This November, I woke up early to try and get some holiday tasks done, but it was not what my day would bring. Instead, I realized I needed to get Isis to a vet, never thinking she wouldn’t be coming back home.
She had been noticeably ‘off’ during the weekend. Sunday, it was undeniable that something was wrong. We assumed she had eaten something from the compost and that it would pass, sadly this was not the case. I dropped her off (COVID protocol meant I couldn’t go in with her), still expecting the worst case would be a huge vet bill (I was not wrong about that, it boggles my mind how quickly these things add up). Her blood work came back in the afternoon, showing a bilirubin level of 40; 1 is normal, 15 is very sick. An ultrasound revealed a large stone blocking her gallbladder duct. The vet said that the surgery would be over $10K and aftercare more still. Even in a very young dog the prognosis would not be great, for a 9 year old dog there was really only one thing to do.
Shock and grief enveloped me as I drove back down to Portsmouth. I have been preparing myself for something like this in Pele (well over 13 at this point, and having a hard time getting around). I was not ready to let Isis go, but it had to be done. There is consolation in that it was quick, probably only a week from stone forming and a day or two of blockage. She was still aware and responsive, but her only relief would be found in death.
I am grateful I was able to be there. To have been able to say all the things I needed to say, one last time. No one wants to be the one walking back to the car with an empty collar, yet it is the price we agree to when we welcome any critter into the family. A debt we accrued as the years went on, now come due. There is no comfort in these thoughts, only the truth that making space in my heart for any being, leaves me feeling empty when they are not there to fill it anymore. Vacant plots to plant memorial gardens on my soul, till it seems filled with bittersweet blooms.
She is the only dog I have ever gotten as a puppy and not a rescue. Huskies are a demanding breed and so I have always been strict with her. To the point where when others commented on “what a good dog she is” I would roll my eyes and say “yah, she’s being good right now…” I was always bracing for the next time she got out of the yard, or what new trouble she would get into while still in it. Now, I can say without a doubt that she was a very, very good dog, sweet, smart and willful.
Having a husky is a lifestyle. There were many things that she made impossible. I’ve been trying to enjoy the things that we’ve not been able to do for the past 9 years. Like leaving the front door wide open, letting the chickens in the front garden.
Dinner plates are now safe on the coffee table while we retrieve beverages. Pele seems to enjoy having the bean bag to herself, though I know she misses her pack mate.
There are so many reminders, like Isis fur on fall bean pods, or stepping in her poop while filling in the holes she dug in my bulb beds.
There are still blankets hanging on the fence that smell faintly of the skunk Isis tried to befriend/kill last month. It’s kind of mind boggling that her trouble has outlasted her, yet so very fitting. Her ashes are back home and there is a measure of comfort in that. Her and Honey now rest on the mantle. I know they are not really there, but the idea of having even a bit of them close helps me. I miss her, I thought she would be my fluffy-pain-in-the-ass for years to come, but I am so very grateful for the time we had.
I am happy we had 9 years with her and that she went quickly. Some days are shittier than others and November 9th was a shit coaster and a half. Now, we mourn.