Darcy - Our last chapter
10 February 2021 5.45pm My Darcy champ took his last breath.
My heart is not broken, how can it be, our dogs give us everything unconditionally, they are always there for us.
My heart is just feeling empty, just empty. Darcy was a companion dog for Dakota, his K9 soul mate that passed away in 2007 and my companion. Darcy never came to work with me, never assisted in any training with any clients.
Now I am an extremely private person that very rarely shares anything with anyone not even the closest of people to me, as I never feel the need, and if I have chosen to share something that is private it has been done in the hope to help another human.
I chose 10 months ago to share Darcy's last journey, for those that wanted to follow, in the hope that those that did would take just a little something from this last chapter of a dog's life.
I swear my Darcy must have been a cat in his last life, and carried on his 9 lives in this one, as over the past 4 years he has dodged some bullets, but more so in these past 10 months. These past 10 months I thought his time was up at least 4 times.
Hell, after all the physical medical issues that came up, and all the ailments started showing as he hit the senior years and with signs of dementia roughly 18 months ago, I never expected 10 months ago to hear the words Cancer for my Darcy. Bloody bladder cancer at that, and when I did my research, yep Beagles have a 10% chance of getting bladder cancer.
So now he was in palliative care and expected to survive maybe 3-4 weeks, maybe a little longer with providing him with hemp oil (the real stuff not the cheap crap).
Now I have never been good at playing nurse, as I am an educator but my attitude with everything in life is "it is what it is, stay proactive and deal with it".
This attitude of mine, and truly understanding of dogs, just living in the moment, playing nurse became easy as this was not about me, it was about Darcy so I made sure I listened to him, and when it comes to listening to dogs, well, that just comes naturally and has done since I learnt the language of dogs.
My number one priory through our last chapter was to make sure Darcy was in no or only had minimum pain.
Remember, I was listening to Darcy and watching him like a hawk, observing his behavior and health challenges as they crept up.
With the many ups and downs over the months, Darcy really put me on an emotional and mental roller coaster and through it all, there was life lessons he was teaching me and I made sure I was learning from them.
I had already made the decision months ago that if my vet could not come out, whom I would choose. It was 'Vet Around the Corner' Marian, who I met last year over coffee as I was searching for mobile vets that I could confidently and happily recommend to my clients. Marian is a quietly spoken, calm and compassionate human. When she arrived, we first spoke in the driveway as I had a few questions to ask, just covering my bases, making sure I had done absolutely everything. I knew I had, as Darcy told me so, and my intuition that gut feeling that never lies said, it was time.
For a second I thought, what right do I have to take a life and I had never had that thought before, then I remembered, it is a blessing I could do this for him.
As Darcy rested on the sofa, on a white bed, quiet calm music playing in the background and candles lit it was time. I sat next to him, with his head resting on my lap while I held his paw and stroked his floppy Beagle ears.
Yes, I did have a quiet tear, but I did not break or fall apart, I prayed for strength, while I visualized our life together and how blessed I was to have him for all these years and thanked him.
As Dr Marian took me through each step, I took my 3 deep breaths as Darcy took his.
My heart felt sad and completely empty, yet at the same time relieved for him that he will soon be in heaven with the rest of our Beagle family, Jack and Dakota and back to himself with no illnesses.
My journey, though had not yet finished, I am writing this from Pets and peace. You see, for me to get closure; my final journey is to take my dogs to pets and peace to be cremated. I stay and view the cremation, I then wait until they bring him back to me, in my choice of an Indian wood timber box, now is the end of the last chapter for me, so yes Darcy is already back with me.
This may seem weird and creepy for some, for me it provides me with peace.
Everyone's grief is different, there is no right or wrong way, there is no appropriate grieving time, it is different for everyone.
For those around you who do not have a dog and have not experienced the unconditional love they give us and the joy they add to our lives, will more than likely not understand the amount of grief you have for your loss.
For Jack, my first Beagle, my grieving period was 3 years, Dakota close to 3 years, Darcy I don't know, all I know is, after this is posted I will only ever grieve in private, that's me, I don't need to talk or feel the need to tell stories, you see I live my life as dogs do, in the present, in the moment. My life will go into another chapter with Ryda Boy.
I have a very strong faith and live my life through my faith and it is through my faith I am provided with the strength that I need.
If you have followed Darcy's last chapter and you have taken something away from it then let me know.
Questions that humans may have that science cannot seem to answer yet:
Do other K9 companions within the family know that a K9 member is sick or dying?
Science: does not have an answer for this yet, more studies need to be done. Many in my industry say no they don't.
For me over the past 21 years and observing extremely closely dog behavior and body language not just of my own 3 dogs passing, but also with sitting in on hundreds of client's dogs over the past 21 years, my observations would answer yes they do know, but just like humans not one dogs reaction is the same as another dog.
All my dogs have been present at each one''s passing and each one has reacted differently, yes even at the hardest times I am still observing and analyzing dog's behavior.
Feel free to share your thoughts and observations if you have any.
Question: Do dogs know they are dying?
This is a tough one and again one I think science does not have an answer yet too.
Me: yes I think many do, though again I think you truly need to be truly intuitive to get this.
If I could wish for what K9 parents would take from the last chapter of a dogs'life is the following:
Listen to your dog
Listen to your intuition.
Be a voice for your dog, you are their advocate, ask your vet questions.
Please do not make it about you, as hard as it is, shed your tears away from your dog, remember they pick up on our energy and the energy around them. Dogs are so in tune with humans; this is one of their uniqueness's.
Be truly in the moment with them when you are with them, get rid of all the white noise around you, believe me, there is no more beautiful feeling than this.
Avoid trying to grasp onto any little thing that may give you a little more time with your dog. Your dog needs to be living the best of their life now and what they enjoy.
Darcy went from eating a natural raw and cooked diet all his life, of grass-fed free range and organic products, to bloody junk food; and doing this gave me heart palpitations, but I listened to him and as long as he ate, I didn't give a crap what it was.
Don't pull the plug on their life too quickly, when you are truly in tune with your dog, they do talk to you, so listen really carefully, they truly will let you know.
Remember to take a little time out for yourself each day, even if that's just sitting in your car for 10 minutes with a coffee. Yep that's how I used my time.
If you are a boss, then please give an employee time to be with their K9 companion. Have understanding and compassion at this time. Yes, I believe people should be able to have carer and compassion leave at this time.
Most of all is, as difficult as it is to be there for them at the end please stay with them, comfort them, hold their paw, stroke them, in a way you know they enjoyed. Please do not make it about you, and walk away to leave them with a vet or a room of strangers; believe me they only want and need you there.
Please find it in your heart, the strength you need to stay with them, I promise you, you will find more comfort in this, than walking away.
Find the strength to hold back the tears, don't make it about you and your loss, remember dogs live in the moment, make this last moment to be connected and at peace knowing you are there for your K9 companion, in the same way they have always been there for you, unconditionally.
To end this, I would like to thank every client that has used the services of INATD during Darcy's last chapter, for your patience and understanding during this time.
My Champ Darcy lived up to his nickname, a real champ.
He grew old gracefully and stayed the independent Beagle, the best he could.
14 days off, before turning 17 and he still managed to jump on the sofa and the bed.
What a champ.