I wrote about Phoebe’s Meadow, as a dedication and promise to my dog, Phoebe Zephyr, who has now passed on. The abrupt and tragic passing was due to the suddenly rapid deterioration of her liver, which had a shunt. Her passing is the single most devastating thing to happen to me in my life.
She woke up very sick on a Wednesday morning before work. My wife called me, frantic, and I rushed to meet them at the vet. The news was bad. The doctors at the vet that we’d been taking her to for her whole life said that Phoebe wanted to die, and that her liver was the problem. They suggested putting her down right on the spot, but we refused. There was no way that we could accept that outcome at that moment.
Phoebe was beyond just a special dog to us. My wife and I married young, at twenty two years old. She never wanted children, and even though I did, I loved her so much that I agreed that if it was our destiny to never have children, then I would be ok with it, and I promised to never resent her for it. We got Phoebe a few years later, as a six week old puppy.
We probably didn’t realize it at the time, but because we agreed not to have kids, Phoebe became that kid. She brought us closer and gave us something to pour our hearts into. As more time passed, we treated Phoebe more like a kid, taking her everywhere with us. We pioneered driving in the car with her hanging out of the driver’s side window. She was always on my lap. We took her to kids parties, we bought her clothes every week, and we went to places just because they were dog friendly. We even stopped going to movie theatres and instead opted for the drive-ins because we could all be together. We lived like that for almost ten years. We called her our dogter.
People often say that they love their dogs, and I’m sure they do. Few though, are truly dog people. Phoebe was literally the center of our universe. When we fought, we talked about visitation rights, and who would get full custody. When we fought, Phoebe would get sad and sulk in the corner. Our feelings were very real, and she, Phoebe, knew it. This was why we could not accept what the vet told us.
We went to another vet, visiting a person that we knew personally. There are many reasons that we had not taken her there in the first place, but the main reason was because she was not a vet when we started off with Phoebe and her numerous health issues. We thought that we trusted her original vet. We turned out to have made a deadly mistake.
The new vet, our friend, told us that we should have been treating the liver shunt with medication the entire time. It was what ultimately killed her. The toxins were too much and they attacked her brain. We were too sad to be livid, but as more time goes by, that truth, that our first vet did not prescribe something that was explained to us as “routine”, absolutely kills me. It means that Phoebe did not have to die yet.
I don’t know what I can do yet. Nothing will bring my Phoebe back. She died in my arms from a lethal injection one day after her 11th birthday. It was devastating. I am still devastated by it. We gave her almost eleven years of love as the center of our lives. Sadly, during the past few months of her life, she fell from that special place, as the birth of our daughter changed our entire dynamic.
Our daughter demanded our full attention. I wish though, that I knew what was happening with Phoebe. I feel so much guilt and regret that she did not spend her last few months and weeks with more attention from me. It shreds my heart knowing that I was ignoring her and unable to yet find balance in my life with her place set. My life has been out of balance. I could not balanced the new baby, working out, writing, working, eating, taking care of my Phoebe, or anything else.
Maybe it’s foolish of me to think that I could have saved her, but I think that too. Maybe I would have acted faster, or actually noticed something wrong. I don’t know. It’s too late now. She is gone forever, and her last days were the worst. We tried to save her with liver shunt medication and other medications. We went through a week of hope and despair. Our emotions shot up with happiness, thinking that each thing we tried might work, and then they fell hard when she did not improve. It was unbearable. I went through bouts of heavy crying during her last week with us. I knew a few days before she left that she was already gone. I cried hard then. Her mind was gone.
She came back only once, many days before she died, to give my wife and I “family kissies”, which was when we all three put our faces together and kissed. She licked our faces like crazy. I am so thankful for that. I hope it is the last thing that she remembered. She was gone for good after that. She wouldn’t eat. We force fed her with feeding tube, but she wouldn’t eat on her own. On the night before we put her down, she locked herself in a corner and cried. I could not take it. The next day she died in my arms -her favorite place to be. Her passing was peaceful and painless.
Rest in peace my baby dogter. Wait for us in the meadow. We will be with you soon. We will all be together again. Until then, we carry you with us always. You will always be our first baby. I love you.
Phoebe Zephyr Huerta, Aug 19, 2001 – Aug 18, 2012