Biographical Non-Fiction posted July 21, 2011

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Tough Day at the Holland House

Say What You Will: Day 1

by Rdfrdmom2

My pets are an integral part of my family!
As I sit in this small room with my beloved male Scottish Terrier, Mac, waiting to find out if his liver failure is treatable or terminal, another issue just became crystal clear. I’ve been praying for clarity and discernment to do the right thing for this sweet, four-legged boy who has done nothing but provide me his unconditional love ever since that cold, January night he and his sister, Gwen, came into my life. If he has a true chance of surviving this crisis with good quality of life, I want to give him that chance. I chose to bring him into our family – I owe him that.
If treatment is going to be painful and to only artificially extend his life for a few days or weeks, I need to let him cross that Rainbow Bridge now. I also owe him that.
Mac is sitting on the floor beside me but is unable to remain still for long periods of time. Perhaps it is the sound of other dogs who are whining which unsettles him. Maybe he senses my deep sadness at the thought of losing him. Occasionally he looks up at me, cocks his head, and just stares at me with those wise, soulful eyes which are uniquely his. It is as if he is trying to comfort me even as I struggle to do what is best for him.
After what may be our last walk together, we come back inside to our designated waiting area. I sit on the floor with him so he can lay his head on my knee as he normally does when he is beside me on the sofa-recliner. I need the normalcy more than he, I’m sure. He looks at me with eyes of gratitude and I feel peace for the moment.
We have shared this telephathic-like bond ever since my return from the hospital after my near-death experience last summer – ironically, almost exactly a year ago. He was very peculiar about anyone, including my husband, getting anywhere near me during my first few weeks home. In particular, he was not fond of anyone taking me out of his presence for any length of time. This became most troublesome for my brother as he was normally the person who took me to my weekly follow-up visits to the variety of doctors I found myself supporting.
When I was finally well enough to come and go on my own, Mac and his sister, Gwen, began waiting by the back door for my return if Aubrey was home; otherwise, they were cordoned off in the kitchen. This became their practice even if I just went to the mail box or next door to drop something off for my daughter.
The veterinarian walks in, puzzled for a moment as there is no one at eye level to greet him. He looks down to greet Mac and smiles knowingly as Mac and I rise for Mac’s second round of examinations of the day.
I place Mac on the examination table, using all my patience not to snap as the vet asks questions that I know were provided to him in the test results and x-rays I brought with me upon my arrival. I remind myself I am there solely to do what’s right for my faithful companion so answer as best I can with a Gibralter-size lump in my throat. We look at each other when he completes his litany of questions. It is obvious he knows I know he knows I know the real deal about Mac’s condition.
I agree to leave Mac there for the night so he can be admitted to ICU where he can be closely monitored until his ultrasound can be completed on Wednesday. At best, his condition is guarded. The vet explains the low end of the estimated bill is about $1250 with the high end to be closer to $2250 unless more drastic measures need to be taken. Even in these economic times, how is one expected to put a price on unconditional love? I must leave a deposit of $800 before I leave. I will just have to cut back on minor things like food, clothes, detergent, toilet paper, etc. Hey, everybody sacrifices these days!
I’m jarred when the vet asks me if I’m ready for him to take Mac. The last time anyone asked me anything even remotely in that vein was when the undertaker was about to wheel my mom out of my home (hers, at the time) on the morning of October 23, 2003. It’s the strangest little things which catch you off guard.
Mac left willingly with the vet as if he knew we were all working for his benefit. I walked to the front desk to make my payment. Wouldn’t you know the credit card I had with me didn’t have enough credit available and was denied just as the receptionist was asking me if I wanted to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for Mac. I really was not expecting that even though I was fully aware his odds were not good. I choked out that I needed to go to the car to get another means of payment and I would decide while I was doing that. My head already knew what had to be done but my heart was not a willing participant. As I prepare to write the check, I quickly initial by the DNR before I lose my nerve even though I am absolutely certain it is the right thing to do.
How this story will end is known only by my Creator, my Father God, who blessed me with Mac in the first place. He knows there will be a Mac-size void beside Gwen and me when we go to bed tonight. I have to trust that He will fill it with His comfort.
Say what you will about my love for my four-legged companion but don’t you dare say he’s just a dog. He has loved me when I wasn’t even likeable; comforted me when I was beyond comfort; remained by my side when no one else was around; licked my tears dry sometimes almost before I knew they were falling; danced with me across my living room; and picnicked with me by my parents’ graves. About whom can you say the same?


*I am re-posting this from just under 10 years ago as Mac's twin, Gwen, is going downhill quickly. Gwen will be 14 years and 9 months old tomorrow. Simply put, my heart is broken!

The story is self-explanatory. There will be a Day 2 follow-up. A very special thanks to Susan F.M.T. for her picture of "Local Scotties." It's as if she had photographed my Mac and Gwen. Love, Jan
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Susan F. M. T. at

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