Seven Days

My life changed forever. Buzz deserves a tribute, and he'll get one, but I'm not ready yet. My heart and my brain can't seem to get on the same page. I know he's gone, I witnessed his death, and yet... I keep looking for him, thinking I hear him, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night sure I'll just look across the room and see him sleeping soundly. I miss petting his ears. I miss the weight of his head on my lap as I type on my laptop. It's been seven days today. Seven days I haven't see his smiling face, or laughed at his insistence it IS MEAL TIME! It is also seven days I know he wouldn't have enjoyed.
I was getting his dinner ready.
Each dog has very different categories in a quality of life assessment. I paid very close attention to what quality of life meant to Buzz since his mobility deteriorated to the point he needed quite a bit of help every day.
Cuddling with Buzz. I miss it.
On Sunday May 18, I made the heartwrenching decision to set an appointment for Buzz. For the last week, he had been having difficulty eating. His jaw very obviously hurt. He would pick up food but then roll it around in his mouth trying to figure out a way to chew without it hurting. I tried soft food, I tried warm food, and I tried hand feeding him. He would eventually eat, but it was evident it wasn't comfortable for him. Buzz also hadn't done well in the heat since last summer. 70 degree weather was as warm as he could enjoy. Just going out to potty in 70 degree weather made him pant for quite a while after we got back inside. He couldn't enjoy his sniffs when it was too warm. And his mobility was continually decreasing. This was the part that broke my heart the most. He had such a difficult time adjusting to not being able to get up on his own. I came home from work on Sunday to find him stuck. He was panicked. He got himself in a position he couldn't get out of. I had no idea how long he'd been there. It shattered me. This was my brave and stoic Buzz. We'd occasionally dealt with him being stuck in a few other places in the apartment before, but he'd never been this upset about it. I tried an xpen, I tried a crate, neither had the desired effect.
Buzz and Rascal

Even though I was in no way sure I could actually follow through with the appointment, I gave Buzz the very best last hours on this earth I could dream up for him.

Monday he spent the day at work with me. Up front, behind the desk, in the bed he was always so sure he fit in but didn't. Well, we made it so he fit in there.
Extra blankets made it work.
He went in the treadmill at work. Not to work out, but to enjoy the warm water spa. It had become his favorite place to be. He could stand up easily with the support of the water. We just stood in the spa and let the water circulate around us as I fed him snacks. Dr. Julia adjusted him, she knew.

We got Arby's on the way home. I'd been stopping to get him french fries more often the last couple of months and he definitely had a preference for Arby's curly fries. So that's what we got. I even shared a roast beef sandwich with him. Then he got two servings of dinner at home.

When we got home, Tim said "we're having movie night with Buzz." So we moved my mattress to the floor. I hadn't cuddled with Buzz all night long in months. Having him up high on my bed was dangerous, because he'd lost bed privileges due to trying to get off by himself to get a drink in the middle of the night. He slept soundly between my legs until a very early morning potty call. When we got back inside, I just pet his head for hours while he slept peacefully. He was due for his Adequan injection, and I very consciously administered it. I wanted his last day to be as happy and painfree as possible.

Tuesday morning dawned sunny and clear. It was perfect. Lauren graciously offered to meet us at the park bright and early to take pictures. This is where I really, really just wanted to call everything off. He was happy and alert, he was so vibrant. We had so much fun while Buzz ate his McDonald's breakfast. I might have cried just as much as I laughed.

The handsomest.
After our morning park adventure, we came home for breakfast (another double serving with some extra pain meds) and a nap. Going to the park and eating breakfast is tiring (also, being ridiculously full of food may have made him tired, too).
While he was napping, I was getting more and more anxious. I wanted the day to be over, but I didn't want it to end. Logically, I'd gone through every option. Instead of continuing to dwell on what would happen later, Buzz and I went for a drive. I had no idea where we were going, but we got in the car and headed down some less traveled roads. Buzz loved the wind in his face. Just him and I, enjoying the beautiful day. I kept passing back treats as I was driving. My goal for the day was to make him as full as I could. Our drive eventually led us to a pet supply store where we bought even more treats. These were supposed to help his tummy... And then we drove around some more. It was my escape from reality. We eventually ended up at my work.

I had emailed my coworkers earlier in the day, and Julia had known since Sunday. Buzz and I enjoyed the spa together for the last time. I fed him, I pet him, I filled the tank up as high as I could and he thoroughly enjoyed the jets. I cried. I cried so hard. This was the most difficult decision I'd ever made. I wanted to pick Buzz up and drive far, far away. Away from reality, away from death.

But we had important places to be. Lauren, Tim, Buzz, and I went to Dairy Queen. Buzz ordered a banana split and cheese curds.
Why you move the ice cream away?!
A little something on yer face.
Buzz didn't want the banana. He wanted the ice cream off the banana.

After DQ we went to a pet supply store to look at the fish and small animals, a very favorite Buzz activity. Oh, and also to smell all the things in all the aisles. He picked out some more treats too.

When we arrived home, it was time to settle in on the bed again. It was time to pet Buzz for the last time. To watch him sleep peacefully. My only wish was that he would be so tired and full and content that he would be sound asleep when Dr. Raeyna arrived. I sat next to him and I pet him. My best laid plans had worked. He quickly dozed off. 
So full. So tired. The last picture I took of him.
And then he was gone.

My heart was broken.

My Buzz Lightyear. I whispered how sorry I was. And I thanked him for being the best dog ever. As I sobbed into his fur for the last time, I said good bye, for now.

To Infinity and Beyond.

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