Thank you for all your kind comments. We have had the most heart breaking week.
Poor Shavez's X-rays weren't good. Apart from the problems with his spine and discs, the results showed that his lungs were riddled with tumours. The vet said that it was surprising that he was still breathing as well as he was, and that it wouldn't be long before he was coughing blood and bleeding from the lungs. Everything was inoperable. The vet also said he would never walk again, so any time that we had left with him - we'd really only be delaying the inevitable.
At 5pm on Thursday, we went to pick him up from the vet. He could no longer walk or move much, so we went out the back to see him in the cage. He was wrapped in a doona because they'd shaved him (to try to find the tick that didn't exist) and had been cold. He was distressed, but SO happy to see us. His eyes lit up when he saw hubby - those two had such a special bond, I never had a hope of winning the same level of affection that Shavez had for my husband - they both adored each other.
So we talked to the vet, talked about the Xrays, and then took Shavez home for one last time. It was a mission getting him into the car, we had to use a stretcher, and the poor boy cried because it obviouly hurt to be moved.
Once we got him home, we settled him on his big foam mattress - right in the lounge room. This was his favourite place to be. He loved being close to us, as coming inside was always a bit of a treat for them, both dogs spent most of their time outside.
He was ravenous, so we gave him lots of treats. He has cleaned us out of Schmackoes, doggie chocs, and liver treats. He was also extremely thirsty, I think we filled his water bowl up 4 or 5 times during the night. Miss Elke came in and spent some time with him too.
Hubby's family came to say their goodbyes. It was so very very sad. We all sat around him on the floor, patting him, cuddling and kissing him - the whole family got to tell him how much they loved him and would miss him. Poor Shavez probably didn't understand what was going on, but I guess all he knew was that all his favourite people had come to say hello.
After the family left, he seemed to be in a lot more pain. I think the anesthetic had started to wear off by then, because he started crying... pretty much non-stop for the rest of the night. We tried everything to ease his pain - heat packs, moving him to different positions, I rubbed arnica all down his spine and gave him massages... the arnica seemed to help for a little bit, and we all were able to doze lightly for 30 minutes or so.
But there was no sleep for anyone. Hubby and I stayed up all night with him, patting him, cuddling him, crying for him, crying for us... we got to tell him many many times over how much he meant to us, and how much we'd miss him. We tried to make his final few hours as comfortable as possible.
To be honest, I felt so horrible for putting him through another night of pain. I felt like we should have made the decision on Thursday. But I do know that he loved being home... and I know that he loved the attention, and everyone coming to see him. It also made our decision to do what was best for him, and have him put to sleep, so much easier. There was no way in the world we would have put him through any more pain. But at least we got to see that for ourselves. And we got to pamper him one last time.
The frustrating thing was that Shavez was STILL a playful pup til the end. We gave him a tennis ball to chomp, and he popped that so easily, and with such gusto! He loved it. Then we gave him a squeaky ball that I'd had in the cupboard - he just LOVES squeaky balls! He squeaked that like crazy, he went nuts for it. We captured that on video - but its distressing to watch too, not only because you can hear me and hubby sobbing in the background, but because it showed that it was still "Shavez" - his beautiful personality was still there. We keep saying - "The mind was willing, but the body just wasn't able".
When the sun finally came up, our decision was made. As soon as the vet was open we were going to say goodbye. One of our good mates came around - he has always loved Shavez, so he asked if he could come to say goodbye too. He stayed with us until it was time to take him to the vets.
Hubbys parents came up to the vets office. Shavez had the four of us gathered around him at the end. He didn't understand what was going on (he was actually excited to be going in the car again) and we were all overcome with grief. I have never stayed with a pet when they have been put to sleep before. I was looking into his eyes, and I saw the light go out once it was over. He was at peace.
I cant believe he's gone. I see him everywhere. The whole yard is him. I cant go to the veggie patch, because I see him follow me in and dig up the soil. I hung washing out today and thought "last Saturday when I hung washing out, he came up and we had a cuddle". I hear him whinging at the screen door because he wants his dinner. Only its not him. He's not here anymore. Its so hard to believe that last week he was here, and seemed fine - and now he's gone.
I keep thinking "he's just a dog - get over it!". But he wasn't just a dog, he really was a HUGE part of our family. He was like the dignified old man, the heartbeat of the family. He has left an enormous hole in our hearts, and our lives.