Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Pleasant Saturday

On the way home from dog-interviews, had a sudden craving for a milkshake. We stopped at the Five Guys nearest our house - love their oreo shakes. Unfortunately, partway through making my wife's shake, their machine broke. So, had to leave with craving unsated. Decided that we'd swing by the house, drop off our dog and find another place to get shakes. Decided to go to Holy Cow (in the Del Rey neighborhood of Alexandria). Right next door was a little sushi spot. I realized, "huh - I haven't had anything since the borek at the farmers market this morning. I'm kinda hungry and sushi would hit the spot about now." So, we ducked in. Donna got sashimi and I got nigiri. Donna was a bit bummed that they didn't have idako available as sashimi, but they did have it was an appetizer-salad.

We still wanted milkshakes, but figured that fishy milkshake belches would be an ungood thing. So, we walked around Del Rey, for a bit, before finally ending up back at Holy Cow. I got my oreo cookie shake and Donna got a chocolate shake.

Was a nice respite before tax-drudgery. Still silly that it's not even the final week of March and the temperature was up in the mid-70s.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Random Musings on Death

I've had the opportunity to deal with the deaths of loved ones and pets. I've had the opportunity to see to the disposal of the cremated remains of both. What's interesting is that:

  • Though radically different in size, the volume of ashes doesn't seem proportionate between a full-grown adult and a 50lb dog.
  • Each (pet) death, though done via euthanasia was as unique as the pet being euthanized.
My wife and I believe that one should be present when a pet is being put down. This is at odds with how each was brought up, but it works for us.

Ideally, we're also able to have someone come to the house to administer the euthanasia drugs. This saves the dying pet from having to spend their last few minutes putting up with a car ride to a place they don't like (or are even scared by). It also means that, in a multi-pet household, the surviving pets don't wonder, "where did 'X' disappear to". 

While we've only been able to do the in-home euthanasia thing, once, my wife's preference for doing body-preparation prior to cremation elminates some of the "where did 'X' disappear to" problem. The surviving pets are free to sniff about the body that's being sewn into its burial-shroud and say their goodbyes.

With the euthanasia of our first dog, her survivor howled as we took her out of the house for her death-appointment. He obviously knew something was quite wrong. Doing "in-home" avoids some of that.

Perhaps more interesting is how each pet - even though the methods were notionally the same - died:
  • Upon injection of the white (propofol) Lana, seemed unaffected at first. Then, she blinked twice. Then three times. Then slowly slackened and slid to a prone position as we laid her down. Her eyes closed somewhere between sitting an laying. She lay there knocked out, breathing normally. Then, the vet administered the pink (pentobarbitol), and she ceased to breath soon after. There was only very minor twitching in her extremities as the muscles sought the last bits of oxygen. Overall, it was still fairly peaceful.
  • Our second dog, Puckett, was in very late stage of cutaneous lymphoma. When we took him in, he went differently. He was severely underweight from the cancer, so the drugs acted far more quickly. With the administration of the white, he quickly melted out of my arms and pancaked onto his blanket. He was so skinny. I could see his heart beating. And when the pink was administered, I could see his heart stop. It stopped long before even the full dose of pink was infused. His only death-twitch was a flip of his tail - almost like he was saying a happy goodbye for the release.
  • It was with our cats we first engaged the services of an in-home euthanasia specialist. We'd received the diagnosis that the female cat's kidneys had completely failed and that the males were in stage IV failure. Our vet knew that our cats hated riding in the car, so suggested we look at in-home services. We found Lap of Love. Their staff was very nice and the vet who came to our house to administer the service was very good about providing a non-rushed service (almost too non-rushed: I had a bit of a "can we get on with this" feeling at one point). The cats went a bit differently than the dogs. Upon administration of the white, they went quickly ragdoll. Unlike the dogs - but what is apparently normal for cats - their eyes didn't close. Being less than 20% the weight of the dogs, the administration of the pink was quickly done. And they expired equally quickly - eyes never closing. They twitched a bit more than either of the prior dogs had, but quickly settled.
  • This past week/weekend, we assumed we were going to be able to do similar in-home for our Staffie. The vet knew her kidneys were failing, but thought she probably had a few days left if we were able to keep her adequately hydrated (sent us home with several bags of saline having walked us through administering subcutaneous fluids) and eating. Unfortunately, her kidney failure was complicated by a kidney infection. They'd administerd a fairly powerful antibiotic, and she'd initially seemed to rally, but, after about six hours at home, she crashed. We had to abandon our plans to euthanize her at home. In the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, we concluded with the vet "it's time". We took the short trip into the vet hospital. They'd offered to do the service in the car so she wouldn't have to spend her last minutes in the hospital. Problem was, our staffie had far more distaste for the car than the hospital. So, we brought her back to the same room where we'd put Lana and Pucket down six years prior. As sick dogs are want to do, she rallied a bit. Her energy quickly ebbed, though, and she went back to sitting ...though her tail was still wagging and she was still greeting staff as they came in to help with prep. Unlike the prior two dogs, the white didn't make her eyes close. Even though 20% lighter than either of the prior dogs, she didn't succumb to the effects of the white as quickly. Her melt to the quilt was much slower than Lana's had been ...who, in turn, had melted much faster than Puckett had. Instead of looking sleepy, or confused, her eyes just sort of faded. Lights were on, but nobody was home ...much like the cats. And the melt and the lights-out wasn't until well after the white had been completely administered. After she'd fully settled onto the quilt, the vet administered the pink. As with the white, she didn't succumb to its effects until well after it was completely administered. Her breathing shallowed and eventually ceased. A short time later, you could feel her finally leave, and the vet nodded his head that her pulse had finally ceased. As her corpse lay there, there was a lot more twitching than in any of the prior animals' deaths. I guess that, at 8 years and six months' age, her muscles were still a lot more close to in their prime. So, their oxygen starvation elicited greater responses than that of my 17yo cats, my 11yo Lana or my cancer-ridden Puckett. I can only assume the differences were from being a tough little dog ...and probably why she was able to reach the physical state she had without showing symptoms until just a couple days before everything went to hell.