Our Faith and His Spunk Were Not Enough

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At 2:30 this afternoon, I was able to hold and comfort Buster as he took his last breath.  These past two days have been incredibly difficult for our family and today was one of the worst days of my life. 

We went to the Lee County Animal Shelter this morning to play with the kittens and cats.  Our hope was that we would be able to introduce a playmate for Buster once he was fully recovered.  We honestly thought he would fully recover.  We had a great time playing and showing affection to the wonderful kittens and cats at the shelter.

While there, I received a call from Dr. Moyer at NC State.  Unfortunately, the pathologist confirmed that although Buster did have an infection, he also had cancer.  This should not have come as a shock to me, but I was truly blindsided.  I am an optimist so I had not truly prepared myself for the reality that Buster could die. 

The vet said they were going to continue him on medications to try and get the inflammation down so that he could breathe on his own in the next 24-48 hours.  She said if he could breathe on his own, we could bring him home and he could have days to months to live. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have thanked God for Dr. Schaller.  As soon as I hung up and relayed the news to Ed, I was on the phone with Dr. Schaller.  I told her what I had learned and that I was leaning towards not making him struggle and possibly suffer just so that we could have more time with him.  I needed her reassurance that we were making the right decision to let Buster go.  My only regret was that he was not well enough to bring him back home to Willow Creek to have Dr. Schaller, someone whom Buster loves and trusts, put him to sleep.

When we finally got to see Buster in his oxygen cage, there could have been no doubt that it was time to say goodbye.  He did not look well and even with oxygen, you could tell that it was an effort for him to breathe.  There was a little door that we could reach through to pet him.  He never got up from where he was sitting, but he would lean his head back and forth to rub up against our hand and allow us to pet him.

Once we told the vet our decision, we were shown to a very nice private room with a couch and chair and children’s books about losing a pet.  They brought Buster in along with a portable oxygen tank so that we could have some time alone with him.  I held him and we took turns holding the oxygen to his nose.   We could tell he was struggling to breathe and we just couldn’t continue to put him through that so we cut our time short and Ed went to get the vet.

When she came in with the syringes, my stomach dropped and I held Buster a little closer.  I was not ready.  Can you ever be ready to watch your beloved pet die?   She first gave him a sedative and that actually made him a little crazy.  He fought in my arms like he had never done before.  Ed took him from me and she gave him the rest of the medicine.  She had to ask the vet student with her to go get a second syringe of the sedative since he was not getting sleepy.

I know it was coincidence, but it did my heart good that as soon as I took him back, he melted into my arms and settled down.  A few moments later, she was ready with the “other” syringe.  She asked if we were ready.  It was all I could do to keep myself from saying, “NO!!”  I held him and stroked him until finally his labored breathing stopped and he was still.  As horrible as it was, it was comforting that he was no longer struggling to breathe.

I was crying so hard there was no way I could have said it, but somehow Ed knew to stand up and take Buster from me.  I could not have handled handing him over directly to the vet.  That would have just been too much.

Leah seems the most confused.  I don’t think she fully understands that Buster will not be coming home ever again.  She keeps saying she wants to go get him, that she wants Buster, and that she doesn’t want Buster to die.   Hailey is sad but she is comforting herself with the fact that we will be getting two new cats next week.

Yes, we are getting two new cats.  I’m sure not everyone will agree with this decision but it is what is best for our family right now.  We are not replacing Buster, we are honoring his memory by saving the lives of two kittens who might otherwise be put to sleep as well.

I pray that these new cats will be as much of a blessing to our lives as Buster was.  He was a wonderful and very sweet cat and he will be missed very, very much. 

Many thanks to our friends and family for your love and support.  I can’t thank Dr. Schaller enough for all the time spent on the phone with me over the past two days (and back in June when Buster had his first bout with cancer).  Her guidance, support, encouragement, wisdom, and love for our Buster was so appreciated.  She will always hold a special place in our family’s heart.  I also want to thank Dr. Moyer and the rest of the staff at NC State Veterinary Hospital for the care they gave Buster the past two days.  Dr. Moyer was very compassionate today and did a great job of being there to do her thing without taking anything away from our family and our time with Buster.

We may have only had a year, but it was a great year!

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About emilypage

I have been married to my husband, Ed since 1998. We have two daughters, Hailey (9) and Leah (6). I have been the Director of Easter Seals UCP Stepping Stones Children's Center in Sanford since 2004. I am an Independent Senior Director for Thirty-One and I absolutely LOVE it! I was raised as a Wolfpacker but saw the light and now I bleed Carolina blue (sorry, dad).
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4 Responses to Our Faith and His Spunk Were Not Enough

  1. kiminsanford says:

    Oh, no — I am so sorry to hear the news of Buster’s passing! When I saw the subject of your post, I was afraid to read further. As difficult as it will be, hopefully you will be able to find comfort in knowing that you made the right decision for Buster and that he is at peace. The love of Copper and Daisy and the new kittens will help you heal – and, no, I do not think there is anything wrong with that! You will never “replace” Buster, but other pets in the wake of losing a beloved pet are no different than other family members in the wake of losing a loved one – they help you cope and heal! The girls were incredibly theraputic for me when I had to let my beautiful Puddles go in April 2007.

    My heart is with you – if I can help, please call!!!

  2. Melissa W says:

    I am so sorry, Emily. My family had a dog that we’d adopted before I was born, so he was my parents’ first baby. When we had to let him go, we ended up bringing 2 new puppies home and it was the right thing for us. We definitely weren’t “replacing” him…no dog could replace Benji! I think saving two more cats in Buster’s memory is a beautiful idea.

  3. your far away sister says:

    hugs to you all. and a big lick in the face from Harley and Cruiser.

  4. Tammy Hebert says:

    I am so sorry for you all. I understand what you went through. I had to hold our dog of 14 years in my lap as we had to let him go because it was just too hard for him to live any more. It is a very hard thing to do – letting go. Buster will be with you always though. I tell my two youngest that Toby is an angel and he watches us always. They too want another dog but I am not ready yet. I wish you all the best with your two new kittens – nothing like saving others in Buster’s name.

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