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Monday, May 21, 2012

Ms. Coco Chanel

Ms. Coco Chanel at age 2
Oh, she's as cute as cute can be, alright, but she's so damn smart, it's scary.

I'm speaking, of course, of the one, the only, Ms. Coco Chanel, the amazing Havanese pup.

Well, she's not a pup so much any more. She's seven years old, already, but she's always been cute and bossy and sassy and just as smart as a whip.

She's a rescue dog - all our pups are -  but we haven't told her that. Well, we have but she won't listen. She knows better. She rescued us because obviously, she was born to be Queen and we are worthy enough subjects.

She knows the days of the week - especially Monday and Friday when work begins and ends, and she definitely knows Saturday and Sunday, but she also knows our schedules pretty well and plans her day accordingly. 

She knows how to tell time - especially when it's time to eat and barks to remind us when it's time to be fed. She knows what time Ms. Conroy will return from work and begins to take up her post by the door to be first in line to greet her.

She knows what suitcases mean and is the first at the door as long as there is a suitcase in view. She hates for her "pack" to be separated so she often comes in and barks for everyone to be in the same room that she has decided we all need to be at that particular time.

Mr. Lenny Bruce Brisco
She is the only female dog (of three) and is the Alpha dog in the house (but, of course). She makes sure her boys are clean, spending long minutes cleaning Lenny's eyes. He's our Shih Tzu and let's just say that Lenny takes the 'short bus' to school.

She also loves to play tricks on Lenny. When we lived in the rectory in Chatham, she would come downstairs to the TV room, spot Lenny sitting on the chair and decide that just wasn't right. So, she would start to bark as if someone were at the door and run up and down the stairs, calling Lenny with great alarm and urgency.

Poor Lenny would run up the stairs, barking the whole way. Ms. Coco would then saunter back down the stairs and sit exactly where Lenny was sitting. Meanwhile, Poor Lenny was upstairs, at the back door, looking around, quite bewildered.

We called it "Dog TV". It was quite entertaining and better than any sit-com.

Ms. Coco is pretty nonplussed by Theo and he with her. They are, however, "barking buddies".

One will tip off the other if a car dares come down the street and too close to the house. They both share a dislike of the garbage truck and, God forbid a delivery is made to our door. Theo and Ms. Coco race each other to the door to let us know that an intruder has arrived.

Ms. Coco is Ms. Conroy's girl - no question about that - but the one thing she shares with Theo is an adoration of Ms. Conroy.

I wish I had a picture of the two of them, one on one pillow of the love seat, the other on the other, with Ms. Conroy in between them both.

It happens every night, about 30 minutes after Ms. Conroy arrives home from work and gets settled in. It's really very sweet.

Ms. Coco is also the unofficial harbor master here on Rehoboth Bay. No pontoon or speedboat, no jet ski or canoe or paddle boat can come by the house without a stern warning from Ms. Coco.

Everyone with a boat calls to her, "Hey, Ms. Coco!"

She even barks at the Canada geese and Mallard and Hooded Mergenser ducks who swim by. The Canada geese come close and honk back at her. The Mallards and Mergensers also come close and stare at her quizzically until she stops.

We call it Dog TV - Rehoboth Bay version.

For the past 18 months, Ms. Coco has had some behavior changes. She's gotten "snappy" and growls more often than she used to. She was never really good with small children - mainly because she could neither predict nor control their behavior - but she wasn't bad.

Just about a year ago, she had a seizure. She was staying with a friend who said that her back legs went out and she was dazed and confused for about 5 minutes. Our friend immediately called Ms. Conroy at work who immediately came home and took her to our vet.

Blood work was done along with a thorough exam but Dr. D said that he feared it might not be metabolic. A few days later, the tests confirmed his suspicions: Ms. Coco has a brain tumor.  Within a week, you could actually feel where it is in her head.

Our Vet said that he could do lots of tests that would be very expensive but they would only tell us what he already knew. Keep her comfortable, he said. Enjoy her. Come back and talk to me if her quality of life begins to be compromised.

We're beginning to reach that point.

She's been having little seizures - nothing dramatic....well, that we've been able to witness - but she has tremors and then she is very confused and licks and licks and licks her paws. Sometimes, after she has a seizure, she is so confused she doesn't know where she is or who we are and she growls and snaps and gets very aggressive.

Last night, she had two seizures while we were sleeping. It startled her awake and she growled and snapped at Ms. Conroy. It was very distressing. She must have aspirated after the last seizure because she spent from about 5 AM to 9 AM trying to bring up something in her throat. I was afraid she was going to choke to death.

Ms. Coco, this morning
She's settled down now and has been sleeping most of the day away.

