This is a picture of my dog Josi setting on my lap. It was taken around Thanksgiving this year.
She was about 12 ½ years old in this picture. She was born in our house; we had a pair of purebred Lhasa Apsos, Maggie & Gus, and they had one litter of pups. One of the puppies became very ill with puppy strangles; I believe it’s a virus similar to strep throat. The puppy had to be isolated from the other pups because she was contagious. She had blisters in her throat and around her eyes. She lost a lot of hair on her muzzle and around her eyes. She was about five weeks old and a 3 pound ball of fluff. I kept her with me so she didn’t infect the rest of the letter and gave her medicine three or four times a day. When I lay down to take a nap she would sleep on my chest. Before I knew it, I belonged to her! I hadn’t planned on keeping a pup from the litter, but Josi decided she was staying with us because I belonged to her!
We ended up keeping one more pup from the litter, her name is Sami and she’s my wife’s dog. After having a litter of pups Maggie decided she wanted absolutely nothing to do with Gus ever again and she treated him like a pariah. Poor Gus was heartbroken he really was a gentle dog, quite unusual for an intact male Lhasa Apso. Maggie had been trained as a companion dog and one of my coworkers from the Vet Center needed a companion dog; she was a perfect fit for him. So Gus, Josi and Sami lived with my wife and I. My wife worked until last year, so I spent most of my days with Josi, Gus & Sami. When I went somewhere Josi was the one who rode in the car with me. She became my shadow and protector, and she became very stressed out if I was not home.
Last year we discovered Josie had cancer; there was a little lump on her foot and the people at Oregon State Veterinary School found the lump. It would’ve been easy to treat her the conventional way by amputating her foot, except she had a bad back with a bulging disc that happened when she and Gus were playing tug-of-war in our backyard with a possum. She was so proud every time she got a possum she would literally smile ear to ear, as if to say “Look what I did dad! Aren’t you proud of me? It was fun!”
Because of the back injury amputation was not an option. We been purchased the cart for her to use when her back was really bad, but she did not like it. I took her to water therapy, basically she walked treadmill while she was about chest deep in water. That really seemed to help her get stronger. The vet told us that the type of cancer she had often did not metastasize and that she might never have any problem with it.
Unfortunately, the cancer did metastasize and went into her liver. About two weeks before Christmas she got sick, but our daughter’s dog was sick too and the vet said it was canine flu. We treated Josi and she got well and had a good appetite. On December 18 I noticed she was not drinking very much. So I called the vet to get her in the next day. They did some blood work and gave her an IV and said she had an infection in her liver. They ordered some antibiotic to be delivered the next day. By the next morning it was obvious to my wife and I that Josi had decided she had enough of this life. She refused to eat and she refused to drink. I took her to the vet Thursday morning and they give her an IV and said “she’s laboring to breathe. This is not good.” “Would you like us to take care of her like we did Gus?” I said “yes.”
Our veterinarian is the most wonderful vet in the world. She is from New York, Long Island I believe, and she and her sister run the best very clinic in town, as far as I’m concerned. Marsh is the veterinarian and her sister Susan is the assistant. We were one of their first clients when they open their doors and they consider us “family.” In spite of having a very busy day on Thursday, December 20 they told us to bring Josi back at 3: 30 in the afternoon and they would be ready for us.
They cleared their schedule for the afternoon and rearranged the appointments so my wife and I and our dogs with the ones in the clinic.
They took their time and let us have time with Josi, giving her a sedation that didn’t completely knock her out but allowed her to hear us. So we talked to her and petted her and rubbed her tummy, which she just loved.
They put a nice bed on the operating table that covered her with a blanket and administered oxygen to her because her breathing was becoming more labored. As the drugs begin to take effect they told us, “okay she is unconscious now, she cannot hear you.” It was just shortly after that that the doctor gave her the shot that ended her suffering.
They laid her in the bed on the floor so that our other two dogs could see that she was gone and not grieve as much. This seemed to help our dogs. There were lots of tears from my wife and I and the doctor and her sister. Josi was the second dog that Marsha and Susan had euthanized for us this year, both of them were very tearful yet they handled it with such grace, faith and dignity that I would not take the dog to any other veterinarian as long as Marsha is still practicing veterinary medicine.
We are blessed to have such good friends that are veterinarians and I was certainly blessed to belong to Josi!