Yesterday was a sad day in the Tiemann household. We lost our dear friend, furry family member, and canine companion, Maya.

Years and years ago, we were looking for a dog. We knew we wanted a young dog, but not a puppy. We were hoping for a housebroken dog that would be good with children, as we had a one year old baby, but scary to potential intruders. After some research we learned that labs or shepherds were our best bet for all that we were wanting. We talked about it with a couple of people, and one of Shawn's friends put us in touch with someone in her family that was wanting to re-home their two or three year old lab. They said they had been too busy to give her the time she deserved, as they had older kids that were quite active in sports and such. We set up a time for them to bring her over and visit, so we could get to know her, and the family could get to know us. Instantly I knew, she was meant to be a part of our family. She was very large, but oh so gentle. She became our girl about a week or so later.

Her name was Maya. She was a black lab and golden retriever mix. She was housebroken, but did tinkle a little when excited. She liked to climb on the couch and snuggle. This was a habit I wasn't thrilled with but dealt with because she wasn't hurting anything, just taking up a lot of space. (As the years went on and she no longer could get on the couch, I missed it.) She let Ben climb all over her, even riding her like a horse on occasion. She was strong and gentle, and didn't like strangers coming near the home, like meter readers. I remember the first time I saw her hackles raised and her teeth bared. She was growling and spitting at an AT&T man, and it truly terrified me.

We liked to take her to Shawn's parent's house because they have lots of space she could run in. We took her to Shawn's sister's graduation party where we didn't pay as much attention as we should have, and she ate half a tray of deli meat before we caught her.

She liked to run off and the first house we lived in with her, didn't have a fully fenced backyard. When she would go play outside, we'd have to tether her to a tree with a long lead. She was so smart that she would rub her neck and collar against the tree until she hit the clip on the lead just right and it would unclip from her collar. We'd go out side and she'd be gone, and we'd holler for her a few times, and most the time she'd come running from somewhere in the neighborhood.  Only a couple times did we ever have to chase her down with the car, or walk through the neighborhood calling her name.

She really liked diapers. She would eat them, but not just dirty ones. Don't get me wrong, she liked to eat dirty diapers and poop from the cat box, but she also really liked clean diapers. She would eat a whole case of clean diapers.

As the years went on, her jumping and running became less and less and eventually she developed a limp. Somedays, she couldn't do stairs, or need assistance getting up off the ground. We took her to the vet who told us that she had arthritis from a previous injury in both back legs. Her hips bothered her quite often as well.  She put on weight and we struggled to get it back off again. Even then, she stayed the loving girl we fell in love with years ago.

Last year, during a regular check up, they found out she had heart worms. After further testing we found that it was maybe one or two heart worms and made the decision to do a slow kill instead of aggressive. We were worried what the aggressive treatment plan would do to our 10 or 11 year old dog. Our vet seemed confident in the slow kill treatment plan, which included heavy duty antibiotics as well as Heart Guard. She seemed to handle it well, and our lives went on.

In the cooler weather, she would act like a puppy again. Handling stairs with only a little difficulty, if any. In snow, she'd run, play, and even occasionally jump. She seemed totally fine.

Sunday night, I let the dogs inside. I usually let them in upstairs so Maya can go downstairs on the slick indoor stairs rather than up. Duchess came right in, but Maya didn't come when I hollered.  I could here her below the deck, drinking water from their 5 gallon bucket like a crazy dog. Eventually she came up the deck stairs and inside the house.  She seemed fine. Monday, she got up and went outside first thing in the morning, just like normal.  She was fine and normal all day long. Monday night, when it was time to put the pups to bed, she didn't want to leave her bucket of water and I almost left her outside over night. (She has a big fluffy bed outside as well as in the garage so she never has to lay on hard ground.) I did worry that it might get chilly over night, so I waited patiently for her to come in and go to bed. I gave them loves and off to bed I went as well.

Letting the dogs out and feeding them is Ben's job. He wants a pug, so he has to learn responsibility before we even discuss this. He's been doing well with this but sometimes needs some reminding. Well, we were busy and Shawn was in Chicago, so we didn't let the dogs out until after breakfast. Maya didn't come with Duchess, which isn't abnormal, since she's a lot slower, but she wasn't on her bed either.  Ben told me that she had puked and wouldn't get up. I panicked but asked she was doing. Ben and Sydney told me she was just looking at them and not trying to get up. I came downstairs and said "Come on Maya, time to go outside and go potty." She just looked at me with those big dark eyes. She didn't even move her head. I said "Come on Maya. Let's go." and stomped my foot. She didn't even flinch. At that moment, I realized something was really wrong. I also noticed that at some point she had peed. She'd probably been laying right there when she had pee'd and puked, in fact, I know now that she had been. I got down on my hands and knees and touched her face gently. "Come on Maya. Please try to get up." I begged her, and she tried a little. He front legs slipping and sliding in the puke on the floor, and then she laid back down. That was all I got out of her. I called Shawn, who was on a business trip for the day in Chicago to let him know what was happening. I was confident it was bad, no matter what and wanted him to get home if we needed. I called the vet and as I was talking to them, she lifted her tail and pooped. She didn't even try to get up. The vet told me to bring her right in.

