Today I lost my buddy...my lab/chow mix, Harley. He was only 9. It's been a really difficult week and a half for our family.
I got Harley from the local shelter when he was just six weeks old. I got him as a companion for Piper since I worked all day and she was home alone. They bonded right away and have been inseparable ever since. It makes us worry that maybe Piper won't handle his passing all that well.
He was always a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He loved everyone... He was perfectly happy just to hang out and follow you around. What a nice, mellow pup. He could be a super goofy dude, too. He wasn't the brightest penny, but he always had a smile on his face.
Harley was our ball dog...our water dog...our chow hound. He was a pretty typical lab. He LOVED to go swimming. He would head straight for the nearest patch of water anywhere we went...no matter if we wanted him to or not. What a happy little clam.
Harley had never been sick. He's always been the easiest pet to take care of. Just went with the flow. What an awesome guy. But around Christmas time, he developed a cough. We took him to the vet and they gave him some pain medication. The cough subsided, but he developed a lesion on his leg and started having issues with eating. Harley was never one to turn down food.
We took him back to the vet. During exam, the doc also found an anal abscess. We felt awful. He was put on antibiotics, started eating again, and seemed to be doing better. We were keeping him indoors more, out of the cold and laying on blankets to help him rest easier. But...then he started having trouble breathing and we noticed that the sore on his leg was getting worse. Back to the vet we went.
It was at this visit that things really turned for us. Harley had started losing substantial amounts of weight, but gaining substantial amounts of water. The doc ran some tests, but couldn't determine exactly what was wrong. His blood was low in protein and full of white blood cells. They gave him a shot of antibiotic and referred us to a clinic more specialized in emergency medicine so that he could have an ultrasound. X-rays had been inconclusive, other than revealing the fluid buildup.
Though we weren't ultimately fans of this clinic, they did try to figure out what was wrong with him. 4 liters of fluid were taken off of his chest and abdomen, allowing him to breathe much easier and rest more comfortably. After 3 days, he came home on Friday night. He was freaked out being alone, so I slept on the floor next to him. He was better by Saturday and he seemed to be back to his old self.
Last night, he started struggling to breathe again. Between 9pm and 5am he put on a substantial amount of fluid and we could tell that he was hurting. We were up with him for most of the night. We made a beeline for our vet as soon as they opened. They removed a whopping 6 liters of fluid from the poor guy's abdomen. They said that he was feeling much better, walking around and seeming comfortable. He laid down to take a well-deserved nap. He never woke up.
Collin and I went to say goodbye this afternoon. His collar came home with us. He will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered in an orchard a few hours from home.
It's really hard to say goodbye to my sweet boy. We're going to miss him so much. I am glad that he was comfortable in his last hours and that he was with people who cared about him. I was upset that we couldn't be with him, but in the long run it was probably easier this way. His photo is now on our mantle, with his collar. We won't forget him.
We love you buddy. We'll miss you. Thank you for being such a good boy.