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We love you Chewy

Earlier this week we had to make the hardest decision anyone with a pet will ever have to make. You have to be totally selfless, even though you’re fully aware of the devastating consequences. I’m typing this with tears streaming down my checks and my nose running.

Over the last few weeks Chewy had slowed down, he wasn’t his beansy self, but we knew this might happen and just took everything slower. On Tuesday we went for our walks, he ate all his food and got as many treats as he could. On Tuesday night, he climbed into our bed. His breathing was heavy, the lymph glands in neck had hugely swollen and he was struggling to breathe. He was disorientated and wouldn’t eat or drink. He kept wanting to go outside, but wasn’t able to stand. I slept next to him on the floor, in the other bedroom and came downstairs when wanted to. Eventually at about 5am we called the vet.

She confirmed our worst fears. We booked an appointment for 7:45 that morning, we had a little time to say goodbye.

I keep remembering all of the little things he did, like nudge my hand ever so gently for a treat, or watch me cook in the kitchen or check on me in the bathroom. I don’t want to be able to leave a plate of food on the sofa and it still be there when I get back. I don’t want to be able to carry a heavy and full watering can from the kitchen to the garden and not spill it because he isn’t underfoot. I want those big eyes staring at me for another treat, a little playful lick and a nose nuzzling cuddle.

But we also didn’t want him to suffer. It was his time and I know we did the right thing. But he is so very, incredibly missed.

Last week I’d written the story below, but hadn’t yet posted it. It didn’t feel right to start with this. So, here are the missing parts of our journey: The Next Steps

After waiting for the results, a process that seems endless at the time. And especially taxing when you know that you need to act fast with the treatment option you choose, we got them, and we started the chemo.

We’d bought the special gloves to handle his medication and as an extra layer of protection when clearing away the remnants of the magazines he’s read. Play-dates with small people were cancelled. We were prepared.

Well at least we thought we were.

It’s all a bit of a blur now. After the first treatment we picked him up in the evening, after having had a discussion with a wonderful nurse. We came home thinking we had a highly toxic boy. Well, I’m not sure if I’m being callus or careless, but the toxicity was very manageable. And the gloves really weren’t necessary. But we didn’t know and it’s always better to have them.

Sadly, Chewy’s tummy didn’t love the avalanche of Chemo drugs that were pumped into his body, trying to beat his type B lymphoma into submission. We had a few more trips back to the Vet and weren’t able to have his next session as planned. But the golf balls that were lymphotically residing in his neck had disappeared.

Several days later than planned we went back for session two. This round, we’d been told, was to be far less aggressive. It would be one of the easy sessions…

We were fooled. Ourselves and the Vet. Poor Chewy just couldn’t handle the strength of the medication and after a night of pretty much constant illness – we were at a point where our dog who will do anything for food, wouldn’t touch it. Early the next morning we took him back to the Vet, having to carry him from the car.

Here he spent the day on a drip, carried around the surgery by the Vet. He’d lost 2 kgs, going down to only one more kilo than when he’d first arrived. We were in a very scary place and he was clearly in discomfort.

Luckily, the drip worked. That evening we were able to pick him up. Armed with tins of incredibly expensive vet-issued, Royal Canin Gastro-Intestinal food. I completely recommend it, we were at the point where we’d give him anything if he’d eat it! But it also gave us our boy back.

From the beginning of this process our number one priority was Chewy. It was his comfort that was important. Sure, I’d love to have him around forever. But that wouldn’t be fair – he was the one in pain and it would be our responsibility to manage that. Not our desire to have him with us, even if it was very strong.

So we made the decision to stop the chemo. It worked to a point, getting rid of the engorged lymph glands, but the extent to which Chewy suffered from the side-effects made it an easy decision not to continue.

Having the tasty Royal Canin Gastro food, and we literally bought trays of the stuff to feed him, first every two hours, then every two-and-a-half, then three hours helped to get our boy back. He was excited to eat again and was recovering his strength.

We were, and are, now in Palliative Care Mode. We’ve had to adjust his food again – he refused to eat the kibble he was getting (in conjunction with the raw food that I make for him). So we bought a share in Lily’s Kitchen. Which had him jumping up to the counter again, to make suggestions on how to place the food in his bowl…/mouth!

At this point we began to run low on the raw food. I’ve made this for him, since he arrived. It’s 80% meat (beef mince), 10% offal, 5% vegetables & 5% calcium. I make it in bulk… it takes approximately 6 hours to make 3 months work… so basically a day’s work. It’s exhausting and messy. But was really good for him, so I did it. But with the introduction of complete-meal tinned food I began to wonder if this was my excuse to not get up to my elbows in the biggest pot we own, really mixing all the blended meat together!

As much as we’d love to give him Lily’s Kitchen, if he were having only that he’d need 3 tins a day. At £2.50 per tin that would be £7.50 a day. So we looked around and found Forthglade. Made in Devon, all the nasties free and filled with goodness the Vet was very happy for us to replace his Lily’s Kitchen and raw food (slowly) with Forthglade. At about £1 a tray, and he’ll only need 2 trays a day, this will be both more affordable and far more time efficient for me.

We are now a few more weeks down the line. We have a much happier boy – sure, he gets tired and can’t walk for as long as he used to. But he’s got his beans back! And it’s wonderful. He’s completely, even more, food orientated and has even taking to jumping up to check if anyone has been silly enough to leave anything… and I do mean anything within snout distance.

He’s also become a much better boy when we go for walks. He isn’t running off and as we’re armed with pockets filled with Thrive Duck Treats, we’re able to let him off the lead in fields we wouldn’t previously have dreamed of. Sometimes we can’t even take another step until he’s had another tiny piece of duck, but we’re definitely all enjoying his new-found freedom. Seeing him have a little run about and prolonged stop-and-sniff is great.

So, for now, life is good. He’s eating, drinking and being cute. But, more importantly, he’s also happy and comfortable. We’ll be regulars at the Vet, we kinda were before, but that’s okay. I’m lucky enough to work for an amazing, dog friendly company. So Chewy comes to work with me, sleeps in his bed by my desk and occasionally farts for my colleagues (apologies). Because of him we go for regular lunchtime walks on the heath, which are great for everyone.

Yet again, Chewy and his awesomeness strike, enriching our lives and making them better. And despite of what we know will come, we have an amazing opportunity to really love and make the most of him. Our lives really are better because of him… even if he does wake us up at 3am because he’s moved from his bed to lie next to the wardrobe and is now having a running dream that means he keeps bashing the wardrobe.

Chewy all of our future dogs will have the biggest boots to fill. You were so very loved and will always be remembered.

Lucky xxx


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