The post below, “LOVE..” is taken from my personal journal written in June 2011 after the passing of my beloved dog, Prissy (a.k.a Fluffball) on 27th May 2011. More than a year has passed since Prissy has left us and still, this journal entry never fails to leave a tear in my eye. She has left behind a legacy in our lives…
Whilst the world continues to evolve, changes follow. My friends have continued to “grow up” and I would hear yet another arrival of a bundle of joy. The most significant and recent was V’s cute and chubby little baby boy that was finally born about a month ago after a few days’ of delay. A new addition, another new life chapter…
So here we are, many of us in our early thirties, having moved on from our wild twenties of social and sexual experimentation to a more settled life. Some have “come of age” becoming cluckier, embracing motherhood more readily than others, unlike myself.
Motherhood must be an amazing journey I figured. I see friends setting up blogs devoted to sharing about their pregnancies, newborn babies, children and family lives. It’s that natural instinct to love and celebrate this special experience and maternal bond and share it with others. Long lost friends who are mothers started keeping in touch and exchanging baby tips with one another, a new camaraderie formed.
So here I am Down Under hearing about all these baby news back home vicariously through the Facebook and internet. I feel happy for my friends but I don’t feel quite as connected. But I think I did understand why pregnancy and motherhood are such a big deal- because mothers make it a big deal and they do so simply because it is an instinctive thing to do when they are in love and excited about the arrival of the life they have created.
I have never like children too much but I have always been a maternal character in my own way through my need to provide and protect. It is apparent in the way I love my dogs- the need to give them the best. So each day, I couldn’t stop talking about my dogs to my only colleague who has to listen to my repeated “top 5 stories”(as she would put it) about how beautiful and pretty my dogs were and how much I miss and love them. And when I got home, I would greet them with cuddles and kisses and wonder how anyone could have abandoned my two lovely girls at the pound, only to be found by J and I. Finders keepers and how lucky can we get. I am ever so thankful and I often tell the Fluffball when we only had her how much we love her and then I would asked her aloud on what were mum and dad to do when she was gone.
So the day did come 4 weeks ago. We had to make the hard decision to let her go. Two weeks prior, we had admitted her to the emergency after she had lost a fair bit of weight and no amount of dental and personal grooming could get rid of this strange and foul breath unlike her usual bad breath. When she vomited the water that she had just drank and I detected foam whilst we were at the cafe with Ted on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, I knew that the vet visit couldn’t wait till Monday.
We were glad we didn’t. The vet said it was renal failure at the late stage. We were to leave the hospital without her that night as she would be put on fluids, having lost 30% of her weight and being severely dehydrated. The vet advised that she could not have waited another day. If the blood results were not too great and the intravenous fluids were not going to work, we would have to prepare ourselves for the worst.
The bombshell was dropped. J and I stood in the room shocked. My tears couldn’t stop streaming down my face. J suppressed any emotion and pain on his end to prevent me from spiralling into hysteria. I felt that stab or multiple stabs of pain in my heart. We went home without our dog that night.
They say a mother’s love for her child is the greatest love of all. So there I was, helpless for that moment, I wished the Fluffball could take my kidney so that she could become well again. If only she could. I cried for an entire night but being the ever protective mother of my brood, I didn’t want to take the vet’s no cure verdict as the gospel. I couldn’t give the Fluffball a death sentence if I hadn’t tried. I wasn’t about to give up on my child. So I embarked on a journey of herbal and alternative therapies and treatments. I ordered a system of herbal treatments from the United States which J and I syringe administered four times religiously into her mouth each day. On top of that, we spent the remaining time cooking and freezing organic meals for our dogs and massaging therapeutic essential oils to both the Fluffball and Brandy as we weren’t taking any chances. We sacrificed sleep as new parents would do during feeding time just so we were feeding her the correct amounts of medication to put her back on track. I was all ready to drive inter-state to Sydney’s renown Chinese medicinal hall to buy the rarest and one of Chinese medicine’s most precious herb, Cordyceps at $1300 for 28g to cure her kidneys.
Things did look up for a while and Fluffball was regaining her appetite for more than a week. I took time out of work to provide the palliative care and J and I remained vigilant in her journey to recovery. Being the paranoid person that I was, Brandy also got her bloods tested and lumps removed and sent to pathology. She had only come to us from another local self-funded rescue shelter four weeks earlier at eight years old (but probably, she is at least ten years old). I have always prided myself on the quality of care we have provided to the Fluffball with quality pet food, adequate exercise and lots of love and still, we had failed to detect her sickness. I blamed myself.
I started speaking to different people in the dog parks and learnt about a holistic vet trained in both conventional vet science and traditional Chinese medicine. I booked her in for that too. I even consulted a real Chinese physician who couldn’t speak a word of English and religiously trawled through my English-Chinese dictionary and the Internet to translate the English herbs into the Chinese name that I have administered into the Fluffball. It was during this period that the Fluffball was suddenly fast deteriorating. The holistic vet detected the reason as to why she was having difficulty eating and drinking for the past couple of days even though she was wanting to. Her tongue was so badly ulcered (she has never seen such a bad case) that she advised us that the Fluffball was at the end of the road. She advised that we must be prepared to put her down within 2 days if her situation didn’t improve after she gave us some drugs to take home. The Fluffball deserved to die with dignity and we shouldn’t prolong her suffering. It was a race against time. I rang the Chinese physician I met a week ago and begged him to see my dog. I was clearly distressed and despite his no experience with dogs and he was in the midst of a house move, the kind gentleman obliged.
