Jorja (final act)
This is very hard. So hard.
Just over a month ago, Jorja died. We were completely shocked and we truly feel robbed. Thankfully we were both working from home that day to be with her. It was a normal day, but she didn't eat all her breakfast - typical, she’s not really into food. It was wet and crappy and we didn't go for a walk, I had meetings and that was that. Just after lunch I was on the phone with my boss when Ryan tells me something’s wrong with Jorja. He was in the kitchen .. she came up to him .. ears folded back, like she had done something wrong. He looks at her and says ‘hey baby what’s up?’ … right then and there, she defacates on the floor. She does NOT do that. He thought maybe she hadn’t been out?? Still out of character so he took her into the yard, she went down the stairs, walked over to the peastone gravel and sat down. That’s not normal! He goes up to and checks her over, she stands and then wobbles.
He picks her up, comes upstairs and tells me what have to go .. NOW. Thankfully our vet is literally 10 minutes away - we did it in .. 5??
We get there and they start asking questions, could she have ingested something? do our neighbours like our dog (was she intentionally poisoned? etc .. Nothing, no to everything. She doesn’t get into anything, there is nothing around she could have eaten, in home or yard. She was COMPLETELY normal, no signs .. no lethargy, no loss of appetite (except that morning), no stiffness, no excessive water intake, NOTHING.
I decide to speed home and check under the sink .. JUST to see if there was anything. It’s very hard for them to worry about toxic treatment if they don’t know what. I get home and check, nothing, everything sealed, nothing loose, spilled or wet.
Ryan calls me and says ‘GET HERE NOW, please’.
I can barely see out of my eyes as I pull into the vet office. They have the door open for me and I go straight into a side room where Ryan has Jorja on his lap, with a blanket.
So, it turns out from the ultrasound, she had a tumour on her spleen, it ruptured and she was hemorrhaging. White gums and panting and at that point in time, at that state of the game .. there was nothing we could honestly do. We agreed to euthanize her.
Our baby. Our first dog together, was gone and the day before we were running through the field beside the house with Pete .. full tilt, loving life. No warnings.
I’ve done a lot of reading since about hemangiosarcoma. She was 10, so that was the age but .. she’s not a breed that has any known illness or genetic concerns ( a big reason why we got a Canaan Dog a decade ago). No dog is completely immune. Other than some people doing ultrasounds every 6 months to search for tumours, it’s very very hard to treat. In some cases dogs can have splenectomy but seems like it often only gives a few months if caught early enough.
We were given in that moment, truly no options. It was awful. Although she had a tumour, she was not sick (if that makes sense?) .. she was perfect, no arthritis, no slowing down, happy, bright eyed and bushy tailed.
It’s been incredibly hard. Incredibly. We hurt so much. We thought she would be with us for maybe another 4-5 years. Not now, not like this. Yet, in a bizarre way .. if there was a way to go .. it seems like other than a half day of discomfort (maybe?) and then humane euthanasia .. she didn’t suffer, no chronic pain and was pretty good up until she wasn’t.
We miss her so much. Our other dog, Pete .. has NEVER known a life without her (since he came to Canada 9 years ago). He’s ok but he’s different. We are watching him carefully and he’s happy to go on walks, eats normally .. seems ok. He doesn’t really like dogs, has never LOVED any of our fosters, but Jorja was his sister. She was his only friend.
We had two fosters, Jim & Pam from Sit With Me Rescue, for a couple of weeks. They really needed a spot so even though we were a mess, we said yes to help. They just went to a great longer term foster (until they are adopted) on Saturday morning and … although I am glad to have the house back to normal with Pete .. they were a welcome distraction. It kept me busy and I didn't longingly think about Jorja. It’s very noticeable now. The house is quiet and Pete looks at me, with my anthropomorphizing opinion, that he is saying ‘Is she coming back? Where is she?’
She’s not coming back and YES I remember her good life with us. YES I have all the memories and photos and experiences. YES I will cherish them but ..
it sucks. Our hearts are broken and there is sadness, frustration and anger.