Jilly Posted June 19, 2019 Report Share Posted June 19, 2019 We lost our Little Bear on Monday. She was a dear little girl, only 10 years old and she came down with an illness we were never able to definitively identify after two vets and many visits. Repeated blood tests were normal. X-rays revealed nothing. The best they could tell us was "cognitive canine disorder" similar to Alzheimers in adults. She didn't appear to be in any pain, but this once joy-filled little dog that was so full of love and zest for life no longer wagged her tail at all, or enjoyed anything she used to...she just slept and ate. It broke our hearts to see her like this. She had the heart of a puppy and had always met us with wiggles and wags--like she hadn't seen us in a week, even when we'd only been gone five minutes. She often laid next to us, but was like a little toddler...never wanting to be held, always wanting to play. For the last couple of months she barely lifted her head when we came home. She slept on our chests for hours at a time, snuggling under our chin and pressing her check to our lips for kisses. Our son suffers from a medical condition and she has been the light in his life through the years of struggles he's faced. He was devastated watching her decline and we took her to multiple vets looking for an answer. She started to become confused, staring at the carpet and walls, seemed to forget how to drink so we mixed water in with food we cooked and prepared at home. The last vet we took her to said she could live for a long time like this and he was sorry he couldn't do anything more. He was grateful she was eating and said that was the main concern. He said this was the new normal for her and we would never have the dog back that we once had. It was hard to hear that but it helped us move forward and let go of pouring hundreds and hundreds of dollars we didn't have into tests that didn't reveal anything. He gave us medicine to try for the cognitive disorder but we didn't see a difference, she was still on it when we lost her. It was hard to think of her living like this for years, but we also couldn't bear to put her to sleep since she didn't appear to be in pain. I did research on canine cognitive disorder and read one source that said dogs with CCD lived longer than dogs without it, one possible reason being that they visited the vet more often. We missed our joy-filled Little Bear but we realized this was going to be our new normal and we were going to love her just as much and make her as comfortable as possible. We had deaths in our extended family over the past two years that were untimely and devastating, and in the wake of those deaths, we accepted an invite to go on vacation with our extended family. For months we planned a once in a lifetime vacation. It gave those grieving something to focus on and look forward to. In the meantime, Little Bear started showing symptoms, and was diagnosed with CCD. We hated the thought of leaving her to go on vacation. She had always come with us but it would be impossible for her to make this trip. Since she wasn't in pain we thought she would be okay if we left her in the care of a trusted family member who lives a few hours away and who is nurturing and loving. We pictured them snuggled for hours together. She had always loved going to their home since she was a puppy and knew them by name. We knew this was the best place she could be while we were gone. We were gone two weeks. We missed her everyday and couldn't wait to get home to pick her up. Our son said over and over again how much he couldn't wait to see her. We felt the same way. There were several sick people that we were exposed to on our way home from vacation and our son and I picked something up...by the evening of our return, we were both sick. I didn't want to expose the couple who watched Little Bear to whatever we had, so my husband made the trip to pick her up alone. That night, I Face-timed him and saw Little Bear sleeping on his chest. I couldn't wait to hold her again and tell her how much I love her. But that night, the unthinkable happened. The couple had been letting Little Bear out on their fenced in and gated deck to go to the bathroom. They felt it was less confusing for her than going in the grass and said they just rinsed the deck off after she went to the bathroom. So that night, my husband let her out on the deck. The deck wraps around two sides of their house. There are several bird feeders on the deck and in the past, we've seen raccoons at the feeders at night. There haven't been raccoons there in a couple of years, but my husband didn't know this. As our Little Bear paced for a place to go to the bathroom on the deck, my husband decided to make sure there weren't any raccoons lurking around the corner of the deck that might surprise her. He walked around the side of the deck to make sure the feeder was clear and it was. When he turned back around, Little Bear was gone. He said he couldn't have looked away for more than 7 seconds. It was raining hard. He quickly looked around the deck and she was no where to be found. He thought she may have walked through the slats of the deck so he jumped the gate and ran to the area below the deck. They have a walkout basement and it would've been a 10 foot fall for her. He looked all around and couldn't find her. He yelled for help and the couple watching her brought flashlights and called the sheriff. Within 1-2 minutes of her disappearing, three people with flashlights were looking for her. Under bushes, through the lawn, behind flowerpots and under cars. They live in a rural area with woods and ravine. The sheriff and my husband searched the hill and ravine. The drove the neighborhood and searched the properties of the surrounding homes. Neighbors joined the search. It was pitch dark and after two hours of looking in the rain, they called off the search. My husband and a couple people looked again in the morning. They never found her. My husband called me with the news the morning after she disappeared. When I assured him it wasn't his fault, he broke down crying like I've only heard him cry once before in over two decades of marriage. I could imagine the panic he had gone through and my heart broke for him. I felt in my heart she had died and that there was nothing more he could do to find her. There are numerous coyotes in the area and owls. I felt in the seven seconds my husband was checking for raccoons, an animal took her. I couldn't imagine her pushing through slats on the fence and falling over the side and no one finding her. They were searching with flashlights within a couple minutes, the only delay being that my husband started looking even before that, without a flashlight, while he called for help. Little Bear had been so weak and tired. When she came up against an obstacle, whether furniture or a wall, she would stop and stare at it, or turn around and start pacing. But now I can't stop thinking. What if she pushed through the slats and fell off the deck? I know they looked for hours and hours for her. Surely they would've found her? But maybe they missed a spot I would've found her in. I can't imagine what happened to her. I can't sleep at night thinking of where she might be or how she died. She was such a loving dog. The most loving dog I have ever known. She deserved so much better than this. I feel like I failed her. When we left her to go on vacation we knew she had CCD, but we thought she would live for years. While we were gone, the couple watching her said she declined even further but they didn't want us to know because we were out of the country