Saturday, June 14, 2014

Good bye, my love.

Two months ago, Dixie seemed to be feeling under the weather. She wasn't eating well, and seemed to have less energy. I took her to my vet and she was diagnosed with anaplasmosis. (a tick borne illness) She tested a "faint positive" right at the end of the testing window. The vet prescribed antibiotics and said that Dixie should feel better in a few days.

A few days later, she wasn't doing any better. I brought her back to the vet and they did an X-ray to "rule out" anything more significant. The vet saw a shadow on her X-ray and sent it to the University of Minnesota vet hospital to have it read by a radiologist. The report from the radiologist said that there wasn't anything unusual, but that more imaging may be needed.

I took Dixie to see an internal medicine vet at the U of M. He did blood and urine tests, and everything came back in perfect form. He said that with the symptoms, we should do more imaging to rule out a tumor. I agreed to have them do a CT scan on Dixie. After scheduling that, Dixie seemed to perk up. Her appetite increased a little, and she had more energy. I contemplated canceling the imaging, but decided to do it "just in case."

I was told that I could drop Dixie off at the U in the morning. I declined. I said that I would bring her and stay with her until the imaging was done. She and I waited patiently that morning, arriving at 8am but not having the actual imaging appointment until 10:30am.  The student vet came to get Dixie when it was her time. She commented what a great dog Dixie was.

I sat and waited. I wasn't really worried because I believed that they wouldn't find anything. The vet came to the cubicle I was sitting in looking very uncomfortable. He told me that Dixie had a mass on her liver. He went on to say that the cancer was "everywhere." In shock I asked what that meant. He said the she had weeks to live. I broke down and cried. They brought Dixie to me, and she was groggy from the anesthesia for the CT scan. I put her on the chair I was sitting in and held her. The vet came back some time later and said that he was able to get Dixie an appointment with the oncology department the next week. In the meantime, he prescribed an anti-inflammatory med, and a med to increase her appetite.

I took her home and passed on the information to my family and close friends. I cried for a long time.

The next week Dixie saw the oncologist at the U.  We were taken back to a room by a student vet. She asked about Dixie's job. She, too, had diabetes. She said that she had never heard of a dog being able to alert for blood sugars. She asked for the name of the organization where I got Dixie.  The oncologist came in and reviewed her imaging and lab work. Dixie had gained back a little weight. She offered several options. The most reasonable, in her opinion, was to try an oral chemotherapy med. She thought that if Dixie responded to it, she would have months instead of weeks. The mass on her liver was 9cm by 9cm. She had mets to her lungs, lymph nodes, and spleen.  The most common side effect of the chemo was fatigue. We decided to try it.

Dixie took the chemo med for about 1 week. It made her so sick and miserable that I decided that months of living that way wasn't worth it. We stopped the med.

For the next two weeks, Dixie continued coming to school with me. We did some 1/2 days when it seemed that she was uncomfortable. I tried everything to increase her food intake. I asked people at school to bring their dog's favorite treats to share with Dixie. She just couldn't eat. She continued to get thinner and thinner. We spent a lot of time snuggling. I took a lot of pictures. I asked her how I'd ever be able to do this without her.

On May 23rd, 2014 at 1:35pm in the veterinary's office, Dixie took her last breath in my arms. I held her, kissed her, and thanked her for all her hard work. I reminded her how many people loved her.  I set her free to fly with the angels.

Thank you, Dixie, for being my service dog. And bless you, Dixie, for being my friend.

I will always love you.


Kathy said...

So very sorry to hear about your loss. What an amazing dog and companion she was. She led a very impressive and important life and I have no doubt that she is in a happy place now.
Best wishes to you.

Karen said...

Oh how absolutely heartbreaking!! But you did the right thing letting her go - she is happy and free from pain, except that she misses you just as much as you miss her. Sending much love your way!!

Scott K. Johnson said...


I shared many of my feelings with you over the phone, and I appreciate you giving me that opportunity. Molly touched me very deeply and while I'm feeling only a sliver of the pain you must be, I want you to know that my heart aches with you.

I love you and am sending all the love, support, and prayers I have.

Laddie said...

Molly, we've never met, but I am a longtime T1 who lives in Minneapolis and knows Scott, Ann W, and probably others whom you know. I've heard of Molly and Dixie for years and my heart breaks for you at the loss of your beloved Dixie. I am partial to black dogs and own 8-year old Abby the Black Lab who is totally oblivious to my diabetes. I'm thinking of you and will continue to do so.

Minnesota.Ann said...

You and Dixie are legends. You were as much her angel as she was yours. I believe Dixie is still watching over you and that you'll meet again. Hugs

Sara said...

Oh my goodness! I am so sorry to hear this! I so enjoyed meeting you and Dixie so many years ago.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful dog. I'm so sorry for your loss. You will be reunited with her one day. As close as I am to our dog, these service dogs are truly irreplaceable and the bond you shared with Dixie is much stronger than the usual man/dog bond. Heartbreaking.