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I had the most wonderful dog for almost 13 years. Harlem. He was a. Springer spaniel x human as I always said. And he was the most caring, clever, funny, independent, stubborn, argumentative, loyal dog I ever knew.
I am in a wheelchair and my whole life has been about fighting to get by and being let down every single time by people in my life, but he was always there. He did chores, went on his own walks, followed me everywhere, stormed off when he didn’t get his own way and knew every time what I was feeling and how to help. He also spent 7 years working up to 5 days a week as a pet therapy dog in 4 different aged care centres. Including during covid when he was literally the only visitor the residents could have. He spent hours with dying residents easing their suffering, helped people who no longer talked or interacted to engage again, sat with people who were ill or sad. His whole life was about others.
He never did dog things like running towards dogs in a dog park, or catching balls because that meant he couldn’t keep an eye on me.. (in truth he was amazingly clever in a loveable jerk kind of way ie if i threw a ball in a park, he would pick it up and put it up on some steps knowing I couldn’t get it and thus couldn’t throw it again).
He was a proper little gentleman always looking to help me and anyone else.
Last year he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and while 3 vet clinics said he couldn’t make it, he did. It took 1 months, over $35k and more tears than I knew I had in me, but he made it. The blood disorder made him tired, but when I visited him the day after his first transfusion I asked him if it was his time and he wanted me to let him go, and in true Harlem fashion he let me know it wasn’t by going and grabbing his giraffe toy that I brought him and brought it over and played tug of war. So I fought like he did. Beside weakness and tiredness the disorder didn’t rob him of his quality of life so we fought together and on the 4/11/21 he was given the all clear. They said no dog had ever recovered and it was a miracle.
On the 5/4 Harlem had a slight swelling in his cheek. The vet said that it was an abscess in his tooth and went for surgery that day but they couldn’t proceed as it wasn’t an abscess but a cancerous mass. He had a ct scan and a biopsy 2 days later, other than swelling he showed no other signs. On the 13/4 he was breathing heavy and panting and I rushed him to vet who gave him a methodone injection for pain and he was good after. I got the results that night… a malignant melanoma already in the tissue and bone, no options for surgery because of where it was in his head. No treatment options just palliative care.
On Thursday I had a pet oncologist look at results who said it was so aggressive that he only had days remaining.
On Good Friday within the space of an hour a. Lump came up on his cheek and he was panting a lot and any time I pulled my hand away from him, he reached his paw out so I could keep holding it. He had been given pain meds that morning.
The vet gave him another methodone injection and stronger pain meds. She said the mass had grown through his cheek. She said if he responded to the pain meds he would be ok for another 5 days.
He didn’t respond so that night I had to find a service to come to the house and help my boy on his way. I couldn’t see him suffer any longer.. the vet who came said his eye was protruding so the mass must have moved to behind his eye.
It all happened so quickly from a little swelling to loosing him and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I wasn’t prepared to lose him and now I feel like I am drowning without him.
I feel such loss and guilt for not being able to save him this time. I don’t know if he knows how loved he was and that I am so so sorry.
I just don’t know what to do now,
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