I jumped into action. I made the little girls go inside, made Sydney get me towels and a trash bag, handed Ben lysol wipes and told him to clean the pee and poop, that I would handle the puke. I cleaned the trunk of the car out and laid down the towels and then grabbed a roll of paper towels and some lysol wipes and cleaned the puke and wiped up Maya as best I could. While I was doing all of this, Shawn had called our friend Torren to come stay with the kids while I took Maya in, and ordered an uber to the airport to change his flight and get home. I covered Maya in a towel and lifted her to get her in the car. She didn't even try to get her feet under her. She weighed about 90-95 pounds, which is a lot for me to lift. I set her back down and talked to her gently telling her "I need you to try and help me get you into this car sweetie. It's a long way up into the trunk." When I lifted her the second time, she just went limp. I got her into the trunk of my SUV, I'm not even sure how.

Ben was now in tears. I'm sure he knew the same thing I did. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. He wanted to stay with her so I took him to the vet with us. We drove across town to the vet. When we got there I wasn't sure what to do, if I could even get her out of the trunk. I went inside and told them that I wasn't sure how to get her out, and they said not to worry. They had people on standby with a stretcher. She looked so sad and helpless as they put her on the stretcher. My heart felt like it was being ripped out. Ben and I just watched, holding each other and crying.

They weighed her and brought her in to the room with Ben and I. The vet, who we have used and loved for years came in pretty quickly and started examining Maya. She told us her pulse was low, her temperature was high, and that she had dehydrated mucus. She could get her legs underneath her, so she knew it wasn't a paralysis issue. They took Maya for a chest x-ray and blood work. The chest x-ray showed no fluid on the heart, and no mass or bleed in the chest or abdomen.  The blood work showed that she was dehydrated but that was all she could see.  She put Maya on IV fluids, nausea meds, and an antibiotic, and sent the blood work out. Ben and I left with no answers.

We went to Ben's soccer practice and Shawn called the vet around 5:30. They said the blood work showed her red blood cells were fine, but her white blood cells were elevated, her liver enzymes were elevated, and her kidney enzymes were elevated. They were going to change her antibiotic to one that would help her liver and we'd go from there. They told us they would call us back after Maya's walk and maybe let us come up and see her.

Soccer practice ended, and as we were loading up in the car, I received a call from the vet, saying we could come up and see her and discuss a treatment plan. We headed straight from practice to the vet. We were greeted at the door and told "You're all here. Good." That didn't sound like were about to get good news.  They had a room ready for us and the vet came in almost immediately. She sat down and started talking. There were so many words, especially big, medical words. What I managed to understand of it all was that Maya had several blood clots that basically went all over her body. She had one in her lung and one in heart and God only knows where else. She was having a hard time breathing and her heart wasn't beating correctly.

I learned a little about the heart yesterday that I didn't really know, so I'll share it here.  The way the heart beats is the top beats and pushes blood to the bottom, and the bottom beats and sends the blood where it goes to in the body.

Maya's heart was not beating on the top and trying to beat doubly as fast on the bottom, not getting blood to the organs or anywhere else it needs to go. This is called Ventricular Tachycardia or Vtach as you hear on medical shows. The vet had been trying to correct it by giving her lidocaine but couldn't get it to work. We were told that we could try taking her to a 24 hour emergency vet clinic and they could put her in an oxygen chamber and continue to give her lidocaine and there was about a 50% chance it would work and it would cost thousands of dollars at least. If it worked, we don't know what damage had occurred to the organs from not getting blood for so long, and from the blood clots that caused this whole thing. Later she told us that she didn't know that Maya would make it to another facility. She even told us that she could stay there with Maya, but at some point, she'd have to go home for a couple of hours and sleep and didn't know what would happen to Maya while she wasn't there.

In the end, there was really only one answer. It was Maya's time to go. They let us go back to Maya, pet her, and say goodbye. She was so tired from the lidocaine and everything else, she didn't even open her eyes but she wagged her tail at us. Ben actually went back twice to talk to her and pet her. They gave Ben her collar. He was so brave but also heartbroken.  He's cried a lot since then.

The vet printed out a story for the kids about the rainbow bridge, and they loaned us a book about losing a pet.  I took the kids home and Shawn stayed with Maya while they put her to sleep. It happened so fast that I was unbuckling Scotland from her carseat when he pulled into the driveway.

We're having her cremated so we can bury her ashes in the back yard.  They are also giving us a clay paw print, which we plan to put in a shadow box with her collar and a picture of her.

Yesterday was a very long and rough day. Ben was so helpful and brave through everything. We're definitely going to miss our sweet girl. The kids and I have talked about her a lot and how no other dog will ever be quite like Maya, but there will be many more loves in our lives before we go to meet Maya at the rainbow bridge.


Ksunshine52 said…
I'm so sorry about you losing Maya! She seems to have been a wonderful member of the family.

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