Feb 18, 2012

Baby Girl

It's been almost 3 weeks since my last post.  I'm not even sure where to begin.
After hearing about my grandma, i had hoped i could move on to less depressing things.  The thought that i won't ever get to go visit her again is hard- as is the thought that if i hadn't procrastinated getting out my letters she would've gotten one last little note from me- but i didn't want to dwell on the negatives. 
At the same time though, i was afraid of another domino-effect of bad news.  See, a few years ago, the death of my Grandpa R was followed a couple weeks later by the death of my other grandma, followed a few weeks after that by the death of my lovely Kitty, who we'd had for over 10 years.

As predicted, i found out a couple days after my grandma's death that my aunt has had cancer and was having her leg amputated that day.  That came as quite a shock, as i had somehow missed the news that she was even sick.

And then, a few days after that, the news that my baby girl, my Arctic, wasn't doing well either.  I didn't realize how bad it was until Wednesday the 8th, when my older sister Skyped me to tell me that my mom was thinking of having her put down that night.  I had a bit of a melt-down, called my mom to make sure she would wait, and booked a ticket to the U.S. that left on Friday. 
Didn't get a wink of sleep Wednesday night.  Cried so hard or so much that i burst a blood vessel in my eye.  I scoured the internet for a last-minute flight under $1000 (which surprisingly i succeeded at).  Packed a duffel bag of clothes and my backpack.  Called my boss first thing Thursday morning to tell him i had to go home for the week.  Of course i couldn't tell him the real reason why.  And yes, i didn't even really ask.  He was understanding though, took me to the immigration office in the morning before i had to be at work, to get the re-entry permit that i needed in my passport so i could get back into the country with my work visa.  I was a bit of a mess the whole day, very zombie-like from exhaustion and lack of sleep, the whole time worrying that my girl wouldn't hold on until i got home.  But i got through work Thursday, got home and did all last-minute preparations before finally zonking out.  
Due to the time difference, i left Narita airport Friday afternoon and arrived at LAX Friday morning.  Got in to Phoenix in the afternoon and was picked up at the airport by Miss C. 
Spent the whole weekend at home, spending all the time i could with Arctic.  There were moments when she seemed like she was doing okay, but the majority of her time was spent sprawled out in her bed.  We had to encourage her to get up and go outside for a drink and to go pee every couple of hours.  She also had to be taken to the vet's office every day to get hydrated through IV.  Friday through Sunday night i slept out on the couch so i could let her outside whenever she had to pee since she couldn't make it though the dog door without a struggle.  Made sure she had a drink every hour or so as well.. 
We made sure she was as comfortable as possible.  As hard as it was to see her like that, it made me feel a little better to see that she was still excited about food.  Sunday night she got hand-outs of the pizza we were having for dinner.  I also made her her own special dinner Sunday night too- chicken breast, rice, veggies, and eggs.  First time i'd ever cooked meat in my life.  She seemed to enjoy it.
I slept on the ground with her that night.  She didn't sleep too well.  She'd sit up every hour or so and start panting, and i'd make sure she'd get a drink and would help her up and outside when she needed.

