Our little Princess, Miss Gigi

by Heidi

I thought I would be better prepared for having to make that awful decision and living with the aftermath. But I was so very very wrong. Our little girl had been ill for a while. That’s why I thought I could handle it better, but I am broken.

For a little 12 pound dog she was remarkable. But we already knew that when we adopted her back in 2000. She had been thrown from a car and was brought into the shelter where I volunteered. I don’t know what else she had suffered prior to that but she was like a little frozen statue. She didn’t have life-threatening injuries but she wasn’t considered adoptable and was slated to be euthanized in the next hour. I wanted to spend some time with her in her last minutes so I gingerly took her out of her cage. Of course I immediately bonded with her.
But I had to do something. As I sat with her in the parking lot by the rescue van, I leaned my chin down – and she licked my chin! I was shocked – there was somebody in there after all. A couple more times to make sure and she did it each time. I went into the manager’s office and while she was on the phone, I leaned my chin down, and Gigi licked my chin. The manager was watching and said I could remove the ‘PTS’ off her cage card!

After initially trying to find her a good home, Gigi became our fourth dog (over the city limit). Gigi must’ve been previously living in a basement closet because at 4 pounds she didn’t know how to eat, or bark, or play, or use stairs, or a leash, and was afraid of grass. What she did know was to LOVE. Gigi was the most pure and loving soul I ever met. She never once had a mean thought or action. She learned to live and eat and play and bark with guidance from my husband Mickey and from our other three dogs. She was like a sponge and picked up traits from all three dogs! She would always walk up to us and give two little licks and then continue on with what she was doing. She was absolutely precious.

Last November a month after my husband Mickey passed away, Gigi went into full congestive heart failure. Trips to the vet, tests, and meds began. I was still in a fog/shock over losing Mickey and now our baby was dieing. In December she was struggling to breathe and I actually took her in to be euthanized. But she bounced up and started walking around like ‘I’m not ready yet – get me out of here!’. So I took her to the emergency hospital. They were further away and by the time we got there her tongue was blue. They put her in an oxygen cage, gave IV lasix, and Gigi recovered after a couple days. What a tough girl.

She was doing well and I constantly monitored her respiratory rate. But she did lose half her weight over this year. She was blind and couldn’t hear well for over a year now. But she sure knew how to get around the house and she was fast. Especially if there was cat food to be found. At night and when I was at work, I had the bedroom blocked off so she wouldn’t wander and get stuck somewhere.

End of May she fell ill with what they suspected was a kidney infection even though the tests didn’t pick it up. The antibiotics worked but her kidneys were injured and got super sensitive to the lasix. Now it was the balancing act between keeping the fluid out of her lungs and trying to protect her kidneys. Beginning of July she had a pancreatitis attack even though she didn’t have any symptoms other than she couldn’t eat. She re soundly bounced back with supportive care. Such a strong will to live. Her appetite was better than it had been in a long time.

Then a week and a half ago happened. She vomited her lunch and that effort on her body must’ve further weakened her heart. Her respiratory rate was double triple what it should be. Her heart rate was increased. And she started coughing a bit. But she was still eating, drinking, walking around, and giving me lots of kisses. Last Wednesday the vet said that with this she was still okay and her lungs were clear.

But last Friday night right after her dinner is when her horrible distress began and my new nightmare began. She started coughing a lot, fainted, and then was breathing very fast. She was stretching her neck trying to breathe but I knew her lungs were filling up with fluid. My sweetheart, my baby, started to whimper with each breath. I know she didn’t want to leave me and she was fighting so hard. I rushed her to the emergency hospital and was hoping the lasix I had given an hour prior would help. But it didn’t. And the stress of them having to find a vein for the IV lasix made her even weaker. She was trying to sit up, but then she knew I had made that horrible, awful decision. After counseling with the ER vet, I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. Gigi lay down and I told her how much I love her and that Mickey will be waiting for her to jump into his arms once again and he will bring her into Heaven with him.

She died quietly and peacefully as I stroked her fur.

I am so devastated now. I don’t know if I should have hospitalized her and tried to help her one more time? But I knew her heart was weaker because she started fainting again even with the doubled dose of Vetmedin she was on. I didn’t want her to go into distress while I was at work and be suffering all alone. I didn’t want her to die in the hospital cage. I knew they would need to infuse more lasix which would probably cause her kidneys to completely fail. But maybe I should have tried even for the night? I know without a doubt how much she wanted to live. And how much she loved me. She was my baby. We were together over 14 years. She IS the reason I was able to get out of bed every day after Mickey died.

So here I sit. Just a wreck. The cats alternate sitting in my lap but I am inconsolable. I don’t know how other people are able to be strong. I should be since I knew this would eventually happen – but did I rob her of a few more weeks? Her quality of life had changed over the years but she was still a happy soul. Why does life have to be so hard? I miss her so much.

I will never forget all your love and those wonderful memories you’ve left with me Miss Gi, our little Princess. Until we meet again.

Comments for Our little Princess, Miss Gigi

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Jul 21, 2014
Our little Princess, Miss Gigi
by: Doreen UK

Heidi you are one AMAZING WOMAN. I cried reading your story of Miss Gigi, and I felt each moment. You did nothing wrong. You made decisions you had to. don't fill yourself with any REGRETS. If you prolonged Gigi's life it would have been selfish and cruel. You chose to ignore your feelings and did what was best for her.
I am so sorry for your loss of your husband Mickey. This alone must have been hard. I lost my husband of 44yrs. to a deadly cancer 2yrs. ago. I nursed him for 3yrs.39days and watched him die a slow PAINFUL DEATH. whilst I cared for him. It was a horrendous time when a cancer patient should not have had to die in pain. One good doctor was outraged that a cancer patient should be denied pain medication due to cost "If the Funding was available." Dogs/pets get assisted dying. People are fighting for this now. Be assured you have done the right thing by having Gigi put to sleep and spared her more suffering.
My sister has a Westie and he is dying of cancer. She could prolong his life with hospital intervention. But she won't. She will do the right thing at the right time.
Give yourself time to grieve your loss of your husband Mickey and also your dog Gigi and then go and put another dog in your life. You have such a caring loving heart and you should keep giving your life to another dog. We widows have to now restructure our lives and make it as meaningful as we can. Just hold everything loosely knowing you will lose that beloved pet one day. Make each day count. Love and Be Loved. I cry with you. May life treat you well and Bless you with every good thing in life to make it better. Best wishes.

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