Last week was one of those weeks where I had it all planned out. Sunday night I put everything neatly in my organizer with boxes to check as I completed my ‘to-do” list and workouts. I went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke up early Monday morning ready to tackle the week! I have to say that Monday did go as planned. I went to work came home and got in a 6 mile run before dinner, which went great!
However, things started to unravel Monday night as a giant snow storm headed toward Maine. I had planned on doing a long swim, strength training and 1 hour ride on Tuesday. It was not looking good as I the potential for school cancellation was high. Sure enough, Tuesday morning the phone rang at 5:30 am and school was cancelled. No long swim for me, so I shuffled my schedule, which was already packed, to do it another day.
As much as the school closing interrupted my Ironman training plans, I do love an unplanned day at home with my kids. I let them sleep in and then made them a big breakfast and they stayed in their pajamas for most of the day. I decided I would do a 1 hour Interval ride and strength training. On Wednesday I would do my Brick: 2 hour 45 minute ride and 15 minute run.
During my trainer ride on Tuesday, my son came to tell me that Gus (our elderly Labrador Retriever) had gotten sick and thrown up all of his food. I got off to tend to that and noticed that he was really struggling and seemed to have a fever. Then he thew up again…bile everywhere. I cleaned that up and just sat with him as he was panting heavily. As I pet him, I could tell that he had lost quite a bit of weight. This food loving, typically overweight dog, had been on the decline for the past year, but over the past month his entire body had started to fail. He would eat and eat and eat, but would eventually not keep it down. He had accidents in the house and some days could not stand up without assistance. It was heartbreaking to witness, but at the ripe old age of 14, it was inevitable and any medical interventions other than medications were not really an option for his frail condition.
In the Fall, I had come home from work one day and he could barely stand. I helped him outside and he fell down and gashed his eye while going to the bathroom. I thought we were going to have to make a painful decision then. However, with some daily anti-inflammatories and anxiety medicine he turned around. My husband built him a ramp to get up and down the stairs outside of our house, which he learned how to use right away. Of course, we knew this was extending his time with us and we made the decision that the day he could no longer eat, we would know it was time. So, here we were, faced with that day. Of course, there was a blizzard outside, so we decided to see if he turned around overnight.
I slept with Gus on the floor in our family room. He vomited a few times during the night, but still wanted to eat in the morning. Unfortunately he vomited again right after eating it. I helped him outside to the bathroom as his back legs did not want to work and we both slipped on the ice and snow. I managed to get him back in, but knew it was time. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was still contemplating how to get in my 3 hour trainer ride, but I quickly abandoned it as I sat with my beloved dog for the last time. I called my husband and he made the appointment. I went to the store and got a pound of ground beef to cook up for Mr. Gus. Even if he couldn’t keep it down, he would love trying too! My husband picked up the kids early from school so they could come and say goodbye to him. It was so heartbreaking, but I know the kids had been preparing for this for sometime as well.
I gave him his beef and mixed in a double dose of Xanax for the car ride to the vet. We had bought a special harness to help him with mobility, so we put that on him to get him in the car. The 5 mile car ride seemed to last forever. I sat in the back of our mini van with him as my husband drove and we talked to him and reminisced about all of the funny things he had done over the years. He was a loyal, loving dog, and was very protective of anyone near water. When the kids were little and would get in the pool, he would pace back and forth “life-guarding”. On one occasion, a few of my son’s preschool friends and their Mom’s came over for a small pool party. It just about put Gus over the edge, despite that each child was in the pool with a life vest and their parent. He got in the pool and sat on the step until everyone was done, crying and barking from time to time. Another instance, I took him to the beach for a walk and there were some teenage boys jumping off the bridge into the water. He started pacing up and down the beach as he saw the first one drop in, as the second started to jump, he ran into the water and swam out to where the boys were jumping in an effort to “save him”. He took water safety very seriously and even swam half way across a lake once to “rescue” me while I was water skiing. My husband and I laughed in between tears until we got to the Vet.
We took him in the side door and into an exam room. He was a little loopy from the extra Xanax, but he could barely lift his head as they sedated him. He still took treats out of my hand as he fell asleep and they started his IV. I hugged and kissed him and said my final goodbye. My husband sat with him until it was over. I regret not staying there for the extra few minutes.
It was a quiet ride back home. The kids met us at the door and were sad, but providing me with comfort as well. It was so hard, but I know we made the right decision. I had plenty of things over the next few days that helped take my mind off the grief. On Thursday, I worked most of the day, then came home and did a 4 mile run on the treadmill. That night, my daughter had a concert at her school.
On Friday, I got in that 2 hour 45 minute trainer ride and 15 minute run while my kids were at school. Saturday, we decided to take advantage of all of the fresh snow we had received and we headed skiing for the day. It was a beautiful out, some of the best conditions I have ever seen in Maine. It was also nice to spend the day outside enjoying the weather and the lovely scenery in New England. By Sunday, I was exhausted and not feeling well. I think the stress of the week had caught up with me (it always does at some point) and I opted to skip the long run I had planned and just did 4 miles on the treadmill. I never made it to the pool once during the week, but I had to pick and choose, and swimming was the least of my concerns.
How was your week? Have you ever experienced the loss of a pet? How did you cope? How do you handle your training when “Life Happens”?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you so much for stopping by!
I am linking up with Eat, Pray, Run DC and: