Yesterday M and I said our final goodbye to Lilu. My little girl was close to 17 years old and had finally grown tired of her life.
Back in 2003, we adopted her from the RSPC. She had been abandoned in south Liverpool and had gone from centre to centre and for some reason no one wanted her. Unknown to us she was in the last shelter as they were going to put her to sleep if no one adopted her. We found this out a few months after adopting her. She had arrived at the shelter and the next day we happened to go in and see her. She looked sad and thin and peered through the bars of the pen at us. It was instant love at first sight. We asked to see her, and knowing she was very timid, I sat on the floor at her level talking quietly to her. She came over to see who I was and looked me directly in the eyes, then stepping forward put her feet on my shoulder, never looking away, then licked the face off me. This to me was her adopting us and not the other way round. We brought her home and she instantly made it her home. I admit we did have difficult times with her due to her having abandonment issues, but we worked through it and in the end, she settled down and stopped being destructive. I have always had dogs in my life from when I was a toddler so knew that it would work out and what to expect. Even when she tore up two hall carpets and literally ate through a sofa, we carried on because we expected it.
In 2010, whilst out on a walk she stumbled and fell on the field whilst running after her ball. A small yelp and she did not get up again. I ran over to her to find she could not get up and her back end was paralysed. We called the vets office which was closed but had emergency services and they took one look and referred us to the Animal Hospital 46 miles away. When we got there the vet team took her in and made her comfortable and would do MRI scans, X-rays and more the next morning as by this time it was late. We went home expecting the worse and hoping for the best. She was in hospital for about 5 weeks and each night after work I would drive home, collect M and drive to the hospital so we could see her, and on the weekends we would go in the morning and visit her for an hour or two, then go get lunch, visit her again, leave and have dinner, and go back to see her until it was late and we then went home, only to do it all again the next day. Eventually, she made a recovery and came home, but two or three times a week we would be back at the hospital for her to have laser treatment, infrared treatment, and hydrotherapy. This along with the exercises done by both us and the hospital enabled her to walk unaided again, although she would never walk properly.
2017 Lilu started to slow down, and although the vet said that she has life left in her she did have problems. Her heart was slowing down, her lungs scarred and she had a slightly underactive thyroid. She was given medication and seemed to respond well to the steroid for her lungs, and her cough seemed to go. However, after some time we were told to reduce the steroids so we could get a balance that was right for her, alas, her cough came back again and never went. The thyroid tablets did not agree with her and rather than give her more energy, she started to sleep all the time. In the end, we stopped the thyroid tablets and she picked up again, but her cough was still there, and she had bouts of vomiting and loose bowel movements. Again, we dealt with it as she seemed to eat well and was generally upbeat. Then she started to slow again, and the vet suggested we prepare ourselves as they could prescribe all kinds of medication, but to what end? Quality of life to us was far more important than quantity of life.
If you have been following my blog, then you will know that we had to go to Ireland, this was to see M’s mum, as she is in a nursing home, and he had not seen her for 18 months. We got back after being away for 5 days and Lilu was her usual self, however, the next day (Tuesday) her muzzle was red, she developed a temperature and had terrible diarrhoea. I booked the vet for the next day, this was yesterday. She had slept a lot of the day, would not eat or drink and just looked very tired.
The vet looked at her and said that she could keep her in, put her on a drip, give antibiotics and see if she would improve, but we knew deep down that the time had come. I asked her what her honest professional advice would be as we only wanted a quality of life for Lilu. The vet said it would only be a few days and we would be back again, and in the meantime, she could get worse. Her temperature was 2 degrees above normal, and the vet thought that she may have an infection that was running throughout her body and without invasive investigation they could not be certain. Either way, our hands were tied.
6:30pm Lilu had a line inserted into her front left leg and we sat with her, stroking and talking to her. She had been given a sedative, so was very calm. All the time she kept giving us “kisses” and just after 6:40pm, the vet started the procedure. My heart broke and the tears flowed down my face, all the time stroking her, keeping eye contact, more “kisses”, then she lay her head down and fell asleep.
My heart is broken, and dare I say will be for a long time. Her bed, bowls and other bits will stay where they are until we are ready to put them away. Her collar is in her memory box along with all her documents, and other collars she had through the years. Her name tag and contact barrel are on the wall next to my computer, so whenever I am sat here I can see them and imagine here curled up at my feet.
This is the last photo I have of her taken jin Liverpool on 5th August. We had just been for a walk along the dock front. She was tired, as mentioned her mobility was not all that good, but she always had a go. Coming back to the car she slowed right down. She had dragged one of her back paws and it had bled, so she was getting lots of deserved attention and fussing which always made her happy.
I will miss the smelly farts, getting woken in the middle of the night so she could go for a pee. I will miss that she was deaf and when she yawned she made funny yowl noises. Her constant want to sit on the sofa with us, then getting of minutes later only to want to be lifted up again to sit with us. Her playing with her teddy bears and stripping their stuffing out all over the house, her last one given to her only on Monday which she walked about with it in her mouth, just chewing on it softly. But most of all I will miss her unquestionable love, her cuddles and kisses, and that beautiful face that has been in our lives for 14 years.
Our dogs have always come with us wherever we go, from shopping to holidays. The only exception was Christmas 2009, and when we went to Rome, Amsterdam and last week in Ireland. We have decided to have her cremated, and her ashes put in a wooden box that will come with us whenever we go on days out and when we holiday in the UK. She loved to go out in the car on days out and to new places, especially on holiday.
I love you little girl and will miss you until the day we are reunited again.