Thank you all so, so, so much for your positive thoughts and prayers for Django. It is with incredible heartache and immeasurable sadness and grief that I share the sad news that Django died yesterday.
In my last update, I told you that he was diagnosed with immune-mediated polyarthritis (IMPA), a painful and serious condition that causes joint inflammation and pain, after having an undiagnosed high fever for a week. He started the treatment of immunosuppressants, and after a day improved slightly. Instead of eating nothing, he started to eat a few spoons of peanut butter. After being the same for a few days with no further improvement, I asked his vet if I should be worried. She said no, that it could just take time for the meds to work, and to be worried if he got worse or his behavior changed.
On Friday, he ate canned dog food–his first real food in nearly two weeks. We were encouraged. Saturday I went out and bought him all sorts of canned dog food and his favorite foods, sure that recovery was just around the corner.
But that changed by Saturday night. He was no longer eating and seemed to be a little worse. On Sunday, he was much worse. He refused to even look at peanut butter and was moving significantly more slowly. He seemed to have a lot of trouble laying down on the bed. And his breathing was labored. Dave and I were both up with him Sunday night, and he was in very, very bad shape. He couldn’t seem to lay down on his bed at all, and put his head on his bolster as if to try to sleep standing up. He stood at his water bowl for a long time, just staring, and struggled drinking water. And when I went to take him outside, he was unsteady on his feet because he was so weak from not eating.
I decided to take him to the ER at 6 a.m. on Monday, thinking that they’d adjust his meds, and I’d have him home in time to start the work day. Instead, I got the worst news. He had fluid around his lungs, which could be caused by cancer, a side effect of the immunosuppressants, or something else. Finding the cause of this new complication would require many days in the hospital and many more tests. And the vet was not at all optimistic that even if they found the cause–and in some cases of IMPA, there is no cause–it would be a very long and difficult road ahead for him because he had not responded to treatment like 80% of dogs do. She gently suggested considering euthanasia.
I called Dave, and he drove up to the ER so we could discuss it. At this point, Django had lost 20 pounds and weighed just 54 pounds. His pain was so obvious in how he struggled to lie down and move. His eyes were so sad and had tear marks under them as if he’d been crying. We knew that we could not put him through yet another hospital stay and more tests, especially when the chances of him getting better seemed slim.
We spent hours with him in an exam room, kissing him, hugging him, and telling him what a good boy he was. And we held him while he passed away.
Even knowing what was going to happen…having him pass away in our arms was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life, second only to my father dying when I was a teenager.
I didn’t expect to lose Django that morning. Throughout this ordeal of him being sick, I never even considered he wouldn’t get better. I just thought it might take a long time. I always assumed Django would be with us for years. He would have turned 8 in June; we adopted him right before his second birthday.
Last Tuesday was the 19th anniversary of when Dave and I started dating. In all that time, this is the hardest thing we’ve gone through together. We have had two cats who had cancer, and that was very difficult. But the difference is that we knew the outcome and were somewhat prepared for it. With Django, we always assumed he would make it through.
To say we are devastated is an understatement. To say our lives revolved around Django isn’t. Our days were planned around him–fitting in his walk before I went to work, making sure I left work in time to take him out, planning our weekends around fun places to take him for a walk, taking him with us to local pet-friendly breweries, taking him to friends’ houses for get-together (because he’d been invited), taking him on weekend trips and vacations.
It’s simply unbearable to imagine life without him. His gorgeous eyes, his expressive ears, his silly personality–I’ll never get to experience them again. What’s left are constant reminders of our loss–his empty bed, his empty bowls, all the food I just bought for him, his collars, coats, and leashes.
My heart constantly aches, and I can’t stop crying. I miss him so much.
We took yesterday off and grieved. My cat Orla definitely knew we were sad and would lay on my lap every time I started crying. Orla was his buddy. The other cats swirled around us all day. It’s different for all of us.
I didn’t know how I’d go to work today. I had to interview someone first thing in the morning and then had a meeting with my boss’s boss. I put on makeup, thinking I wouldn’t cry. And then I cried the entire walk in. Work was a welcome distraction, and I didn’t cry as much as I would have if I’d worked from home. At the end of the day, I realized I had no reason to leave at a certain time. Django wouldn’t be waiting to go on his walk. I cried the whole walk home. And then I saw a package in the mail from the hospital where we took him yesterday, and I knew what it was–his collar. I walked into the house and just bawled when I saw his empty bed.
I’m so sad that he’s gone and so sad that he was so sick for two weeks and I couldn’t make him better. I can’t stop thinking of his sad eyes yesterday morning. I am trying to think of the positives: he’s not suffering anymore, we were with him almost nonstop the two weeks he was sick (I worked from home most of that time and slept in the living room with him because he couldn’t walk up the stairs to the bedroom), the weather was nice those two weeks so he didn’t have to deal with snow and extreme cold while not feeling good, and that we could be there and comfort him at the very end. I know he knew how much we loved him.
I’m so sorry this is so sad. I had planned on giving you all a positive update on how well he was doing. I would give anything for that to have happened.
Django was my everything. He was such a good boy, and I’m honored to have had him in my life. I can’t imagine life without him, but I’m trying to taking it one day at a time. I’m not sure about the future of this blog. I’m too sad right now to care about anything else. While I’m not saying goodbye, I am saying farewell until I have a better handle on my grief. And thank you so much for all your support and positive thoughts throughout this. It means so much to me!!!
Rest in peace, Django, good boy.