The too early goodbye <3
Wasn't it yesterday that Mason and I were wasting time before his sisters middle school softball game and decided to pop our heads in a pet store? We didn't know it that day, but our lives would change forever. 17 & 18 year old kids who barely had two nickels to rub together, but there we were, at the cash register with a new 5 week old puppy.
And so our life began with NALA. It started out rocky, as she suffered from parvo and barely made it. But she was tough and STUBBORN and knew she had more to give in this life.
I went on to raise Nala while Mason was away at college. She jumped apartment to apartment with me through WVU and would take car trips to visit daddy at school. She was my best friend and every bit of Mason and I's entire relationship. We can't remember life together without her.
She was there through our college graduations, to her mommy and daddy getting engaged and married, to moving in together for the first time, buying our first home, relocation after relocation for the military, welcoming our newest addition this past August, Marra Jae, and even saw daddy off to his first deployment.
She made our home a happy one. If you know her, you can imagine how painful it is to walk in the door and not get her greeting today. She was known for them. She had this presence that would light up a room. SO GOOFY !!!! Diving into pillows for no reason at all, or because she just ate. Bringing toys to us randomly and giving us the EYE that we better play with her! lol. She would cry because she was hungry, just so someone would tell her to go eat. ( she had food in her bowl). She loved attention. She loved praise. She loved being a part of our family.
And she was just that, family. Not just a dog.
Nala was loyal to Mason and I. BEYOND LOYAL. If we had to guess, we think she might have suffered from a bit of anxiety. She didn't thrive well being away from us if we were gone for a trip or a long weekend.
And of all her goodness, we couldn't deny that she was a " special" dog. Nala had aggression issues since she was two. One day, something switched and all of sudden animals were not her friend. ANY animal. No warning signs that were distinct enough to recognize, just ATTACK. In her later years, around 5 and 6 it rolled into children, having three instances just in our family alone. It could have been earlier, but she was never associated with kids until then for us to realize it was an issue.
But because Nala was INCREDIBLE with us and other adults, and since we didn't have other pets or kids, we knew Nala would and could still live a happy life in our home.
Fast forward to Oct 2015 when we get the news we are expecting. With as much joy as can come from such amazing news, Mason, myself and our families were worried. It was a topic of conversation almost monthly up until the big day. And when Marra arrived, we listened to all of the advice on how to introduce the two.
And as expected, Nala didn't care for her...... at first.
Within the first two months Nala had lunged after Marra TWICE, both times in which Mason was able to interfere. My mom heart was just absolutely broken, but we knew we could never give up on her. With time, Nala came around. She was included in bedtime routine where her job was to jump up on the changing pad and give Marra's feet kisses and she took neighborhood walks with her sister. We wanted Nala to understand this new little human was part of our pack.
As Marra grew, Nala observed. She became quite interested in her new pal. Nala especially loved when this new THING was able to sit in a highchair. It had been 6 months now since any incident at all. We were starting to trust our pup. She started following me into Marra's room at night and laid at my feet as I rocked her to sleep. She would lick Marra's hands squeaky clean after highchair time. When we would come home from errands, Nala had to see where her baby was and give her kisses. As Marra was now sitting up, Nala would lay next to her or walk by her and sniff her head and wag her tail.
Then Marra started to crawl. And while Nala was never aggressive, I could feel her nerves. She was anxious when Marra would crawl to her and it became a habit in our home to say, " watch out Nally, she's coming" in which Nala would get up on her own, walk past the baby, and remove herself.
But this was our life. These were our babies. I lived always knowing EXACTLY where both babies were at all times. I'd never let myself get too far.
And then last weekend happened.
Marra crawled in my room, and a few feet behind her, I am walking. She turns the corner into our bedroom bathroom and boom.
I didn't know Nala was at her food bowl. HOW DID I NOT KNOW.
Reliving this moment absolutely pains me. But what felt like I turned my head for a second, was a second too late.
