Thursday 13 October 2022

A difficult decision. Losing the boy. (The heartache of fur babies)

One year ago.....

14th October 2021 and I lost my boy forever. 
Animals, especially pets mean the world to me. Perhaps they mean so much more because I've never had children and so fur babies become my life, my baby my reason....? 

My fur baby was just shy of turning 14 years old. I'd nurtured him for all those years, he was my boy.

I don't think I could have written this a year ago as the 14th October 2021 was one of the worst days of my life. 

My boy was gradually getting weaker and sleeping more than ever. He had seemed to loose his drive. Sure, he still wagged his tail and his mind wanted to still play but his body was giving up. I could see that even his wag took him to summon all his strength yet he still did it everyday to greet me. 

His once juicy nose was getting dry, his eyes were loosing their sparkle and his poor legs were struggling to hold up a far slimer, lumpier version of the dog he used to be. 

I will never forget the words of the vet, " it's likely to be a stomach tumour but he is too old to do a biopsy" it was that very moment when my world shrunk and I suddenly felt like I was in a tunnel unable to get out.

My boy was the runt of the litter. He had been a frequent visitor of the vets for probably three quarters of his entire life. He was forever going to have his dumbo ears treated as often fell victim of grass seeds getting stuck. He would get cysts between his toes and sadly got diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 7 following clusters of grand mal seizures, which were horrific. The anti epilepsy medication involved him having to have regular bloodtests to monitor his liver. 

My boy hated being treated with flea and tick treatment, I think it was the smell. I tried my hardest but he was petrified and so suffered with fear aggression and so I finally I spoke to my vet about it and for his entire life every 6 weeks went to the vets where they treated him. 

My boy loved going to the vets, he would gallop like a donkey across the road just to get in the door. All the vets, nurses and receptionists knew him, after all he was a resident dog going every 6 weeks. My boy no longer associated the vets as somewhere scary he associated it with kind people that provided treats! 

As he got older he had trouble with his teeth, finally having 2 removed.

At the beginning of  2021 he started to decline.  He struggled to get up, he no longer wanted to walk his favourite walks, even a 5 minute walk became too much. So very different to the dog that wanted constant walks and used to spin in circles with excitement around the garden, darting in all directions. 

In the summer of 2021 we had a heatwave which he really struggled with. He collapsed several times where his legs couldn't hold him and had to go to the emergency animal hospital in the middle of the night. To which, the little monkey, once there, walked around casually like all was well. I felt like a fraud for wasting their time! The kind vet said this was a common phenomenon where she often had calls to say animals were so sick and upon arrival seemed fine. She stated it was the adrenaline kicking in, enabling the sick animal to become somewhat normal again. 

On his last visit to the animal hospital in the early hours the vet provided pain killers and told me that we should visit our own vet to discuss further possible treatment.  

Over those next few weeks, he had a scan and several check ups. He no longer wanted to eat, not even his favourite treats, he wouldn't swallow his medication and refused to take it. The sparkle was fading.

He had a vet appointment and the options were more medication and to keep him comfortable due to the suspicion of a stomach tumour.

We had an appointment booked for 14th October 2021 at 10:20. The evening before I was thinking about what the vets might say to me, I was very aware that my boy was suffering now, despite still wagging his tail and being the loving dog he always was. Since refusing to take his meds and not wanting to eat much I knew I had to make a decision. He hadn't got to the point of refusing to eat full stop or drink and was still managing to go to the toilet but knew that this could all change in the coming weeks. 

I arrived at the vets and I was tearful. My boy walked in as usual wagging his tail and pleased to see everyone, albeit with not quite as much enthusiasm and energy.

The vet sat me down and before she could speak the tears started and I sobbed the words " I think it's best we let him go" and questioned my own very sanity for muttering such harsh words. At this point I wasn't sure what would happen, would she say I'm out of order and making a big mistake. Make me go home and think about it? But no, her eyes became shiny with wetness, as I could see she too struggled to keep the tears away, as she had treated my boy for many many years and a bond had developed bewteen all 3 of us. She looked at me and said that he wasn't going to get any better and would decline further so she said she can do it now. We agreed that this was for the best. 

Those final moments will scar me forever. My boy happily trotted into the other room to have a canular put into his paw, he trotted back wagging his tail, one of the nurses who also had known him from a puppy came in and put a rug on the floor next to where I sat sobbing. My boy sat next to me, where I gently spoke to him and stroked him, he was so calm and not at all fidgety which he would usually be if made to sit. He faced away from me as I didn't want to see his face as he wasn't likely to close his eyes as he passed. He slowly relaxed into a lying position , I continued to stroke him and tell him how much I loved him as he peacefully fell into eternal sleep. My boy was gone. 

I left the room without looking back and broke my heart.

The tears flowed heavily for the next few days and reduced as the weeks came and went. A massive part of my heart was missing. 

I'd often think I saw him or heard him and every morning when I'd wake up for those 2 mili seconds I'd forget he had gone. 

