Thursday, April 9, 2009


It's been just about one month now. A day that I was not prepared for even though I knew it was coming. It all started last fall with SISU - what we thought was first a bee sting, then an infection from a lodged stick in her jaw.. to hearing the news of the cancer. New Year's she was given weeks, maybe months - but we continued to feel optimistic and started her on anti-flam and pain medications .. just hoping to have just a little more time. On 12/30 she had surgery to remove the mass that was below her right eye - but it returned rather quickly. Withing 6 weeks you were unable to see her eye because of the swelling. It was a blessing that she did not seem to be in any pain. That is.. until around 9 weeks from surgery.
The beginning of March she started to have some sneezing spells. Some of which were bloody. It wasn't too severe so we increased the anti-flam meds in hopes to slow down the progress of what was obviously invading her air passages.
The meds seemed to not help.. at all. On 3/12 she started to make odd noises when she licked crumbs from the floor - sounded like a bulldog. Over that weekend it became worse .. when she rested/slept the noises that she was making was even scaring the girls. The tumor in her face had obviously begun to block her air passages and it was causing this snore like sound.
On 3/16 I was at home working and the girls were at daycare. Sisu laid near my feet, as she usually does, unable to rest. As I watched her .. I witnessed a loved dog unable to breathe. She did know how to breathe through her nose - so she would end up gasping for air through her mouth. She was unable to sleep or relax. It was torture to watch her suffer ... unable to do anything to help. It tore my heart out. I couldn't take it.
I tried to call Scott several times to share my grave concern - he was busy with clients and unable to talk. I thought "how can I do this? continue to watch her suffer?" I couldn't - I knew the answer and I couldn't believe I was faced with it on this day. Where did the weeks go?
I called her Vet and said "i need to make an appointment for Sisu". They of course ask for what.. and it took several moments before I could say the words I needed to. The frog in my throat nearly had me gasping myself. Finally I said "The cancer has gotten the best of her - it's time". UGH. I set the appoint for 5pm with full hopes that Scott would be home from work to take her in.
I finally reached Scott and shared the news. He knew.. but he had been debating the idea himself. I decided to close up the office and I went to pick up the girls from daycare so that we could all spend the last few hours together. Scott arrived home also and we went out into the yard and threw the ball countless times. Our ball-aholic dog was running around with her typical 101% energy and enthusiasm. This made me second guess - what am I doing?! She's alive well and FULL of spirit!! See.. she could breathe perfectly when she was playing like this - why? Because her mouth is wide open! When dogs pant.. they do so through their mouths, tongue droopin for thirst. But the reality is as soon as caught her breath, the dreadful noises and struggles began all over again. It was tough to pep talk my ownself that this was the right decision - this poor dog needs to rest, we can't throw the ball around the clock (although I think she would be very capable of doing so!).
The time passed by much too quick and the debate in my head and heart continued to battle on. Scott said "lets see what the Vet says - confirmation from him would help". Our much loved neighbor Staci rushed home to give her goodbyes before Scott left. The times we would get a call from the neighbors telling us Sisu had strolled up to their house for treat was countless. So we all said our goodbyes .. and no, it was not easy. I hugged her and had to push Scott and her away...
Thirty minutes later Scott calls and shared that the Vet supports our decision either way, but also acknowledged that it will only get worse. Goodbyes were given... it was time. In my mind I knew that I could not watch her suffer. I had to deal with the grief, sooner than later.

I'm a pretty logical person day to day. I'm strong and independent. So the grief I have been feeling for the loss of Sisu has taken me by surprise. The first few days were the hardest without saying. I had Scott quickly remove her crate/food/etc from the garage. Reality is.. that didn't make much difference. All the "firsts" like playing in the yard with the girls and going to the our cottage on the lake without her are the hardest. Quite frankly - they suck.

By the way, the photo I shared above is Bailey and Sisu. Bailey went to heaven 2-1/2 years ago - she was 14 yrs old and lived a full life with Scott. How hard it is now to see that photo. Both of our beloved pooches are together again.

I would like to share some of the humorous, sweet and even annoying habits -- all of which are missed.

