January 8, 2014 will forever be etched in my mind. The day we amputated Shelby’s painful leg. Looking back now, she never fully recovered from the broken leg and I probably should have done this sooner but I refuse to play the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” mind game with myself anymore. Shelby wouldn’t want that and I cannot have that.
I remember this day like it was yesterday. The fear I felt dropping her off. She was already battling cancer, had had two major surgeries already (her broken leg repaired and her spleen out). It was a lot for anyone – let alone a 24 pound dog. She was in-between chemo treatments and had the blessing of her oncologist. The surgery almost didn’t happen. Her blood cells (red or white I can never remember) were low. She had a slight heart murmur/situation. I just prayed and prayed that she would make it through and I hadn’t waited too long. Petrified. Anxious. Pacing. On the Tripawds website ALL day. I still cannot go back read those posts. I cannot handle seeing what I was truly going through that day. But I will never forget the love and support I received from strangers (at the time), people who have since become ‘family’ to me.
Shelby flew through her surgery like a champ. I am sure her surgeon breathed as big a sigh of relief as I did when I got that call that night. Nerves of steel. I cannot even imagine that pressure she felt. I just said – one month of pain free and it is worth it. We got four months. Four exact months. No regrets.
I visited with Shelby each night she was at the hospital. She was doing amazing. She walked right away. She layed on her amp site. She was a champ. Until about 5 days post surgery and thus began a long battle to get the sparkle back. I never regretted my decision to remove her leg. I knew it was the meds making her crazy. I knew she had a lot of stuff going on. She was a fighter and a trooper and I was supported. Albeit exhausted.
So one year ago today – we said goodbye to the quadpawd and Shelby joined the Tripawds nation. She was a PROUD member. I was SO proud of her. I loved taking her places. Showing people how GREAT a dog can do on three legs. She never let that define her. She was my ‘same old Shelby’.
So now, nine months since we said goodbye to her earthly presence, a couple days into the new year (the first new year without Shelby)I am hopeful that the next four months will just go by … easily and without too much emotion. I know that as I relive in my mind our final months together, I will ride the wave of roller coaster of emotions. I will do my best to “be more Shelby” and focus on the positives of her Tripawd journey; how happy she really was, how LOVED she was, how spoiled. And how I was able to give her the most dignified passing in a place she loved the best. I know the next several months will be excruciating. I have emotionally planned for it and said that it is OK to cry and be sad. That I am stronger than I give myself credit and I will lean on little Jasper for extra comfort. I will do things in Shelby’s honor, such as continue to be a part of the Tripawd nation, keep up with my runs that I love so much, perhaps even consider training for a race again … all things I put on hold while my world revolved around Shelby.
Nine months an angel. How is that possible? I saw a dime on the counter today. Was that a sign? Usually Shelby sends pennies or sparkles but perhaps she needed to go BIG today. She knew I was desperate for something and I always look for something around the 8th of each month. My hope is that one day I will dread the “8th” a little less. That it will come and go without much fanfare.
So with this I end where we started one year ago today… my facebook post:
One of my favorite shots of Shelby, in her element, happy as a clam, on the top of the world. This was taken before she broke her leg back in June which started our long journey to where we are today. As anyone who has followed her journey to recovery, you know she is a strong dog with a fighting and independent spirit. And I always said I would ANYTHING in my power to help keep her healthy AND happy and sadly, my best girl is not happy right now. Her leg continues to slow her down and be a major thorn in her side.
That said, together, her many doctors and myself, have made the smart choice to amputate that leg tomorrow. Her quality of life is declining and that isn’t fair to her. I have gone back and forth with this decision over the past several months, from the beginning when that was the only choice we had to deciding to save the leg when there was no cancer found. All along I have been guided by the best doctors in Los Angeles and while I feel tremendous guilt about not doing this back in June, I have been assured, by many, that I made the right choice with the information that I had.
So I ask, again, for your love, your prayers, healing energy, your support for my girl as we begin our new life as a ‘tripawd’. I have no doubt she will be the cutest ‘tripawd’ on the block! And before long, we will get back to our favorite activities together, especially her favorite, beach time, where she can run freely and without pain. Thank you friends!