He looked at the Fluffball’s tongue. The colour, shape and dampness wad not a good sign. Her immune system was gone, he said. I couldn’t stop crying. He gave me another hope- one last hope he said but it might take a week. Heal her tongue first so she could eat and get her immune system strengthened. He sent me off to get some Propolis from the natural health shop to be mixed with vitamin B6 for her tongue and wished me luck.
That was that Friday four weeks ago. Our emotions went through that rollercoaster ride. One moment, there was Hope. Another moment, the prognosis looked grim.
That Friday night, we meant to take the Fluffball to the emergency to inject more fluids but instead, we decided on the spot to bid her farewell. She was down to 2.3 kg from 5kg. We just couldn’t do this to her. All afternoon after our visit from the Chinese physician and me religiously administering all the drugs and syringe feeding the Fluffball, it was getting more and more unbearable to watch her try.
Dogs have a strong threshold for pain and they will do everything just to be with their owners. I couldn’t stop crying secretly for fear that she would detect my sadness. I left the door open for her to wander out and sit on the front porch like she normally would. I put on some Tibetan Buddhist prayers and prayed for the great rebirth for my beloved princess. She has had a life much loved by us and provided us with immense joy so surely the Lord Buddha will grant us this wish for her?
J came home from work that evening hoping for a miracle that didn’t happen. The only miracle though was she came to the door to greet him, which she hasn’t done in a while in her weakened state. She must know this was it before we did. The Fluffball was more of J’s dog than mine. Always such a daddy’s girl. As we drove her to the hospital, her on my lap and him driving, she found one last renewed vigour and jumped across to sit on his lap like she always would.
That very night, when we knew it was time to make that painful decision to say goodbye, we took her out for a 10 min walk in the wintry cold. We asked the vet to make the necessary cremation arrangements, no expenses spared and for her ashes in a handcrafted cedar wood box to come back to us and that plaque that says “Till we meet again” because we will meet our little princess again. One day when our time will too be up.
So yes, we went through our emotional rollercoaster since her illness. Some days we couldn’t cope with the discomfort and pain the Fluffball suffered as we syringed food and fluids into her mouth. Other days we are heartened by her initiative to polish off all the fresh organic food in her bowl that we spent hours prepping, pureed, blending and cooking. We persisted on despite the massive shift in our lifestyle, remaining vigilant and hopeful that things will turn around. Her 14th birthday party was scheduled for that Sunday, 5th June. We could only take small steps and aim to prolong her longevity by yet another day…
The Fluffball never made it for her birthday party which we have promised to throw each year for the past 9 years, mainly because we couldn’t afford to before or I was never around as I lived in Sydney busy climbing the corporate ladder whilst she lived in Canberra with J. The birthday hats, banner and streamers we bought from our poor student days are still in the garage in their unopened packages. This year we were so sure we would fulfil our promise because up to this incident and since we moved on from our disastrous business and into our new lives with our new house, new car, my new job and J finally running a profitable business, life was almost perfect and too good to be true. And so she left us just exactly one week shy of her birthday.
So there- my Fluffball gave me a gift I didn’t know I was capable of giving-Love. I now understand why a mother’s love is the greatest of all, funnily enough, through my dog-child. I am not even a real mother yet and perhaps might never be. So I thank her for making this happen to me. Like the eulogy on obituary pages go “Gone in our lives one so near but in our hearts forever near”, this is exactly how we feel.
Prissy came to us when she was at least five years old. But still the bond we have with her had been all so amazing. Pet adoption has done so much for J and I – it has literally changed our lives. We became more aware of issues relating to animal cruelty and responsible pet ownership. But most importantly, we discovered love and compassion through caring for an animal. We even become more aware of wild life and would not hesistate to rush an injured possum or cockatoo on the road to the emergency vet hospital because as J will put it in his child-like way, all creatures are “Prissy’s friends”.
We didn’t know or rear Prissy from birth.We were constantly learning something new about her. Everyday was an adventure where we revel in unrevelling the mysterious character of Miss Prissy and attempted to fit in the missing puzzles of her history. We are always curious about our sweetpea and wondering where this God-sent gift has come from and quietly marvel at the beauty of our sweet angel’s soul. She was that quiet (typical of her Lhasa Apso trait) but sweet child (although ever so suspicious of strangers) who never fails to surprise us with a new behaviour, quirk, her cat-like aloofness, slight temper and her ability to give us so much love and affection. Our only regret is we never knew her earlier and she is gone from our lives so soon. I was hoping she was one of those Lhasa Apsos in history that lived up till twenty-four human years. Or at least eighteen years is not too much to ask? Being a Lhasa Apso crossed maltese, surely her mixed gene pool would have given her a better chance of having longevity we thought plus all the healthy food and love we have showered her?
So whilst many of my peers would concur that they have experience this profound love firsthand from the birth of a child, I experienced mine through the loss of one. So here’s my story of Love.
We love and miss you so much, Prissy. You are the little girl that changed my world.
In memory of Prissy, AUD$1 for every bar of The Man’s Best Friend Medicated Soap sold online will be put aside to be donated to our nominated self-funded animal shelter.