  • While dog hair in the house is niltch, I have to vacuum and sweep more. Sisu was a vacuum that never required batteries! Every time I wipe out Sophie's highchair I miss seeing her waiting with baited breath..
  • When I see a squirrel on the deck (or even if I dont!) I cannot call Sisu and say "SQUIRREL Sisu SQUIRREL!" Thereafter to watch her bark and dance like Snoopy. It was hilarious to watch. Often times we would open the door to the deck and watch her run after them... never to actually catch. But wow she tried ... if only her feet would move as fast as her spirit!
  • The girl's have one less activity. Believe me when I say when they spent time with her it was an activity in itself. Often times you would find them propping up pillows and blankets around her, cuddling together. Sophie would typically just plop down on top of her to sit on her belly as she was resting. Caroline got her kicks out of pulling her tail or just merely hanging on for a ride/pull around the room! The toy vacuums and push toys have now been brought back out of the closet ... as they were all too often taken away because both girls loved to chase Sisu with them.
  • Man's best friend. Scott often times called Sisu MY DOG .. only when she was bad of course! But I'm no dummy (ok, sometimes maybe) - he enjoyed and loved her the same as all of us, maybe more. Hanging out in the garage now seems a bit more dull these days - am I right Scott? No more throwing the ball with neighbor/friend, Greg ... whom often times threw the ball so many times for her she would wear the pads off her feet running across the blacktop!
  • The racquet has been hung up/retired. As I said before, and as just about anyone knows if they met Sisu knows, she was a ball-aholic. At home you couldn't be outside for more than 1 minute (no exaggeration) without having a ball dropped at your feet. Constantly even if you said no. Sisu was no typical ball catcher. Tossing it across the yard was child's play to her... and anyone doing it would get worn out within minutes. A few years ago we started using a racquet .. hitting it as far as we could. Across the culdasac and into the neighbor's yard, often times we would try to fool her or send it into shrubs to sit back and watch her incredible Retriever skills shine bright.
  • When playing with the ball she never knew when to stop. No joke her back legs would weaken and give out! We would have to force her to lay down to rest and not throw the ball for her until she regained control of her tongue, hehe!
  • The "hyper dog" the greatest invention for throwing a ball has been put up in the closet. This contraption was a sling shot for tennis balls - and boy it was great! We kept this down at the cottage where it was more challenging to throw the ball because of all the trees. Here we could aim it right to the sky, or real high through a few trees for it to land in the lake 75' away! Sisu would nearly fly off the deck and run to the dock to jump into the water. I swear she could jump 15' when in a full sprint ..
  • Ladders on the dock - when she was 3 we taught her how to climb them! Yes the straight up and down style. Amazing dog I tell you.
  • All discipline was out the window when our friend Brownie stopped by. His family were Sisu's babysitters when we took trips .. so really they became Sisu's extended family :) So what do extended families do? They spoil that's what. Sisu was such a well behaved dog - no jumping on strangers - no begging for food - trustworthy all around. That is until Brownie came around! Sisu would jump 2-3' in the air and all over him as soon as he would enter the door. It really was hilarious. If we were in the yard and he drove up, she knew his truck .. her excitement and love for him was obvious :)
  • The river and lake are quiet without her presence. If we didn't throw a ball into the water she needed no direction to find the water for a drink or to cool off. It really was funny when throwing the ball in front of the house, occasionally she would dart down the side of the house with the ball. We knew.. there she goes to cool off :) Labs love water .. she was a shining example of that. Her beautiful coat was proof also .. shedding was really minimal with her.

Sisu was our companion and our entertainment. I am thankful the girls are too young to understand, but they do still say her name. I tried to be simple, yet real with the girls telling them she had an ouchie on her eye and it was time for her to go to heaven. Now they ask when we will get another Sisu :) We are dog lovers so the day will come soon, but not yet. Momma needs just a little more time to get past all these firsts and let time heal ..

April 6th would have been her golden birthday. We have had outreach from many friends sharing their condolences and support - thank you.

SISU.. we love and miss you. You will be hard to replace.

Next week I plan to create a photo gallery ...

Read about Sisu's surgery
and my Tribute to her in January.
Or are you wondering what is SISU?

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I finally got time to sit down and read this. It was a very nice post and it made me cry. I really am sorry for y'alls loss. What a beautiful dog!