Lucy: 22/2/15 – 13/4/23

Lucy – our sweet Japanese Spitz – is no longer with us.

On the Saturday during the Easter break, Lucy suddenly stopped eating her morning kibble breakfast. I had noticed a few days prior that she had slowed down eating but hadn’t been concerned as she was getting older and figured she’d finally figured out not to scoff her food down. Her lack of interest in breakfast was super concerning though, she wasn’t a picky eater and this was out of character. That said, all of her other behavior seemed normal and she appeared in good spirits. I managed to get her to eat her kibble bit by bit out of my hand. We thought that since she had teeth issues and was due for a scaling that maybe her teeth hurt and we picked up some soft food for her to get through the Easter weekend. She seemed fine with eating some for dinner that night.

The next morning I offered the soft food as before but now she wasn’t interested in that either. She didn’t seem too interested in eating out of my hand either, and only took some treats I offered afterwards. I also noticed that her gums appeared paler than before. Since no vets were open this Easter Sunday, we took her to the emergency vet to be checked. After being examined we were told there appeared to be nothing physically wrong with her, but the vet suggested getting bloodwork done at our local vet just to be sure.

Because of the public holidays, this would have to wait till at least Tuesday if we were lucky to get into a vet. Over those days Lucy continued to not eat her kibble, the only food she was taking was her high value chicken wing for dinner. On Tuesday I called up early and luckily there was a slot for her first thing on Wednesday morning.

Our regular vet checked her over again and mentioned that Lucy now had a bit of a fever. Apparently her heart and breathing was also a little fast and she confirmed her gums appeared pale. They thought running bloods was a good idea but we’d have to wait another day to get the results. They also did an X-ray but couldn’t find anything so an abdominal blockage was ruled out.

We got the blood results Thursday morning. The news wasn’t good – she was anemic and appeared to be losing blood somewhere internally. They asked us to call the pet emergency and arrange for an ultrasound to see if they could find the cause, preferably that day. I called straight away and luckily there was one slot available that we took. My partner took her down and we picked her up over an hour later, now with a shaved stomach and appearing more lethargic than before. We were told our vet would call us if there was anything urgent.

Some time later we got that call. Lucy had hemangiosarcoma in her spleen and liver – an aggressive malignant type of cancer of which was inoperable and the cause of her internal bleeding. Her time was limited as her tumours were advanced and there was risk of them rupturing and causing a greater bleed and putting her in pain. Lucy’s state seemed to be going downhill quickly as well. We decided to make the tough call to have her put down that afternoon.

The hours between that call and taking her in dragged on forever. We both just sat and wept while patting her. This diagnosis had been a shock and we weren’t ready to say goodbye so soon, Lucy had only just turned 8 in February and until a couple of days ago had still mostly been her usual self. My partner’s parents came over to say their goodbyes – they were her favourite people after many years of taking care of Lucy while we were on holidays and had spoiled her greatly with treats and pats whenever they came to visit her. Lucy herself seemed to almost know what was going on, she didn’t get up unless she needed to, instead preferring to lay down and sleep. At one point she went outside and just laid on the patio, quietly listening to the sounds going by.

When the time came in the arvo, we drove over and were ushered into the back rooms. The nurse offered her some bits of cheese which surprisingly she ate, for just a moment she seemed like her old self. My partner didn’t stay for the injection. It was just me and her. I didn’t want her last moments to be by herself with a stranger. She went quickly and peacefully as I bawled and patted her, telling her she was a good girl right to the end.

The vet told us there was nothing we could’ve done to prevent this outcome, hemangiosarcoma often goes undetected until it is too late. Even if it had been caught early and was operable, it would have only extended her life at most a few months. Lucy was just extremely unlucky, but it still feels so unfair.

The thing about pets is that they’re so integrated into your daily routine and environment that when they’re gone their absence feels so amplified. Even though Lucy wasn’t an especially loud dog (except when barking), the house is so much more quiet and empty. I don’t hear the jingle of her collar anymore as she gets up to change resting positions. Feeding and walking Evie (our other dog) by herself feels off without her there. Reminders of her presence are everywhere – her white fluff can be found on the floor, her bowl with the last kibble I offered her still sits on the outdoor table. Her old toys and beds. Our family unit feels so much smaller without her here.

The pain of this loss hurts especially as Lucy was my first dog as well. She wasn’t perfect – she was very reactive on walks to other dogs/bikes/trailers/runners and she almost never listened when I called her to come inside while she was barking, which she did every day. That said, in so many other ways she exactly what I wanted in a dog – she was sensitive and gentle, she learnt a lot of basic tricks, she was fine with you handling her for brushes or getting a nail trim at the vet. She loved pats and cuddles, in winter she would spoon with me on the couch for ages and when I gave her head scratches she would make these happy little grunts. She was my companion when I lived on my own for a couple of years and probably kept me sane by making me keep to a routine and letting me spoil her for attention. While she was never truly buddy buddy with Evie, it was nice to see her learn how to play with another dog for the first time at 7 years old. She loved going into the office and seeing people for pats. She loved visiting to the vet and the vets loved her.

She really was a little sweetheart and my heart breaks knowing I will never see her again. I will never take another image or video of her, I will never again hear those little happy grunts. I’m sad that our daughter will also never really know her, Lucy was the first to really get interested in a new human in the house. Luckily I have a couple of photos of them together.

I want to leave this with a few of my favourite captured memories of Lucy. The video was created a only couple of years ago, when Lucy was our only dog and she was at her peak Lucy-ness. It brings me to tears to watch right now, but I’m so glad I made the effort to make this back then.

A year with Lucy, the Japanese Spitz - first day home
A year with Lucy, the Japanese Spitz - first day home
A year with Lucy, the Japanese Spitz - Sleepy puppy
A year with Lucy, the Japanese Spitz - Close up

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