Then Monday morning, we finally had to say goodbye. 
It felt so unfair to be the ones deciding when she would go.  She was in pain and would have gone on her own soon enough, but i wish we could've talked to her, asked her what she wanted to do- if she wanted to wait it out and go naturally, or if she was done hanging on and wanted to go ahead and end it then..
She was 12 and 1/2 years old.  A good long life for a husky, but as anyone who's had dogs will tell you, that's simply not long enough.
12 and 1/2 years... that's half of my life.  I remember the day i got her.. i had hoped and waited for years to get a husky.  I don't even really know what sparked my love for huskies at such a young age.  I wanted one and nothing was going to keep me from getting one.  I saved as much of my allowance and lunch money as i could in a gross-looking coffee can that i had found in our garage, kept hidden in my closet.  
I remember my older sister telling me that her friend's older brother had bought a husky but was looking to find her a new home, since he was away at college all day while she was shut in the bathroom to keep her out of trouble, and he couldn't spend the time with her that she needed.  I wasn't supposed to know about it yet.. it was just between her and our mom then, but i wrote about it in my journal as the happiest day of my life.
It was a struggle though.  I was young and had never had a puppy before, and suddenly i was a mom to the adorable little bundle of fur that i had been yearning for for years.  Like any other baby there was endless poop and pee, messes and things destroyed.  So much time and energy going in to potty-training, playing, and obedience.  Money spent on food and vaccines and vet visits..  
But i did it.  She was my baby girl and no one could've been prouder of her than i.  She was a ball of energy and proved it every time she took me for a walk.  But for what energy she had, she had twice as much heart.  Whenever i was upset, she would sit and listen (for her being the spitfire she was, that was rare indeed) and let me hug her.  She would give you more sniffs and kisses than you'd ever want.  When we'd come home it was all tail-wags and jumping and so much excitement!  When i'd decide to sleep out on the pull-out couch bed, she'd hop up there with me and curl up by my side to sleep with me.
My biggest regret is that i missed so much of the last 4 years with her.  I wanted so much to bring her up to Seattle with me, but in the end i knew it was best for her not to uproot her from the place she grew up in, with her big house and yard.. and with me being gone at work and school most of the day it wouldn't be fair to her to be cooped up in an apartment all day with no one to be there for her.
And when i left for Japan last year, i knew she was old and didn't have much time left, which made it that much harder to go.  But i had told myself i had to be there for her in the end, no matter what.  I'm glad she held on for me so that i could have those last few days with her.  I was home for less than a week, but i don't think i could've stayed there for much longer after she was gone anyway, even if i didn't have work to worry about.  Not having her there was a bit too much for me to handle.  
I flew back to LA a day before my flight back to Narita was scheduled, so i could visit my aunt.  She seems to be doing well and is in good spirits.  It was nice to see her and my other aunt and my uncle, if only for less than a day.  Life is so fickle and unexpected, you never know when it will be your last time to see somebody.  I know that's so cliche and something everyone says but it couldn't be more true..
We visited and had dinner together the day i got in, then early the next morning we all had breakfast at Denny's before they took me back to the airport.
I boarded the plane with my carry-on bags.  Arctic's paw-print that they made at the vet's office in my duffel bag, and her collar hooked onto my backpack.  It gave me a little comfort in hearing her tags jingle at my side as i walked.  A friend of my mom's put it best, in a comment on Facebook: "I have never gotten over losing... my beloved German Shep, even though it has been over 30 years. I would give all my posessions to have her back."
Losing family hurts, no matter if they're two-legged or four.  It's just sad that many people don't consider the four-legged ones as family.  I've never been able to understand that...
I had the chance to talk to my Grandma R on the phone while i was home.  I knew she had such a hard time losing Grandpa R, but she's been moving on like a trouper.  She told me, once it's not as fresh you'll have lots of happy memories of her to look back on.  And i know it.  That's how it is with all things.  I just wish i could get to that point already.   
But for now Artie-head, my baby girl, i just gotta keep swallowing the lump in my throat that forms whenever i think of you.  Because of all the dogs i've met in my life you were honestly, without a doubt, the best.

Our first day together, to our last.
 Love you.

Edit:  I can't forget that i owe a thank you to my dad for buying my ticket home, and to my mom and little sister for taking care of her while i couldn't be there. 


Judith said...

So sorry about Arctic. Sounds like she was a great friend. I'm glad you could be with her at the end. Dogs are always so loving to their family and it breaks my heart every time people start to neglect them just because they are getting old and less able. They deserve to get just as much love as they give.

I don't think it's cliche to say that you never know when you see someone last. It just luckily doesn't happen too often that we lose someone unexpectedly. Hopefully you can catch a break for now. Sending positive thoughts your way!