I went in to check on her and she looked at me as if to say, "Fix this."

Broke. My. Heart.

We've tried to give her "doggy Tylenol", which used to help, but where she once ate it up like a special treat, she now refuses it.

We are entering into that phase of illness which is not afforded to humans. We have to determine the markers of 'quality of life' before we decide whether or not to take measures to end her misery.

For the past two mornings, she has refused breakfast, but she has eaten her supper. She has also eaten a few doggie cookies. She is drinking water. She does have a terrible odor around her mouth and nose. I can only imagine that it's the cancer. It sure smells like the stuff I remember before we had the diagnostic tools and the surgical techniques to remove the cancerous tumor before it was inoperable.

She is not incontinent. She does not appear to be in any pain, thank God.

The incidence of seizures seems to be increasing and, after them, her aggression, which is an increasing concern. She has not bitten either one of us but I really fear it's just a matter of time.

She's due to go to the groomer on Wednesday with the boys but we agree that grooming is not a top priority right now. We fear that will just be too much stress.

We're going to have to make a decision - soon - sooner than either of us will ever be ready for it. Actually, any time it's necessary to make this decision will be a time that's too soon.

Ms. Coco asking, again, "Fix this, please."
But, at least we have the power to end her suffering, when that time comes. Humans are not that fortunate.

Not unless there are doctors and nurses who are willing to look the other way.

We want to make sure that it's her suffering we're ending and not our inability to see her suffer. As long as she's not in pain and can still enjoy being Queen and Harbor Master, we can put up with just about anything. 

To try and get my mind off my distress, I've been reading over the "Blue Book" (now a lovely color I would guess is salmon). It's good preparation for General Convention, but it's also a wonderful distraction and welcome diversion.

I am especially grateful for the report from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music.

Included in their work is a list of prayers for creation, with a page (350) entitled, "Prayers Suitable for Use in Church or for Other Gatherings, at the Adoption, Illness, Loss, or Death of a Companion, Service or Other Beloved Animals".

I ask you to join me in praying this prayer "For an infirm animal"
God, whose compassion and mercy are over all your works: Hear our prayers for Ms. Coco Chanel, this creature of yours, in her infirmity. Free her from suffering and from fear; bring her healing and repose; and comfort the hearts of those burdened with anxiety, especially Ms. Conroy and Elizabeth. We pray through your beloved Child Jesus and by the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Thank you.

I know that, with your prayers and God's help, we'll be able to make it through this difficult time.

I just wish I could answer Ms. Coco's request and just "fix this".

I know I can't. So, I write and I pray. And, I write as prayer.

Besides cuddling and loving her, it's really all I know to do.


Lis Jacobs said...

My prayers are with all of you. You are amazing in your ability to not just deal with this but to also write about it. While I know writing cathartic, I'd be a blithering idiot right every time she asked me to fix it. Please give her a belly rub for me and Ollie.

JCF said...

Oh, Elizabeth: prayers!!


{{{Coco's Pack}}}

Jim O said...

My dear,

When the time comes, you will know what to do, and she will be healed.

Been there. Done that. Never easy to say goodbye, but our faith tells us the goodbye is not forever, although we sure don't know more than that.

Fran said...

It is me Fran, just from my work ID. I am so sorry to read this, my heart and prayers to you all. We are in a situation with our Gracie, so in whatever way I can know how you feel (which of course I cannot), I well - well, you know.

You have given her so much love and will continue to do so. And that is the greatest gift we can offer, our lives. Peace and consolation to you on this difficult part of the path.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, my dear "Anonymous". I know it's my own projection of powerlessness to help, but when she looks soulfully into my eyes and wants to cuddle, I'm a puddle.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, JCF.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jim O - thank you.

RENZ said...

Now that I've wiped the tears away, prayers for Miss Coco and you all. What you are facing is the hardest, best thing we can do for our four legged companions. Will send the love of the whole pack your way from the Upper Peninsula.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Fran - I'm so sorry to hear about Gracie. Didn't she just arrive at your home? I will say that lovely prayer in the SCLM report for Gracie and her "pack". Much love.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you RENZ. I know you are "owned" by quite a few four-leggeds. I appreciate your prayers.

Mary-Cauliflower said...

Prayers go with you. It's a very deep grief, but please know that we're all witnessing with you and Miss Coco.

Fran said...

Thank you so much Elizabeth.

Gracie came to our pack in October 2008... she was at a shelter and we were told that she was 5 or 6. The years have revealed that that could not have been the case. It matters not, we have loved her from the time we laid eyes on her and will continue to do so. We almost lost her in December, but she rallied. Who knows what will happen this time.

Our prayers for you and our gratitude to you for the ones you send forth on Gracie's behalf.

