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Louise's Friends

  • Elizabeth Albritton
  • Jess R.
  • kerrin
  • Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor)

carver the three legged dog

it's time

with the saddest of hearts I share with you that carver will be released with the assistance of our vets at home tonight at 7 p.m.

for months now, I have asked my friends who have lost dogs "how did you make the decision?" everyone replied "you will know" but I didn't believe them until now.
Carver has been losing strength in his back legs for about a month or two now. By last Monday c was unable to put any pressure on his back left leg, the same side of his body as the amputation. He needed assistance to do the shortest of walks. After a long night in the yard with c, Elizabeth came inside Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., and said it is time. I knew fully in my heart she was right. I called the vets that day, and made the appointment for Sunday, wanting to spend the weekend with him before we let him go. what we were not expecting was for carver to decline so quickly. by Friday night carver could no long get up on his own, or stay standing on his own. walking is completely not an option.

we have spent the last 36 hours or so always with carver, mostly in the yard, where we have set up a bed. he has a hard time getting comfortable, and is awake much of the time, panting. when he sleeps, he does so heavily. friends have been stopping by to spend time with us and to give carver their last pats, to say goodbye and to wish him a good passage.

with the advice of my teachers I have been doing tonglen practice with carver, a Buddhist practice that involves breathing in his pain and fear, and breathing out to him calm, warm, loving energy. I also have been reciting chants to him, with the aspiration that he be reborn into the human realm. it is said that if an animal hears the Dharma, that they purify their karma, and can be reborn into a higher realm, into a human who then hears the Dharma, and works towards the end of suffering for all. I am grateful to be able to take refuge in my practice at this time, when otherwise there is really nothing to do. I feel like I am actually doing something, where as otherwise I would feel totally helpless.

I have spent the best parts of these days talking to carver, letting him know how much I love him, and that we will be fine, and that it is o.k. to let go now. I tell him stories of our lives together, remembering him as a puppy, as a feisty teen, as the beautiful graceful, regal dog he became.

my therapist reminded me of something important the other day-that although I am feeling the loss of all of him right now, that really I have lost so much of him over the year, that i have been grieving this whole 15 months as I have lost things one by one. i remember when the tail went from being held close to his body, to not being able to wag at all. i do not know when the howling with the sirens ended, but I miss that so much. it has been months since carver has been able to jump on the couch. yesterday I was remembering so many cozy afternoons, both of us sleeping on the sofa, his feet entwined in my legs. its been over a year since carver could sleep in the bed with us, his long body diagonal across the bed, his long legs outstretched, pining down the covers so I was left chilly in the corner. how could I miss this? but I do.

I have loved this time taking care of carver, slowing down, letting everything else that I could drop away. the most simple of acts, cleaning his fur, massaging his legs, hand feeding him when he could not get up to eat. offering him fresh water. sitting on the porch in the sun when we could no longer go for walks. we have had 15 months, so much longer than we ever thought possible. we have entered into our second spring, when our first goal was just to get to the first. I have so much to be grateful for.

first, for my dear friends, who have been such a source of love, strength and support, not to mention understanding when I had to cancel plans, or when i got to the point where i could not even make them. to my boss and co-workers, for being so understanding when i came in 3 hours late, left early, or arrived completely sleep deprived and pretty much useless, if I arrived at all. for my wonderful friends at and their sister yahoo group-I could never have imagined being able to feel so supported and cared for by a group of people I have never met, but they have been there for me every step of the way, calming me down, giving excellent advice, mailing me their leftover medication when their own dogs had passed. and for my online friends, you who have stumbled onto our blog, and have followed our story and sent such lovely wishes.for my Sangha friends, who never treated carver as anything less than a fully sentient being, who listened and practiced with me, and who will practice tonglen for carver in the days to come, all wishing for him to have a safe passage, and a joyful rebirth. for Dr. walker, who said it could be done, and saw him through it, for Emily & miaja, our home visit vets, that answered every email as quickly as possible and called just to check in. not having to bring carver into a doctor's office was an amazing comfort. to Dr. moses, the pain management specialist over at Angell memorial, who made carver as comfortable as possible these past few months, allowing for us to have that precious time to be able to care for him, and to begin the process of excepting the end.

I could not begin to express the gratitude I feel for having Elizabeth in my life, carver's other mom, who held me up, praised me for what i was doing, asked all the right questions and made all the phone calls I was too afraid to make, and who loves carver as much as I do, with a sweetness that is beautiful to witness.

it is 6 a.m. now, and carver is asleep in his bed in the yard. the sun has been rising as I write this, the birds greeting the dawn. my last day on earth with carver has begun. let it be a peaceful one for him, and for us.

