My baby, Sister, died last Thursday. I feel like my heart is breaking. Let me start with the story of how I got Sister, so you can understand why she is so important...
This is Milly. Milly was my dog in college. Unlike most people, I would say I had a pretty crappy college experience. I started at BU and then transfered to UGA. My life at UGA was sad and lonely (except for you Lindley) due to the fact that I transfered and didn't get a chance to know anybody outside my high school friends.
I got Milly about a month after going to UGA, and she and I did everything together. She went to class with me most of the time... we cleaned my apartment and watched movies and went on car trips. You name it... Milly came. In 2008 Milly was killed by a pit bull I invited in to my home. I had never been exposed to a pit bull before and innocently thought a dog was a dog. As Milly ran up to greet the pit bull, it bit Milly's neck and she died instantly. I can say without a shadow of a doubt it was the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I could not see a way to go on: I invited the dog in that killed my Milly and truly accepted all blame for her death. I had killed my best friend. I have never been lower than I was that day.
In an effort to cheer me up/keep me sane, my mom insisted we get a new puppy right away. She and my bffs Brittany and Matthew and I piled in the car and went back to the breeder to get another yorkie. I looked at all the puppies and did not bond with any of them...
I saw this one puppy in the corner but refused to hold her because she looked so much like Milly. (see how similar they look?) When I decided I did not like any of the other puppies I finally asked to hold the last one, and I broke down as soon as I got her in my arms. I kept saying over and over that I couldn't take the puppy... she just looked too much like Milly. At that moment two things happened. The puppy jumped up and started licking the tears off of my face just as the breeder said, "Well of course she looks like Milly. That's Milly's Sister."
From that day on Sister and I were connected at the hip. I felt like God had given my my best friend again. This was my second chance. I loved Sister as much as I could possibly love her. I slept with her every night and told her I loved her constantly. I call her my angel, and I believe she was.
When Jimmy and I were planning our trip to New York I looked into doggie airfare because I just didn't want to be without Sister for 10 days. It turns out it would have cost me $450 to take her with me, which was a luxury I could not afford. She spent the holidays with my mom and her dog Tommy (i.e. Sister's boyfriend). The last day of our trip my mom called and told me that Sister had hurt her hind leg and was running a little funny. We got home late on the night of the 2nd and went straight to Mom's to get Sister. I saw what Mom was talking about... Sister was running a little funny. As I went to sleep that night with Sister next to me I noticed she was breathing a little funny as well. Early on the morning of the 3rd, Sister and I went over to Treehouse Animal Clinic. I was expecting them to tell me she had fallen or gotten stepped on, etc. At the best I was expecting she needed time, at the worst a small surgery. I was not prepared for the doctor to tell me her condition was neurological. He said one of her eyes was dilated more than the other, which pointed to a neurological condition. The vet took some blood work and started Sister on a course of antibiotics and steroids. I gave her the medicine religiously, and I swear I saw some improvement.
On Thursday the 5th the vet called and said Sister did not have an infection, which meant it truly was a neurological condition. She referred us to Georgia Veterinary Specialist where we met with a neurologist (Jan.9th). I was convinced there was nothing truly wrong with Sister. I was thinking maybe she was tired or injured. I was totally unprepared for his diagnosis, which was Yorkie Encephalitis. The vet said that the only treatment was to start her on a strong dose of steroids, and even then she may only live 4-6 weeks. I would rather have been kicked in the face with a metal boot.
In total disbelief my mom and I headed to Athens to the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine on the morning of the 10th. This is a photo of my sweet Sister on the way to Athens. When we got there I recounted her symptoms, which were: back legs moving at a different rate that the front legs, her body seemed crooked, head tilt, trouble breathing, general confusion and extreem neediness/lack of ability to climb stairs. They did an MRI and spinal tap and came back with the same result. Encephalitis. Instead of explaining it as a death sentence, the vets there seems confident they could help her and prolongue her life with Chemo. They asked us to leave her there with them until the 13th so the could monitor the Chemo injections. Even though I was going to miss her, I agreed.
On the morning of the 12th they called and said Sister was having trouble breathing. They did a chest x-ray, and her lungs were almost full of fluid. Mom, Jimmy and I headed to Athens knowing it was not going to be pleasant. When we got there we were lead in to see Sister in an oxygen container that looked like an incubator. She looked happy and alert. I asked to hold her. As soon as they handed her to me she started panting in the most horrible way. She just could not breathe outside the chamber. That's when it hit me just how sick she really was. We put her back in the chamber and went into a room to talk. The vet told us that she did not know where the fluid came from or how long it had been there... but I did. I knew her breathing had been off since the night I picked her up on the 2nd. Nobody had thought it was an issue because they could not hear any crackling sounds in her lungs (the sign of fluid). Nobody thought to do a chest x-ray. When I told the vet how long it had been going on she looked disheartened. She said that even if Sister could get over the fluid in her lungs, which was very serious, she was still facing a very dangerous condition with her Encephalitis. It was then I knew she had fought enough. I didn't want her to go through anything else... because the end would not be good. I wanted to be there with her at the end.
I decided to put her to sleep. They brought her out to me in her favorite orange blanked I had just gotten her for Christmas. They laid her in my arms. I told her how much I loved her. I told her she had saved my life. I told her how grateful I was to be her mom, and how much I would miss her. She died in my arms with me telling her how much I loved her.
Even though I know it was the right thing to do, I feel like there is a hole in my heart, and it physically aches. I miss her all day every day. I miss her at bed time. I miss her sleeping next to me. I miss her in the morning when we would go on Facebook and she would type while I dried my hair. I miss her in the car... I even miss her accidents in the house. I miss her watching over me and making sure I am ok... even though I pray she still does that.
Time has not made it any easier...
Because I could not imagine going through this pain alone, Jimmy and I decided to get a puppy. Her name is Charlotte. She is a malitpoo/mutt/redneck. She is fiesty and bitey and terribly tough and sweet. She likes to eat a lot and lay on her back. She is strong and determined... and she is mine. I love her to death, but GOD do I still miss Sister.
I am trying to take it day by day, and with the help of Charlotte and Jimmy and my family and my amazing Friends, I pray I can get through this. I was having a particularly hard day today, and the pain in my chest had almost become unbearable, when these arrived in the mail...
Capella, thank you so very much for sending just what I needed at the exact moment I needed it. Your brownies gave me the strength to write this post, which I have been dreading. Although it was amazingly sad, I knew it would help me to tell the story of what happened to my sweet Sister. You're such a good friend. Thank you.
If you guys are looking for me today... I'll be next to the brownies :)