Shelley B. Kesselman said...

I'm very sorry to hear of this, Elizabeth. It's so hard to say good bye to a beloved friend! My prayers are with all of you.

We went through a similar situation last fall with our 18 year old Siamese cat. He let us know when he was ready to go home, and although it was with many tears that Jeff and I gave him back to God, we are convinced that we timed it exactly right. I suspect that Coco will let you know when it's time.

whiteycat said...

Human and cat prayers coming you way for Miss Coco and your family. These little creatures grab your heart and don't let go. I'll pray for guidance that you know what to do and when to do it. Also, healing prayers for all.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Prayers from here. Lots of them with emphatic intensity. When I get home from work tonight, I will tell Boomer and Little Eddie. I'll explain to Boomie that it was one of the dogs he heard on the phone the other day and I'm sure he would tell Ms. Coco he wishes he could come out and be the "helper dog." Eddie might suggest that when the time comes, Mr. Willis Woo will meet up with Coco and they will have a grand time. He loved little dogs, even little dogs that think they are big dogs (like Eddie.)

June Butler said...

Oh, Elizabeth! My sympathy to you and Ms Conroy. My prayers are with you both in this oh-so-difficult time.

Love and blessings.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Mary-C

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Fran - That's the problem with rescue dogs. You never really know. All you know is love. It is transformative.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Shelley - I am praying for the wisdom to know how to "translate" what Ms. Coco is saying.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Whiteycat - Cats are very, very wise, so I especially appreciate their prayers for wisdom. Thanks for yours, too.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - Ms. Coco just jumped up on my lap and said thank you to Eddie and Boomer.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mimi - Thanks, my dear. Your prayers are very meaningful to me.

Muthah+ said...

It is so hard to watch those who have provided such comfort for us fail. My heart is with both of you, dear friends. Prayers ascend for all 5 of you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

'Tis, Muthah. I came in just a bit ago from a Vestry meeting/presentation and she showered me with kisses. An hour from now, she may be growling and snapping. I'm going to try to crush a dogggie Tylenol in some PB and see if she'll take it. We take the good with the bad and try to keep her as comfortable as possible.

Thanks so much for your prayers.

Anonymous said...

Prayers of calming ascending for Miss Coco and Prayers of comfort and wisdom for you and Ms Conroy. Prayers and compassion ascending for Theo and Linny.

Bateau Master said...

There will be a goofy lab named Foster who can look after Ms. Coco and there's Boomer, Mac, & Angie too. They will keep her company until you see her again.

Right now just love her - for she surely loves you and Ms Conroy.



David said...

(((((((Elizabeth))))))) love and prayers for all concerned.

Lindy said...

Let your presence and your love be a comfort to Ms. Coco, and to each other too.

You have difficult decisions to make, I know. Just trust yourselves, you'll do the right thing. No doubt about that.

I'll be praying with you.


Holly said...

Oh, my heart and prayers go out to you. A few months ago I lost my dear, sweet Whitaker Bits to an aggressive and painful fibrosarcoma. Your heart knows/will know when the time is right and through the tears on her well-licked face, Ms Conroy will send her off with whispers of love.


motheramelia said...

Lots of love and prayers going your way. I just went through that and I still grieve. Maybe Ms. Coco will meet up with Izzie at the Rainbow Bridge. They have (had) similar personalities.

Paul said...

Prayers for Ms Coco and the entire household. May you all be guided aright and held in love.

Matthew said...

Lots of prayers and love. These decisions are so hard. I also pray for you and Ms Conroy. Be strong and tender. Matthew

Suzer said...

So sorry to read this, Elizabeth. It is never an easy thing to go through. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and especially with Miss Coco.

Suzer said...

Don't know if my comment went through, as Google gave me an error message. Suffice it to say, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and esp. with Miss Coco.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you all so much for your prayers. Ms. Coco Chanel had a better night last night. I had ground up some doggy Tylenol and Benadryl and she slept peacefully. She seems alert and not in pain today, although, I did try to sneak her some more doggy Tylenol, just as an ounce of prevention and she walked away from me, shooting me a really filthy look. God love her, she's as feisty as I am.

One day at a time. With your prayers and God's help, we'll make it through this.

JCF said...

TBTG for better days and nights.

Still praying...

it's margaret said...

Oh... Ms. Coco.

And prayers for you both --and the boys. What a pissin' difficult time. Much love to you.

And Mr. Witty lifts a soft paw in the air as a prayer.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF and Margaret - Thanks so much for your prayers. One day at a time. One day at a time.

Caminante said...

Prayers for all of you... She will let you know when it is time... but oh so heartbreaking for all of you. I join in prayer.