarians. Candles were lit, he had his kong stuffed with peanut butter, on his bed, in front of a fire, and his favorite radio station, KPLU, was playing jazz in the background.

My sister, Beth, left work to say goodbye and my boyfriend, Dexter was with us. Harley was surrounded by everyone who loved him so dearly.

He loved us all & we will be forever blessed for having him in our lives. He took his last breath with a jar of chunky peanut butter under his paw - spoiled rotten to the end.

In spite of my loss, today was a beautiful day - for all of us.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

Harley, 1997 - 2010
 
Mar 5, 2008
20,636
12
I literally teared up while reading this. It sounds like Harley lived a very happy life, and you were a good mommy to the end. :hugs:
 

grace04

^Love My Brit^
O.G.
Jan 1, 2009
2,223
2
In the middle
I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you can find comfort in the fact that he did not suffer, and was able to have dignity in his final moments. He is resting in peace now. :heart:
 

thimp

Loving my babies!!
Jul 19, 2007
3,139
69
Thank you for sharing us your love story. I am sorry for your loss. Rest in peace, little Harley.:heart:
 

Cindi

My baby, Bellis
O.G.
Aug 8, 2006
9,872
159
54
PA USA
What a wonderful life he had right up until the end. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing Harley with us. ((((HUGS))))
 

gsmom

Member
Feb 4, 2010
3,764
4
I think it's wonderful that he had such fulfillment in his life and you know he had such. It makes their passing, dare I say, less painful and more bittersweet.

RIP Harley. May the fields be endless and your chunky pb jar never empty.
 
Your story was very moving, and many of those that have lost in the recent and in the long term can relive again just how touching and devoted we are as parents, and how sometimes the parenting of the "furry children" is the hardest job of all... we have to be able to read minds, use our animal wisdom and intuition to catch on to things that they can't communicate to us as we would hope.

You were the best parent that your dog could have asked for, and you gave what could have ended up yet another stray puppy a chance at knowing love.

I know your heart is in pain, but it's only because you loved so much that it hurts that way.
 

pmburk

O.G.
Jul 10, 2008
8,036
3,430
Texas
I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Harley truly had a wonderful life right up until the very end. It was also wonderful to read about your selfless choice to end his suffering - many pet owners struggle with this and I am glad you were able to see past your own desire to have him around and put his feelings first.