Tuesday, February 18, 2014


He was our first baby. Fur baby. Although technically he's not a baby when we got him, he was almost 7 years old then. He was given to us September 2012 by my college classmate and friend, Melanie. They have had Toby since he was a puppy but cannot keep him anymore since they had to downsize from their home to an apartment. Most of the apartments around their area doesn't allow pets particularly bigger dogs.

I can still remember that day so vividly when we welcomed Toby in our home. He's excited because of the new surroundings and he did not really know that he's now got a new place to live. When Melanie and her family left, Toby was so sad. He kept on barking at them. When we got to the house, he stayed by the door. He kept on looking outside hoping that they will come back for him. That first night, he stayed at our bedroom looking so lost. I felt so bad for him.

At Barnes and Noble Promenade. A day after we got him.
The first few days was hard for him. He would always just be at the door looking outside. I think after a couple of weeks, he started opening himself to us. Dogs like people have different personalities. I haven't had a dog like Toby before. He's very quiet and mellow. Like an old soul. He's not particularly playful. He pretty much just sleeps most of the day. However like most dogs, he likes to eat and go outside for fresh air. He's also especially fond of Topher. They have a special bond that Toby and I never had. Toby would always wait for him to get home. He's always so excited when Topher's home from work. Everyday they would go for his afternoon walks especially when the weather's nice.

We had a pretty good year with Toby. He brought laughter, joy and fun in our everyday life. He's a pretty damn good dog. Whenever we both had to go to work, he just patiently waits for us to get home. He'll be barking and wagging his cute tail with his toy cheetah in his mouth. :) He'll make a couple of circles around the house before dropping his toy and barking again. He wants to go outside at that point.

Then around late October last year, we noticed that he's not eating his dry dog food as much as he use to. So what we did was mix wet dog food with the dry, he would eat for a couple of days, then he won't eat again. Then we switch to table food with his dog food. It's the same thing, he'll eat for a day or two and then he'll lose interest again. We got concern because he's losing weight significantly. We scheduled for a vet visit and they had his blood tested. A day after, we learned that he has high amount of calcium in his blood. :( The vet explained that it could be a couple of things but the usual suspects are hyperparathyroidism or cancer. They have to do another blood run to rule out which one is it. If it is hyperparathyroidism, then we can operate on the tumor. If it is cancer, then it will be a harder battle to fight. The second blood run took longer to get results because it will be sent out of state for testing.

While waiting for the result, Toby had a very bad day. It was last December 11, a day after Topher and VJ's birthday (both are Toby's human dads). Toby was very weak and his breathing was very labored, I thought he's not gonna make it that day. I called Melanie to let her know about Toby's condition. They visited Toby that day. I felt it made a difference to Toby to see his original human parents, he survived that day. We received the results of the tests a few days after, it is what I feared it would be. The C word.

Topher and I talked about the results even before we received it. We've researched and read about the options that we have. We thought if it is operable like hyperparathyroidism, we can try to see if we can afford it. If it is cancer, and chemo is the likely option, we may have to opt out of it. As much as I want to cure Toby of this disease, chemotherapy in his age may not yield favorable results. He's almost 8 years old then and may not be strong enough to withstand the sessions. Shar pei's lifespan are 9-11 years on average. Honestly, it's also a lot of money. We do not have pet insurance for him. And we have a baby on the way to think of too.

After receiving the results of the second blood test, we told the vet that we would do the palliative care route. This is basically giving him steroids (prednisone) to get him his appetite back. After a couple of days with the prednisone, he's back to his old self. He started eating heartily again. He gain a couple of pounds. :) We celebrated the holidays happily with Toby. I've been talking to him, bargaining actually to make it through a couple of dates for us. The holidays (Christmas and New Year), his birthday (January 8), my birthday (January 26) and the birth of our son.

About 2 weeks ago, he started to not eat again even though he's still on medication. He lost the weight that he gained and more. He was also having significant muscle weakness, he flops from a sitting position to lying down. :( He still remains alert and would bark when the doorbell rung. Last Monday, (February 10) Topher mentioned that his muscle weakness was so bad that he cannot walk back to the house after relieving himself. :( He had to carry Toby back to the house. His breathing was very labored too. It will take him a couple of minutes before he can catch his breath back. I saw it for myself when I got home. He went to the backyard to pee before bedtime and it took him forever to come back. Then we saw him just sitting in the snow. :( He's too tired to climb up the deck. Topher had to carry him back to the house. I can't help but cry for him. Poor Toby.

It was last Saturday when we finally had to say goodbye to him. It was just the two of us that day, Topher went to CDH for work. Saturday is cleaning day and I just finished vacuuming our room and hauling the hamper to do the laundry when I fell on my butt while going down the stairs. I called the hospital and they said that I need to come in for observation (this warrants a different entry). Anyway, me and baby are okay, Thank God! When I got home, Toby and I went out the front door for him to pee. He was able to make it to his pee spot, but again had trouble going back. I carried him back to the house. Topher came home half an hour later and we had dinner with Gisselle and Jacq. They came by to get a couple of Gisselle's stuff.

While watching tv (NBA All-Star weekend), we noticed that Toby's breathing is not slowing down at all. Before, whenever he breathes heavily, it will take him a couple of minutes to be okay. Not this time. He can't find a position to be comfortable in. He tried laying on his stomach, sitting, standing, laying on his side. Nothing. :( This lasted for a couple of hours. Then Topher asked me if I want to take him to the emergency vet that night. He's telling me that maybe it's time for Toby to finally rest. He's in too much pain just to breathe. So I called the emergency vet to check and ask for details. The lady on the phone said to just come in whenever we are ready.

How can I be ready? How do you say goodbye to someone who has been with you for 72 weeks? Who gave us joy, laughter and sometimes tears? My heart broke that night. It's still broken.

On the way to the emergency vet, Toby was quiet. His breathing isn't labored and I secretly hoped that we don't have to go through the procedure. When we reached the pet hospital, we were given a room so that a vet tech can check him. We were told that he had to be given oxygen first that way he'll be comfortable before giving him the medicine because of his labored breathing. A couple of minutes later, the vet came to let us know that he suffered respiratory arrest even before they were able to give him oxygen. :( He's not breathing anymore and his heartbeat slow. When we saw him for the last time, it was unnerving to see him not struggling to breathe. He was finally at peace.

Our dearest Toby, thank you for staying with us for as long as you did. We miss you so much. We miss seeing you on your usual spots: by the foot of the stairs, by the doors, in your bed. We miss hearing your heavy paw steps and your barks when we come home. We know you're in better place, a place where there is no more pain and suffering but we're still having a hard time with you gone. We will always remember you Towb. We love you. 

eating snow was one of his favorite things to do

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