In August of 2017 we learned that my beloved Siberian Husky, Kodiak, was diagnosed with cancer. We sought a second opinion with a surgeon, drove him to an animal hospital 2 hours away. The surgeon concluded that he could operate, remove the mass, but that it would be more for us, than for Kodi. He warned that the surgery would likely not extend his life at all, but could possibly end it and would mean the pain of surgery and recovery during what could be his last months. They estimated his life expectancy to be 2 months to 1 year.
We decided against any chemotherapy, since that could mean nausea, sickness, pain, etc. The surgeon said, “This dog has no idea at this point that anything is wrong, let him be happy and enjoy his time.”
Since then, Kodi has had good days and bad. He’d continued to want to walk, to play in the yard, to be with me while I shoveled snow, etc. His eating habits were sporadic, sometimes eating more than one meal a day (a very unusual occurrence for Kodi), but other times he went as long as 5 days without eating. His bowel movements were sporadic as well, but this was expected, as the mass was in his left anal gland, and the larger it got, the more difficulty he would have moving his bowels.
Sometime in January, I noticed he was becoming reluctant to go for longer walks, or wanting to sit down on our walks for a few moments. I reduced the distance we were walking and stayed closer to home. He still wanted to go, seemed to enjoy checking out the neighborhood and once it snowed, he wanted out in the snow a lot, wanted to play ball in the backyard.
On February 9, when we came home from grocery shopping, he was waiting in the kitchen, as always, ‘woo wooing’ at me when I came in. He ran to the door as he always did, for me to take him out to potty, then we would usually walk around the block for a quick explore and to exercise his legs a little. He fell on the tile floor, but quickly stood and went to the door. He limped on his left hind leg for a couple steps, but seemed to be back to normal quickly.
Saturday and Sunday we played in the yard and walked. My husband walked him in the morning on both Saturday and Sunday, letting me sleep in a little. We all walked together in the evenings and played in the yard. He seemed to stand up more slowly, but shook it off quickly.
Sunday night he jumped up on the bed and curled up to sleep, as always. At 4:00 Monday morning when hubby wanted to take him out, which was routine, he didn’t want to get down off the bed. After some coaxing, he jumped down, but was wobbly and moving slow. He went out, went potty, then came back in. He wouldn’t get back up on the bed. He laid down on the floor. A couple hours later, I heard him getting a drink and realized he was leaning against the dresser with his left hind foot off the floor.
When I went to him, he leaned against my right leg, while I rubbed his left hind leg, which I’d taken to do when he was feeling stiff. At first he growled at me, but seemed to enjoy it, once it got warm. He laid back down. I got a beach towel out to use as a sling so I could assist him to go outside. He didn’t want to go.
After calling my husband and asking him to come home, calling the Vet and talking to them, we knew that he wasn’t able to stand on his own, seemed to be in a lot of pain. It was then that we knew the time had come to say goodbye.
My husband carried him to the car and I sat in the backseat with him. He gripped my leg and arm with his front paws, pulling me against him. When I had to get out of the car at the Vet’s he gripped me harder, not wanting me to get out.
The Vet said his muscles were wasting because of the cancer and he was probably masking the pain, not wanting me to know how much pain he was in. He’d lost a little more than 10 lbs. since September.
When it was time, I held him in my arms. He kissed me three or four times, as he lay down on the floor with me. I cried, told him how much I love him, thanked him for everything he did for me, how he’d saved me, supported me, and apologized for not being able to have more time with him.
He died, peacefully, in my arms.
I am devastated, hollow, completely empty, lost. He was my constant companion for 10 years. The only time we were separated was when I had to run errands, when I spent a night in the hospital. I didn’t do a thing without him.
When my power chair broke down 2 years ago, I didn’t start walking for myself, it was very painful and I’d been warned in the past not to do any percussive activity. I walked for Kodi, because he needed to have the exercise, didn’t deserve to have to be limited to just the backyard. He had become my personal trainer. Sitting between my feet, when I needed to sit down on our walks, but not allowing me to sit for long, wanting me to get up and keep moving. Because of Kodi, with his help, I’ve lost 191 lbs. He watched over me when I was out in the yard, hanging up laundry, when I tried to help with yard work, or just sitting in the fresh air enjoying the sunshine and breeze. He laid between my feet when in the house, followed me to the bathroom, stayed on the bed with me when I napped and slept. I shared my meals with him.
He’d seemed to instinctively know how I needed help with things, and without much training at all, he learned to pick things up for me, retrieve things, help me take my clothes off. He never let me out of his line of sight and came without being called if I needed help.
Though we have 2 cats (one who is 17, the other 15), the house is incredibly empty and lonely. I’ve forced myself to continue walking, but my walks are aimless, and at times I get home, but don’t remember where I went or how I got there. It’s hard to even look up, to face anyone, as people in the neighborhood have started to see me alone and ask where Kodi is.
Still breaking down a couple of times a day, still not sure how I’m going to do this alone… I suspect this will be the norm for some time to come. I had become completely dependent on him being with me. He was my confidante, companion, best friend.
Goodbye, my darling Kodi. I love you, always. I miss you.
Rest in Peace, my sweet boy.
December 16, 2007 – February 12, 2018