I will spend the day with this aspiration in my heart for carver, for myself, and for all of you

may we know happiness and the root of happiness.
may we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
may we not be separated from the great happiness, devoid of suffering.
may we dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and hatred.
may we all know profound brilliant glory.


carver seems to be feeling better all around. he slept through the night last night, only stirring to come into our room to sleep some more in there. out for a short walk this morning with no hesitation. rice for breakfast, and yogurt. I got home this afternoon from an appointment at 430, a little late for me, but c seemed fine. we spent about 40 minutes outside in the snow, some laying in snowbanks, but we did walk around a bit, and then all the way around the house! a normal, healthy bowel movement ( i know you do not want to hear about this, but this is a big triumph for me!) and he is now cozy with me on the floor. deep breath. happy for this moment of peace, for the worry to loosen its grips and to enjoy the simplicity of our lives, the floor, the cozy blanket over both of us, the evening news.

carver comes alive!

carver loves the snow. I keep trying to take pictures but apparently all aa batteries in my house are spent. anyway, carver had a good walk today after a terrible, scary night. but I am getting ahead of myself. I got home about 3 yesterday, the snow storm just moving out after leaving a solid 10 inches of snow on the ground. carver and I immedietley headed outside. the new normal being that carver only goes into the yard to relieve himself, and then back up the stairs, I was shocked to see carver head right into the yard. we walked to the back fence and back, lay in the tallest snowbank he could find, did some sniffing of a neighborhood dog. when it was time to go in, we headed towards the steps-but instead of going up, carver headed down the shoveled side walk. we walked all the way down the street, turned onto parkwood terrance, and made it to the steps of our neighbor mary & al's house. I think he would have kept going, but I turned him around, knowing we we re getting close to carver's acupuncture appointment.

janice came at 530. she put in over 30 needles, working the whole spine, both hind legs, including the ankles, then back to do the lumbar spine again. carver comfortably turned over a couple of times, and seemed alert and in good spirits. she said he seemed better than the last time she came, which was probably 2 1/2 weeks ago. she also confirmed the fact that we are in "the next level", or something like that. closer to his death. it is something I have acknowledged to myself, but there is something about hearing it from someone else that really brings it home. janice just lost her own 14 year old dog. she has been such a good support for both carver and me.

after the appointment, carver wanted to go outside. he seemed anxious, panting . carver has had diarrhea for a couple of days now, and I figured he needed to go again. he walked to the back of the yard, and squatted. I decided to try & move his tail out of the way-he had been soiling himself ever since this started, and I thought we could try to avoid it. I moved his tail up about 1/2 and inch, and he screamed in pain, leaping away from me and laying in the snow. I was in a panic, shocked and left feeling awful and frightened. I took him back in, but he continued to pant and cry, shaking so hard sometimes his teeth chattered. I felt overwhelmed with guilt and fear that I had made his pain peremenently worse. we immedietly gave him his next dose of tramadol and tried to calm him down. a heating pad on his lower back, he finally fell into a fretful sleep. carver continued to have diahrrea, and we went out several times during the night, about every two hours, until we both finally fell into a deep sleep in the living room around 330 a.m.

I took carver out around 8 this morning before I headed to work. still sick, he did what he needed to then cried for me to help him right up the stairs. I left for work feeling sad and nervous.

when I came home carver was sound asleep. I fed him some yogurt while he was still laying down, and gave him his afternoon meds. he drifted off again. I could stand it for about 30 minutes, but then I started to worry again. what if he was in so much pain all he could do was sleep? I poked him until he woke up, roused him with rice in his kibble bowl, then shook his jacket until he stood up. we begun the trip in the yard, where he walked to the back yard again. he spent some time in the snow, sniffing the air. but then, jsut like yesterday, he was on the move! we made it almost to the jamaica way and back. carver's back legs look very weak, but that does not stop him from walking in the deepest snow he can find! he really seemed to enjoy his time outside. we were out for about 45 minutes, him running down the shoveled path, then tossing himself in the snow. he still seems a bit sick, but his change in diet will hopefully do the trick. I am just grateful he seems to not be in pain, that I didn't break some part of him last night, and that he can still enjoy himself out in the world. my attitude towards the snow has totally changed!

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Karen Zgoda replied to louise's discussion new member in the group JP Writers
"It seems the NFN site has a chat feature...maybe this group could set up a time to chat here?"
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At 6:27pm on May 2, 2008, louise said…
At 3:52pm on March 15, 2008, Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) said…
Welcome Louise! Great to have you.

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