A few days ago I posted about my Elka’s passing. She passed on Friday, December 17th surrounded by her family.
I expected grieving and sadness. A lot of it. She was Senior – she was here before all the other animals. She helped raise her brothers Milton and Eclipse. This post is about Milton . Elka was 14 1/2. Milton 12 1/2.
Saturday Milton was sad but played fetch, ate. We played fetch a lot, I kept taking the dogs outside, keeping them active even though I wanted to sink into a puddle and cry. We helped each other.
Sunday… I woke up to vomit and sickness. He turned down food; not unusual for him, he’d often do that for a few days in a row. He took a treat, ok. He turned down dinner.
I invited my partner over to hang out, then dad visited for a little while. I didn’t know Milton was sick, only 💔
Sunday night I tried to get Milton out of the den and all 4 feet went out from under him. Mobility issues were not part of his problems, though he had a diagnosis of atypical Cushing and 7 years of 6+ minute seizures… in clusters. But he could stand, move, jump, fetch. He was ball obsessed.
I chose not to take him to the vet and wait for Monday, hoping he was lethargic from grief. Monday …. He can barely stand and walk. We go to the vet and it’s a “strange presentation” – nothing on X-ray. IV meds and fluids and he could walk again but had to go to the hospital for overnight care. The hospital had an ultrasound.
My partner came over early to care for my youngest dog – who has not spent even 1 minute in this house without at least one other dog here. At 5pm I pick up Milton and transfer him to the hospital. An hour later…. Milton has 3 very large tumors between his liver and spleen. He didn’t have them in August when he was ultrasounded for Cushings. Did I want to aspirate and see if we could do a surgical intervention? The vet would write up an estimate. But… she was also confident. Very aggressive sarcoma, likely hermangiosarcoma. Metastatized. I googled while she estimated. Even with surgery and a good outcome …. maybe 3 months. I tell her to cancel the estimate and prepare his journey to the 🌈 bridge. Did I want to be with him? I needed to be. He needed me.
They brought me into a room to spend time with him. He looked sedated, tongue hanging out, eyes blurry. But he looked up when he saw me, he tried to get up and come to me off the gurney. I’m so grateful that he recognized me and knew I was there.
Euthanasia at the vet was different than at home. She didn’t talk me through the shots, go slowly. One moment he was with me and the next moment he had passed. It felt much more traumatic than the at-home euthanasia, but it may have been easier for my Milton.
Milton was… a golden in a long line of fosters that Elka helped me to raise. Milton made me a foster failure. He would run laps around the yard for hours, even after long walks and daycare. He never should have been a suburban dog, but I loved him and he loved me. He then helped me to raise many foster dogs.
This morning, I didn’t have to measure out meds for his 7am suite of pills for his epilepsy and … I’ve been doing that for 7 years. 7am and 7pm. I didn’t even know how to do morning today.
Milton taught me a lot. He taught me about ball obsession, and loving puppies while hating boys bigger than him. He taught me to time seizures and he taught me not to panic, but instead to sing. He’d randomly come up with his ball and drop it in a lap with that eager look. Just one throw, please?
Elka was with me for 14 years and Milton for 12 and I’ve lost them both in 3 days of each other. My world is shattered and my heart is in pieces.
(Pictured: Milton, a golden retriever mix, in various life stages. Some with Elka (black and tan) and one with Ben, a parvo puppy that we fostered and saved.)