|Ms. Coco Chanel at age 2|
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 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.
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|
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."|
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.