The Trumpter in the Woods

Chapter Ten – Saying Goodbye (part two)

While Caper was receiving her treatments, I was investigating how I could become a dog trainer. I found a better option, a dog behavior counselor through the American College of Applied Science. The program was intensive and expensive, and was offered mostly as online classes. Despite the cash outlay for Caper’s treatments, I knew I needed to invest more money in my education and continue down the path that Caper had led me, to work with animals. My money fears disappeared during this time for some reason. It had to be only due to love – my love for Caper and my love of the work I was now doing with the animals.

Caper stayed by my side as I studied about animal behavior, but she was noticeably slowing down. Her walk was unsteady and weak. I would awake each morning to see her sleeping next to my bed and I felt relief that she was still breathing. It was the summer of 2002, a year after her cancer diagnosis, and an animal communicator told me that Caper’s cancer was indeed advancing. Caper described it to the communicator as “a little city” growing inside of her. I wanted Caper to make it to her 14th birthday in November.

On the night of October 10, 2002, I woke Caper from a nap at 10:00 to go outside for a final potty before bedtime. She stood up and nearly fell over. I caught her and stabilized her, and she stumbled like she was drunk. She made it down the two steps out the front door and onto the lawn and collapsed. I struggled to get her up again and she staggered back into the house, with a lengthy process of getting her up each one of the steps. Very slowly, I managed to get her settled onto a dog bed in the living room. As she lay on her side, I could see her eye movement was strange, like her eyeballs were rapidly darting from side-to-side. In a panic, not even thinking that by now it was 10:30 on a Thursday, a work night, I called her acupuncture vet. I woke her.

“I think Caper is having a stroke,” the vet told me, based on the symptoms I related to her. “Meet me in the parking lot of the motel on the corner of Route 1 and 202 in 20 minutes.”

The motel was halfway between my house and hers, and we both pulled into the parking lot at 11:05pm. She gave me a couple of prescriptions and instructed me to get Caper to her office at 8:00am the next morning.

I slept on the floor in the living room next to Caper that night, waking every couple of hours to check on her. I watched her breathe as she slept soundly. The next morning, I anxiously tried to arouse her with the hopes that the medicine and deep sleep had restored her to health. But she was no better, her eyes still darting back and forth and her walk slow and staggering. I managed to get her into the car and to the vet’s office. When we arrived, two of the vet’s assistants put Caper onto a stretcher and took us up to a large, open, carpeted room on the second floor above the office. I was grateful for the privacy. I spent the day there with Caper who was hooked up to an IV, giving her the vet’s very best efforts to save her life. Caper appeared to be in a coma and I never left her side. I brought my textbook with me and tried to study to distract me from the distressing thought of potentially losing my girl. It was tough to concentrate on my studies; instead, I prayed to God to save my girl.

At 4:00pm when the vet was ready to close the office for the day, she gave me several options.

“Caper hasn’t responded to the drugs like I had hoped,” the petite, dark-haired vet explained.  “You can leave her here and I can have one of my techs come back after dinner to check on her. But she’ll be alone all night. Or you can take her home and administer the IV yourself. I can send all you need home with you and show you how to do it. Or,” the vet paused and drew in her breath, knowing that I wouldn’t like the final option, “you can choose to put her down now. After all, Caper is nearly 14 and has been battling cancer for a long time now.”

“Do you think she has a chance?” I desperately asked, hoping for the answer I wanted to hear.

“We could give it another day but if she doesn’t respond by tomorrow, I would recommend euthanasia.”

“I’m not giving up on her yet,” I decided, and we placed Caper on a stretcher still hooked up to the IV and carefully laid her on the back seat of my silver 4-door Honda Accord.

Content and title copyright Christine Palm Shaughness. No reproduction allowed.