I heard Marra scream. And my heart SANK, I just KNEW what happened. I sprinted in to see Marra face down in a pile of her own blood. It's everywhere. I am screaming for my friend to call 911. And for myself, I think I go into shock. Nala was nowhere to be found at this point, and all I can do is sit on the floor and rock my baby grabbing all of the clothes on the floor around me to try and stop the blood. I can't see her face, I don't WHERE she had been bit. All I knew was blood was everywhere, her eye was swollen shut, and Marra's screams are locked in my memory.
We rush outside to the ambulance, and we're off. Watching my daughter, covered in blood, get her clothes cut off of her, placed on a stretcher and wheeled into the emergency room.
All I can say is we are SO SO SO lucky. 5 stitches in her head, and a couple under her eye. It was the longest and most excruciating day of my life, until today.
We knew in that moment, that Nala couldn't be in our home. I can't even tell you the amount of heartbreak that Mason and I are dealing with. We knew in that moment, that because we could have lost one baby, we had to make the decision to let go of our other one.
But with Florida laws, came rules. And we had to wait a 10 day period for the procedure. Believe it or not, I could only NOT look at Nala for ONE day. One full day of zero communication. Only acknowledging her to say " let's go potty."
The minute we arrived back home, my happy dog saw us open the door. For the first time in 8 1/2 years, we didn't get the greet we were used to. Her head was down and her tail was low. I said nothing. She slowly walked over to me as I was holding my sleeping stitched baby. I said nothing. She started licking the backs of my legs. I did nothing.
I couldn't yell at her, it was too late. I couldn't look at her because I was so heartbroken. I felt as if I didn't know her.
but TIME happened.
And within 3 days of the incident, Nala collapses in our backyard. If you can picture me alone with a newly stitched up baby, a deployed husband, and a dog who is now clearly showing signs of illness. I call my mom in panic as of what to do. Within 10 minutes, my best friend is here to take Marra, and I rush Nala to a vet.
By the time we arrive, she seems fine. Her vitals were fine. I was convinced on my drive there that this was it. I was going to take Nala and have to say goodbye. My heart wasn't ready. But they sent us home and told us to wait out our remaining days. Again, agony. I knew in my heart something wasn't right.
At this point, we have set up an in home service so Nala can go comfortably and in peace. The service set for June 1, 2017. The earliest date outside of the time we had to wait for the procedure.
That's 7 more days together. So for the next seven days my husband and I are back and forth, making ourselves CRAZY. What if she's ill? What if we can get her help? What if we find the best trainer in Jacksonville.
We seeked out trainer opinions, we seeked opinions from other vets. To all but one, Nala was considered unstable.
Mason and I became angry. Finding ourselves trying to justify her actions. Needless to say, Marra is healing beautifully. You cannot even tell! The memories are distancing themselves and our focus has moved on to trying to save our dogs life.
The day before her passing, I am having a consultation with a trainer here in Jacksonville and I am about to hand her off for a 4-7 week training. A training that could undo 8 1/2 years of bad habits, aggression, and anxiety. A training that would require INTENSE attention and discipline on Mason and I's part. A training that would allow Nala to continue to stay in our home upon return with the understanding that no matter how CHANGED ( in a good way ) she becomes, we must continue to keep the dog and baby a part.
I WAS READY.
Our families talked, we faught, we cried. But there was always ONE point none of us could disagree on.
" WHAT IF"
What if, for a second, two years from now Marra runs up to the gate while I am not looking and BOOM.
What if, for one second, Nala shows incredible change for YEARS, we get lazy on the discipline, and BOOM.
What if, or rather WHEN we bring more children into this world, should we lose focus.
And at 5 pm on the final day, we come to the agreement to stick with our in home appointment schedule.
Which brings me to my today, having held my furbaby in my arms and sobbed as she went to heaven. She seized again today, as almost a sign from above that we are making the right choice. That maybe she was ill. Maybe had she lived would we have a long and suffering ending for her.
I'll never know.
I'll know never if we made the right choice.
Coming back to this blog as I just answered the phone from Nala's vet to learn her autopsy revealed she was in a very late stage of cancer. There were tons of nodules revealed on her lungs which typically means it spread from somewhere else.
I find relief in knowing my baby didn't have to fight the long fight. <3