Just five more days was all we had with him.
When I took Avery to see the cardiologist last Monday, I knew his heart condition would shorten his life. But I had been thinking we'd have him with us for at least several more months, if not longer. Five months, maybe. Not five days.
On Friday morning, as we were letting the dogs out, Alayne noticed Avery didn't seem to be doing well -- kind of listless, not himself. He'd had diarrhea in his crate overnight, so we wrapped him in a towel and carried him outside. Alayne set him on the ground, and he just keeled over and lay on his side. She scooped him up, held him for a bit, and he seemed to perk up. She set him down again, and this time he was able to stand. He did his business (more diarrhea), and then just stood there, looking weak. Alayne picked him up and carried him into the house; I fixed up some bedding in a large open crate we call a "boat," and she set him down in it.
We could tell something was clearly wrong, and I told her I would go call the cardiologist and find out what Plan B was. Alayne stayed behind to pet him and love on him. I put two more dogs out on my way down the hall, and then went into the living room to find the cardiologist's business card. Just as I was heading up the stairs to my office to call him, Alayne came through the door. "He just died," she said, tears running down her face.
I was floored. Avery had seemed to make progress on his new heart medications, and our only thought was getting him rechecked by the cardiologist in two weeks. We never expected to lose him this soon.
Alayne and I walked down the hall way to the dog room. Avery was curled up on the bedding, looking like he was just sleeping. But he was gone. We wrapped the towel around him again and Alayne carried his body over to the twin bed along the wall. She sat down on the bed, cradling him and crying. Alayne had really understood Avery and his emotional needs; she had been so patient in working with him, and he responded to her like no one else.
Avery had been on the cover of our 2011 winter/holiday newsletter -- that's the photo above. I opened his story by writing, "Some dogs just never seem to get a break." After the awful life he'd suffered -- beaten by people, attacked by other dogs, eyes painfully swollen from untreated glaucoma -- he'd been turned into a Georgia shelter and was scheduled for euthanasia. That's when Avery finally got his break and came to us. Yet tragically, he was with us for just ten short months.
Rather than recount his full story in this blog post and explain how far he'd come, here's the page from the newsletter if you haven't already read it -- click on the image for a larger version: