441 days. A death sentence, the date set. With the date of pronouncement being the 5th of September 2017, add 441 days and you get 20th November 2018. The finality of an actual date struck me hard. Our vet has confirmed that our little Daisy has a heart murmur and it is more pronounced than it was on the earlier visit about a month ago. Dr Andrea just comes straight out with “441 days is the average prognosis for this condition”. Life expectancy that is, the average time it takes before the condition takes its victory, death. Death will conquer, overcome, the indomitable spirit of our little Daisy with a certain finality. An eventuality we knew would happen at some time, but now that it has a date it is just very hard to accept. Final. Real. No avoiding it. Of course, the 441 days is an average and the good side is that it might take longer than that but the downside is that it could also happen much sooner.
We have now just celebrated her and her sister Rosie’s tenth birthdays. Daisy and Rosie are our two little cavoodle girls who we purchased from a breeder in Lameroo, SA, in October 2007. Their mother was a tri-colour King Charles Cavalier and their father was a toy poodle, hence cavoodle. It has been said cavoodles get all the smarts of the poodle and the affection of the cavalier and that would definitely be true of our little girls. Certainly smart enough to know they need a cuddle regularly.
We knew something was wrong from the heavy coughing bouts Daisy would get into, usually, the first thing on arising in the morning, but also at other times after periods of rest. It is something to do with the heart not pumping hard enough at times to clear, move, fluids around the body and the lungs build up an accumulation of these fluids which my little girl is having to clear through a coughing bout. We now have to give her two tablets a day to assist in the pumping action of her heart but the tablets will not stop the process, just ease it somewhat.
It ties in with occasions when I have had the pronounced sensation of her heart pumping on my thigh when Daisy has lain in a certain position across me having cuddles on the lounge. It was a very distinct “thump, thump, thump, da thump, thump” a little irregularity in the beating of her heart. Now I am going to lose that beautiful sensation altogether, gone. Along with all the other joys she brings me on a daily basis and has done for the last ten years.
I had intended at this point to go on to describe all of the things about Daisy that has endeared her to us but on reflection that would be better used in the eulogy which I most certainly will write when I need to. This is not that time.
Now is the time to celebrate and treasure every moment left to us of this little loving spirit. Molly and I need to keep everything as normal as possible for her, to concentrate on bringing as loving a presence to her life as we can to make the passing for her as peaceful as possible. I have just read “Buddhism For Pet Lovers” by David Michie and he makes the very good point that “they certainly won’t benefit from being looked after by a neurotic, weepy human”. He also provides many techniques for coping with this difficult period in our lives but in short, it comes down to it NOT being about us, about how sad and distraught we are going to feel losing the little light of our lives but how much easier we might make this, the most difficult transition in anyone’s life, for our sweet little Daisy.
David Michie also references other works that might assist and I went on to buy “5 Powerful Meditations To Help Heal Your Animals” by Kathleen Prasad. As the title suggests, this book demonstrates a number of techniques and meditations, that will also assist us through this time. So I have started incorporating a mental repeating of one of the mantras in my morning meditation. Keeping an image of Daisy in my mind’s eye I silently repeat:
May you be free of suffering
May your heart feel peaceful
May you be healed
Know that you are loved
One morning in meditation recently I started focussing my attention on my heart through to Daisy’s heart and repeating the above mantra. Daisy was sleeping on the dog bed in front of me with Rosie tucked in behind her. Suddenly a dog started barking a couple of streets away and Rosie immediately barked her response. Daisy did not react. Rosie decided this needed more attention and jumped up and around Daisy to come and sit right in front of me so that she could look out the window that was to my side. More barking from Rosie as if the other dog’s call needed a forceful response. I didn’t want to disturb my meditation any more than I had to so I gently reached out with my right hand and placed it on the back of Rosie’s neck while I continued to focus on the mantra. No words or sounds, just the touch. Rosie decided then that the response had been sufficient and stopped barking. Another minute of gazing out of the window just to confirm that no further action was required and then Rosie started to ruck up the blanket to make it more comfortable and settled back down to sleep in front of me. Throughout all this, Daisy did not stir in any way. This was so unusual as Daisy is usually first to the fray, first to raise a response that entices Rosie to join in. But this time nothing, no movement, no interest. This non-reaction was so unusual for Daisy that it led me to wonder whether we were indeed connecting through meditation and Daisy was as focussed on it as I was? It could well be, I have written before about Daisy and meditation see “Daisy’s Kiss”.
I have no way of knowing whether this meditation process will have any real effect on Daisy but I am confident that it won’t make it any worse and it does provide me with some comfort that I may be doing something positive for her. It also helps me to process all the painful feelings I am experiencing. silently, to myself, and not foisting them on Daisy as she approaches the end of her physical time with us. She will, of course, live forever in our memories.
A shoutout and thank you to our great vets and our pharmacist: