We lost Suki in January. While I’ll never know with complete certainty, I have very little doubt that what took her was the year of unnecessary Percorten injections. She developed an antibiotic resistant bladder infection, and possibly bladder cancer. While we tried to get a diagnosis, even going as far as doing a suction biopsy at a specialized hospital, they weren’t able to collect a large enough sample. In the end her kidneys suddenly failed from a combination of ascended infection and a NSAID used to slow bladder cancer. She was tired. I now know the answer to how do you know is that you just… Do. They look at you, and you just know. Amputating my arm would have been easier, but to keep going would have been asking her to do it for me. And while I know that if I had asked it of her she’d have kept going until her body literally couldn’t, then kept trying, but I couldn’t do it. There were times when I held her and wished with every fiber of my being that I could have taken her pain and illness for her. I guess, in some ways, I did.
As awful as that first vet was (and I’ve now learned what he was doing every time I questioned his “diagnosis” was medical gaslighting), we ended up at a new clinic that really was wonderful. They genuinely improved her quality of life, and I can take some solace in that. Over Christmas we took a trip with the dogs. The day before we were leaving (December 23) she started peeing blood and straining again. Instead of waving it off as a side-effect bladder cancer, her new vet listened to me, and prescribed another course of antibiotics for me to give her if I felt she needed them. It made all the difference, and we had one of the best road trips. We forgot she was even sick. On Christmas we woke up in the mountains and walked the dogs down a deserted, snow covered road. Suki felt well enough that she tried to climb the snow banks and shoved her face in the snow.
How do you summarize an entire life into a few paragraphs?
That she was the kind of dog that after just two months had left an impression at the new clinic. That she loved people to a fault, and once spent an hour napping on her back on a stranger’s lap at a coffee shop. That she was the dog you introduced to people who were afraid of dogs. That a woman from a country that only knows dogs as dangerous animals asked to meet her, and was able to very cautiously pet her and even wanted to take her photo. That she genuinely found joy in the smell of flowers. My favourite part of the Butchart Gardens was watching her meander from flower to flower, gently sniffing the large flowers and burying her face in the bushes covered in tiny blooms. That somehow, despite being a dog, she had a smile that was contagious. That she appreciated scenery. That she would stand at the precipice of every summit and you could tell she was just taking it all in. That she loved crunchy leaves, and wouldn’t stop until she had shredded them into tiny pieces. That she once nearly knocked me to the ground because she was just so excited to be up on a cliff that she turned and jumped at me, chest bumping me in the kneecap and causing my leg to lock backwards. That I could always count on her to be perfect, which included feeding me humble pie if I started to think too highly of myself. That she loved snow, although her other favourite weathers included sunny, rainy, windy, overcast, typhoon…
I hate the phrase “lost the fight with illness.” Life isn’t a battle to be fought. I’m not going to list the dates from her birth to her death. I don’t remember what day she died and I’m not interested in looking it up. None of us get out of the universe alive. We’re all little blips in the billions of the years of a planet that itself is just a little blip in a vast an incomprehensible universe. But I think, for the second she was here, it shone just a little brighter. She of course had no concept of anything I just wrote. Which, I think, is kind of the point.
She may have been a dog, but she showed me what it meant to truly live.