-phx- said...

Thanks, Judith. She was great indeed and will be sorely missed.
I never understood how people could treat their dogs that way either, it's heartbreaking. Dogs are so wonderful.
And thanks for your positive thoughts, i could really use those now.

Mum said...

We love her & miss her, too. She is such a loving & kind spirit. Best baby girl, ever. Always had puppy kisses for everyone she met, even our psycho cat, Diesel. RIP, Arctic. xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

J said...

I can't imagine what you've gone through..I have a 2 year old dog now, I'm still a noob. I'm scared to think about the time when she grows old, but gosh your story made me cry a good amount of tears. You hold so much love for your family and that is amazing. You are an amazing person and you can get through this! :)

-chai- said...

Thank you for such a nice comment, J. Having a dog is such a wonderful thing, but their lives are too fragile and short. Try not to think of that though, and just enjoy all the time you have with your dog. :)

Gina said...

I'm sorry about Arctic.

I'm a total dog person. Dogs really do become very important trusted members of our family's. And we feel their loss greatly.

I'm also glad you could be there at the end.

My last dog, I still feel her loss. And fwiw, I have 1 photo of her on my fridge way up high on the left. I look at it often and I miss her so much. Anyway, I just wanted to say, I understand completely and I am so sorry. : (

-chai- said...

Thanks Gina. I think it's definitely the same for most people with dogs, they really do become such a huge part of our lives and families.

DragonwomanJennyK said...

So sorry that your friend had to leave you behind and move on. I know what it is like losing your best friend. I was much younger than you are now, but just know that no matter how much time goes by, you will never forget all the love that she gave you and all the fun you both had. Treasure those memories and know that she will always be with you in your heart.

Anonymous said...

RIP Arctic

ra husky said...

Soft husky wooooos,

RA, Isis & Nanük

Martha Woods said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your furbaby...found your blog courtesy of your YouTube vid of Arctic and Kobie meeting the new kitty Diesel.

It sounds a little cliche to say it but with the best of friends, you never really say goodbye because they will always walk with you in your heart and soul. Sending positive thoughts your way!

XadarxBlack said...

ghh i have a husky and i think hes 7 years old :) his name is Rexy :) and i don't wanna lose him

Justin McGraw said...

Sorry about your loss. I enjoyed your story despite the sad content. You are right many people don't view pets as family. I am glad I was raised differently.

I have only seen my dad cry once in my life (24 years old) and it was the day our chocolate lab (Ranger) died. That dog was his absolute best friend on the planet. They went everywhere together, froze together while hunting, swam together at the lake, and ate together.

Thanks for the story and again I am sorry about your loss. No love and no loyalty is greater than a dogs towards his master/friend. One of the few beings on this planet that would lay their life down for you and never think twice.

Anonymous said...

i am so sorry about arctic i dont know her but still i felt bad because i love dogs more than anything else in the world i also want to be a vet doctor i have 2 dogs one mixed and one german shephard we had a dog he was so intelligent and lovely he died because of rabies doctors couldnt save him Dobby and Actic rest in peace!

Anonymous said...

Sigh... :( this is so sad...

Tamta said...

This is so sad and it honestly made me cry a little. I know this feeling. I grew up with a husky and had 12 wonderful years with him. I still didn't forget this wonderful friend and I never will. I still love him. I hope now you can look back happy. You deserve it. And I'm sure your babygirl would be very proud of your strength. All the best for you.
Arctic and Buck, we will never forget you <3

-chai- said...

Thank you to all of you above, for your kind thoughts and words.
Warm thoughts and love to all the doggy spirits who have touched our hearts.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. I just lost my Siberian Husky as well. June 29, 2013. She was 15 years old. I hope you have the peace and comfort knowing that she will be with you again one day. At least that's what I'm hoping for myself. :)

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