The day I almost put my dog down

I almost said goodbye to my beloved dog, Phineas, on June 30th. He wasn’t able to eat or drink that morning. I got scared and called my local vet. They said to bring him in to assess. The vet was so kind. She said this decision is never easy, and there is no wrong decision. I’m still processing the series of events that followed.

I signed all the papers with the vet and crematorium. Then we inserted the catheter in Phin’s front right leg. After the light disappearing from his eyes this morning, he rose up and screamed out loud “NO!” He was so loud even the nurses were alarmed. I looked in his eyes, and they were wide and wild and full of light again. He began to shake.

The nurses gave me some time with him. I held him and looked into his beautiful marble eyes. Something in my gut said I would regret doing this. It wasn’t a fear. It was an emphatic “ABSOLUTELY NOT! He has more time.” I felt him say, “Not yet. Not like this. Mom, please don’t do this.”

This reminded me of the time I was in the hospital for my severe allergy to a chemo drug that nearly killed me. All the doctors wanted to send me to the ICU and have me intubated because my oxygen levels were falling. I was terrified because the ICU was filled with COVID patients and vaccines had not yet rolled out widely.

An ICU nurse was called to take me down, and she fought to not send me. She wanted to try one more machine to see if my body would take up oxygen.

“You have 10 minutes,” said the attending physician.

“Then let’s give her 10 minutes,” said the nurse.

Against all odds, within 10 minutes my oxygen levels surged on the new machine.

“Holy shit,” said the attending doctor as she stood at the foot of my bed watching my monitors.

That ICU nurse saved my life. I’m certain that if I had gone to the ICU and been intubated, I would have gotten COVID and died. Now, I was that nurse for Phin. He needed me to protect him just as that nurse protected me.

As the doctor was about to come in and administer the final medication to put Phin to sleep, I ran to the lobby of the vet’s office and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I’m not ready and neither is Phin.” Instead, we gave him some injectable medication in an attempt to stabilize him and get him eating and drinking again.

I walked out of the office with Phin in his carrier. We both breathed a sigh of relief. We got home. He drank some water, ate a very small meal, and rested. There are so many other details to this story that I will write about eventually. The signs to not do this presented themselves and I didn’t see them. Phin did, and he spoke up. I can only see them now in retrospect.

I don’t know what tomorrow, or even today, will bring for my boy. But I do know that June 30th was not Phin’s time to leave this plane. I would have regretted not trying to give him more time to come out of the sedation he got late last night at the ER. He’s still here, still with me, not in pain, and I am at peace, glad and grateful to my gut for getting him extra meds, extra care, and extra time.

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Christa Avampato

Christa Avampato

Award-winning author & writer—Product Dev — Biomimicry scientist — Podcaster. Runs on curiosity & joy. twitter.com/christanyc / instagram.com/christarosenyc