Mischief Remembered

Yesterday I woke up to news that I thought I was prepared for, but when Juan told me that Mischief had vomited twice during the night, I suddenly realized that maybe I wasn’t ready to face the inevitable and make the decision to put down our loved family dog, Mischief.  But I knew it was time, and the funny thing is, I felt like she knew it was time too. Mischief’s eyes looked tired and her movements were sluggish. She was nearly 15 years old, and had been diagnosed with Cushings disease months ago, though the vet said she was not in any pain. We knew our days with her were numbered so we tried to enjoy the time we had left. In the last month her health declined even further. Juan took her to the vet 10 days ago and the doctor prescribed antibiotics for  a kidney infection, and put her on a special diet. A couple of days later it looked like she was improving, and then her condition changed. She vomited regularly. She seemed restless, like she couldn’t get comfortable. She lost more weight. When I woke up to the news on Saturday morning, I knew we had to say good-by to her.

Telling Diego that it was time to say good-bye to Mischief was difficult. We told him that she was sick and explained what was going to happen, that the doctor would give her a shot to make her go to sleep.  Diego cried and asked plainly, tearfully, “You mean she is going to die today?” I sat with him and we petted her together as he cried. He asked to go to our neighbor’s house so he could share with his friends the news, saying that he would ask them to say something nice about her. While Diego was next door, we told the other kids the news and they said good-bye to Mischief.  Then Juan and I left to the vet.

The doctor confirmed what we knew. She did another ultrasound and said Mischief’s organs were failing and her gall bladder appeared enlarged. She gave us a choice to leave or to stay with her as the sedative was administered, and the drug which would stop her heart was injected. Juan and I chose to stay. The doctor put in an IV and placed a flannel blanket on the cold stainless steel table. Juan and I stroked Mischief and talked to her, even though we knew she couldn’t hear us since she had gone deaf years ago. As soon as the sedative was given, she lay down and sighed. She appeared calm and I looked into her eyes. They appeared peaceful, ready for what was next. Juan and I stroked her head and looked into her eyes. We both cried as the vet administered the barbituate. As I watched Mischief’s eyes I saw the life go out of them. Her breathing stopped. I asked the vet if it was over and she said yes. The vet told us we could have as much time as we wanted with her, said there would be no charge for the day, and we would not have to stop at the reception area on the way out.  The doctor left Juan and I alone with our loved dog.  We said a prayer of thanksgiving for the life Mischief shared with us and then we left the room.  As we walked through the waiting room filled with animals and their families, everyone seemed to quiet upon seeing us leave, with swollen eyes, a leash in our hand, but without our dog. Without Mischief in our lives.


Mischief in my Life

This is Mischief.

Like a lot of parts of my life, Mischief showed up without being part of my “plan.” I always thought that I would someday have a puppy, maybe a golden retriever or a yellow labrador.  But Mischief is neither of those breeds. In fact, we are not certain what she is, part lab, part pit bull? And she certainly wasn’t a puppy when she joined our family 7 years ago. Mischief was the loved pet of our good friends, Jenn and Tom. Actually, Mischief was Tom’s dog. Tom rescued her from the streets when she was just a puppy. When Tom married Jenn he had to find a home for Mischief because Jenn was allergic to dogs. That’s where we came in. Juan and I were just married. It was a crazy time.  We were just beginning our blended family, and I really didn’t want to add something else to the mix, especially a dog.  But Juan always wanted a dog like Mischief. So, before I knew it, we added another member to our growing family.  She has been a wonderful addition.

When we took custody of Mischief she was already an adult dog but had the playfulness of a puppy, without the destructive chewing habits. She has been gentle with all our kids, yet fierce enough to cause the UPS man to reach for his pepper spray when he comes to our door.  She has had enough energy to outlast us in games of fetch, yet she is also content to sit lazily by and watch the squirrels run across our back fence. She also has this weird habit of putting her paw in her mouth, like she is sucking her thumb.

Over the last couple of years Mischief has begun to age. She has grayed around her muzzle. She moves stiffly and constantly needs to be let outside during the middle of night. We found out she has Cushings disease which causes her to be hungry, thirsty and grow tumors. It’s not pretty, but she is not sufferring. Until lately, when she has begun having difficulty keeping her food down,and she has begun losing weight.  I am afraid the end is near. Juan will take her to the vet tomorrow to hear her prognosis. I am not sure what to expect. But then again I didn’t expect her to be a part of my life in the first place.  I guess that’s just how how life, and death, can sometimes play out. Whatever happens, I am happy to have had Mischief in my life.