I collected his ashes 2 weeks later and upon collection took he for his final walk around by the vets near my previous flat which had been his home for many years before finally going home. 

I never scattered his ashes as we moved around quite a lot. So now I keep them in a safe place where he can watch over me and see what I'm doing everyday. I speak to him and isn't a day when I don't miss him. 

The guilt of making that decision still haunts me but logically I know it was the right and humane thing to do. I no longer wanted my baby to suffer.

My boy, with his juicy nose, and backward question mark tail,  is at the rainbow bridge for me spinning in circles waiting for me and all that loved him.

Sleep well my beautiful handsome boy

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Van life!

I've been with the love of my life for over 12 months now, and my god she is a beauty!

I have wanted to travel and own a camper van since the tender age of 14 when I was first introduced to an “alternative” lifestyle. Sadly, I have never been able to follow this alternative dream until last year, then finally I decided to go for it!

I quit my job with the NHS July 2021, after over 25 years devoting my time to them and went fully freelance for a while as a mental health therapist. I then found a mental health company who I love and am now employed as a fully remote worker minus the odd business trip to Cambridge and London and now I can finally live my dream. 

I got rid of my car and bought a van – I got it done up and converted it to become a home on wheels!

For over the last 12 months – I have travelled about the UK in her and I am able to work and play with that perfect balance.

She sees me through all weather, rain or shine – summer or winter. I have met some interesting characters along my way and made some incredible memories. 

My mum’s side of the family live in Wales, somewhere I spent my childhood holidays – so visit them frequently.

I can devote my spare time to my hobbies of hiking, stand up paddle boarding and climbing whilst under the stars in my little home! 

I work many long hours – but somehow it seems worth it being able to have the freedom of going wherever I like, whenever I like.

Transitioning from a car to van was somewhat amusing and it did take a few weeks to master reversing out of tight spaces with limited/restricted view but with perseverance and patience and what can only be described as Austin Power moves, I can successfully navigate out of peculiar places! 

I am a free bird and although having to work – I have very few ties to hold me back from living my dream. An alternative lifestyle whilst still being financially stable is very full filling! It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

Next, I need to be able to feel confident driving on the other side of the road so that I can take my travels whilst working even further!

 I am truly grateful; I finally have the work life balance I could only dream of. I hope to make so many more memories in my beautiful campervan. 

Sunday 8 May 2022

Badly timed dog cam moments...

It was the afternoon of the 1st of January 2020 and I was relaxing in a yurt in the middle of the Forest of Dean. I'd spent an evening meeting new people on my solo new years retreat. I was happy and relaxed, I'd bought the new year in with my special French/Portuguese friend chatting over the phone whilst he was driving through the Spanish mountains from portugal back home to Paris. Life was good. 

It struck me that my new lodger, who'd only been living with me about 4 weeks had been home alone and although he didn't seem the sort to have a wild party whilst I was away I wanted to check my precious home was still standing. 

Luckily, I had a security/pet camera installed in my living room which linked directly to my phone enabling me to see and hear a live feed.

The lodger knew of said camera so was aware I could access it at any time. It sat quite clearly in line with the television so could view the entire living space. The couch was opposite.....

I decided I wanted to double check all was how it should be, after all he had only been living with me for a month and going on my experience of my previous lodger who ran off with my keys thought I'd be a fool not to look. 

The powers that be were not on my side because at that very moment of tuning in, I wished I hadn't. I was blinded by what I saw for the couple of seconds it took me to realise what was actually happening.....

There sat bang in front of the camera, with what I can only describe as the sounds of an adult nature coming from the TV, which sat next to the camera, was my lodger throwing his head back, his d**k in one hand and tissue on the arm of the chair. 

As if at that very moment heaven was on his mind and hell was in mine.

I don't think I've ever put my phone down so quickly. It was disgusting. 

Now I'm all for adults pleasuring themselves and acknowledge it as a healthy behaviour but I'm unsure as to why when he knew the camera was a live feed he would choose to do that sat bang in front of it? 

I am curious as to why he couldn't do it in his own bedroom in private? Doing it in front of a camera knowing it is linked to my phone is somewhat of a risk.

I felt a little violated and it is something that I really wish to this day I could unsee! Not an attractive sight I'm telling you. 

I spoke to my friends about it, some asked if I would question him , some joked and said I could bribe him with video footage! Neither of which I wanted to do. I never said a word. My friends and family thought he must be an odd ball to sit in front of a live camera and do what he did. 

I did struggle to look him in the eye for a while and at times wanted to throw it in his face when he had left his pubic hair and soap scum in the shower tray again. He wasn't the cleanest of boys and rarely even changed his bedsheets but I never mentioned what I'd unfortunately had to witness. In fact I was very dubious about ever checking in on the house for a while.

It was a strange and pretty gross experience and one I hope to god I will never have to encounter again. 

Since then said lodger has moved out but the camera continues to role.....

Footage is footage. The camera NEVER lies, people do!