and couldn't have gotten back any sooner. They said she seemed to lose her hearing completely and her eyesight was worse. She bumped into things. Would run into their legs and act like she was caught and couldn't get out. She paced constantly and only laid down when she was exhausted--but never let them hold her. The snuggling I had imagined never happened with them. How it breaks my heart to think of her anxious heart. Was she wondering where we went? My husband cried and told me he didn't want to tell me but when he got to the couple's house, Little Bear didn't know who he was. She didn't want him to hold her. I told him I saw her laying on his chest when we Face-timed but he said that was the only time she let him hold her. I keep thinking, what if I hadn't gotten sick and I'd gone with my husband to pick her up? Enough of the events of that night would've changed and she wouldn't have disappeared. Maybe I would've let her out in the grass. Or let her out earlier and an animal wouldn't have gotten her. Or I could've held her and told her l loved her and then when she went out that night she wouldn't have run away. She would've felt warm and safe. Was she afraid when she tried to get off the deck? Was she looking for us? Looking for cover from something that scared her? Looking for the car so she could go home? Was she just disoriented and she walked through the slats? Did she push her way through? But if she pushed her way through, the drop was ten feet. Wouldn't they have found her? Then it had to be an animal. An owl? A coyote? I don't know what happened to her! Seven seconds and she vanished. What if I had gone down to look for her the next day? Maybe if she had fallen off the deck I could've found her. But hours upon hours had been spent looking for her and I believed she was gone. Now I lay awake at night and am tormented during the day thinking what if...what if she is still out there? What if I could have found her but instead she died in the rain? Afraid and alone. If you think I could've done more, please don't tell me. I can't bear it. I didn't tell our kids or anyone else what really happened. Everyone knows how sick she was with CCD. We are telling people she died overnight before my husband could bring her home. No one has questioned that she died overnight or how she died. She was a shell of her former self. We can never tell our kids what really happened. Because of our son's medical condition, the stress of hearing the devastating news of how she disappeared could actually affect his health and we don't want to take the risk. He would wonder, as we do, is she still out there suffering in the woods? Did an animal take her and she died that way? No matter how we look at it, she died a terrible death or is dying one now. She was a tiny thing...less than ten pounds. I can't imagine she is still alive. And yet I wonder. And my heart breaks for her. I just can't stand the thought of her being out there. The couple that watched her thinks we are terrible for not telling our kids and have told us that repeatedly. They feel we are putting them in a position of lying. We tell them we just aren't sharing all the facts. We believe she has died. What good will come from sharing about her disappearing? We are tormented as adults. What would knowing the circumstances do to our kids except torment them as well? Risk our son's health? Our daughter has cried until her eyes are practically swollen shut. Right now they believe she is gone, died from causes they haven't even asked about because they saw her decline. In their minds they know why she died without us saying a word. A dog friend is buried on the couple's property. They think she is buried next to him and that is the one fact we made up. But she is probably on the property somewhere. She will never come home and that breaks all of our hearts. We had to provide an explanation for that and the kids never questioned it...only cried that they wished she would've died at home so should could be buried here. It is a burden not to be able to share my torment with anyone. It's why I'm writing this. The couple that watched her and my husband are the only ones that know the anguish of how she was lost. The couple makes me feel bad every time I've talked to them because they keep telling me I'm lying and they feel it's the wrong thing not to tell the kids she vanished and we don't know where she is exactly or how she died, or even if she is really dead. I can't imagine she isn't. There are only a handful of neighbors spread out over acres and acres of woods. And my husband's heart is broken enough without me telling him how upset I am not knowing where she is. He always took such good care of her. Stood outside with her every time she went to the bathroom in our yard, and we live in a suburban area. He was always afraid a coyote or hawk might get her. He spent seven seconds checking for raccoons so they didn't harm her, he turned around, and she was gone. My poor husband. He is devastated. I can't tell friends because I'm too afraid someone will slip up and say something. I am going to take the circumstances of her death to my grave. Except here. I'm thankful that here I can share what happened with strangers...strangers who are somehow more than that because they know the grief of losing a pet they love. Our children are out of the home at the moment and it's the first time I've been able to really break down and cry about the terrible way she left us. I've read about dogs going off to die. Maybe she did that. But if she did, I believe it was because she was afraid and confused, not to spare our feelings. I just can't believe she is gone. And I can't believe she left this way. We owed her more than this. I wish I could go back and give her a comfortable transition...put her to sleep in my arms. Warm and safe in her own home. I looked into that option so I would be prepared if the time ever came. Prepared to have someone come to our house, versus taking her to the vet to be put to sleep. I wanted her to feel as loved and safe as possible if and when the time came. I thought she would live for years. Content. Not happy--as much as we wanted that for her. Not in pain. But content eating and sleeping and being loved by her family for several more years. I thought confusion is no reason to put her to sleep. The vets never even suggested it. They were happy she was eating. They said CCD is fairly common and we just needed to know that she won't be the same as she was before. But I think it may have been something else. Something they missed. How else could she have declined so rapidly? We will never know but I wish with all my heart that we could go back in time and spare her this terrible ending to her precious life. I just hope and pray she is already free from the confines of her body. That she went as quickly and as painlessly as possible. That somehow she was at peace when she passed. And I'm crying again because I know our sweet little bear didn't go peacefully in the rain on the dark night she vanished. Dear God, please help me bear this pain. Please, I pray, may our Little Bear be with you now. I am thankful for the gift that she was in our lives. I'm thankful to anyone who made it to the end of this post with compassion in their hearts for the pain we are in. If no one did, it still helped my heart to write it. May all who are grieving be blessed with peace. And if you are reading this, may you remember the blessing of the time you were able to share with those you love. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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