The best dang dog I ever had

In the South, that’s what you say when your dog dies, even if he or she kills chickens, chases cars and digs up the flower bed. Kallie was sweet, though, and never did those things and she was truly “the best dang dog we ever owned”.

We lost our sweet Kallie on Nov. 11. She had had a heart murmur for about nine years but it was manageable with drugs and watching her weight. She’d been in congestive heart failure since January and nearly died then. She started having massive fluid build- up, which is a sign of right heart disease (prior to that she’d had only left heart disease). Shen spent the day at the vet, including two hours in the oxygen cage. No one thought she was going home that day but she’s a fighter and hung on. The next week we already had an appointment with the internist for a cardiac ultrasound and we got the full picture then.

So the last 10 months have been filled with taking care of her, numerous trips to the regular vet, another follow-up with the internist, juggling six drugs at two pharmacies and the vet and lots of carpet cleaning.  It was pretty funny telling people Kallie was on Viagra, but it was originally created for right heart disease and is incredibly effective for that.

Kallie trucked along pretty well until the last week or so and she just seemed to be getting worse. Over the weekend we had decided if she hadn’t died naturally by the end of the month, she would have to be put down. Well, yesterday she got much, much worse. She ate about half her breakfast, if that, and her pumpkin ball filled with pills. I offered the rest of her breakfast later on and she didn’t want it. She picked out a few pieces that had pumpkin on them. She did have her pumpkin with her afternoon pill at 12:45 and seemed OK. At dinner I offered her more food and she didn’t want it. I took her out to potty after dinner and then not long after that she raced to the door. Heath took her out and 15 minutes later, came back in and said she hadn’t done anything. I went to give her the pumpkin with her evening pills and she rejected it completely. She started doing her routine when she doesn’t feel well– she’ll lay in one place then get up after a minute or two and lay down somewhere else. She’s looking for a place to lay down where she won’t hurt. She was very wobbly, stumbling around like she was drunk and stood up for awhile. We think it was hard for her to breathe lying down. Sometime in the middle of that we said if she lived through the night, we would take her this morning to be put to sleep. Finally she laid down in the middle of the living floor and Heath said “it’s starting”. We sat with her and it was clear she was dying. Katy was in the bathtub so I told her to go put her pajamas on and come say goodbye to Kallie. By the time she got out Kallie had died but  her brain was still sending out signals so she was twitching her legs a bit. We all cried. I took Kallie’s collar off of her and asked Katy if she wanted to keep it and she said yes. I had Buddy on my lap the whole time and let him sniff Kallie. I don’t know if he got the message or not. Earlier he had been sniffing her face a lot. Those of you who know Buddy know he spends a lot of time with his nose stuck in Kallie’s hind end but sniffing her face was different. I think he realized something was happening.

We wrapped Kallie up in her blanket and I sent Katy off to bed. Then Heath put her body in two garbage bags and a cardboard box and put her in our makeshift morgue. He cleared off the bottom shelf of the deep freeze in the garage about two months ago just for this.

I went to check on Katy in bed. She was reading and had her Kindle in one hand and Kallie’s collar in the other.

It was a long night and Heath and I barely slept. This morning we all got up and Katy went to school on the bus, she seemed to be doing fine. Heath put Kallie in a box in the car and on the way to the vet I called to let them know we were coming. When we got there Heath stayed in the car and I went in. The front office lady I talked to had already told one of our vets (our main vet is off on Tuesday, but she told the other one we see) and the front office lady came out to the car to the get the box. I told her I didn’t want the blanket back. She asked if it was Kallie’s blanket and I said yes so she asked if I wanted it cremated with her. I said yes. We’ll get the remains in a few days and we’re going to bury her under the bird feeders.

Kallie had been having more and more accidents over the past few days and lost her appetite. The medicine for heart disease is hard on the kidneys (and the medicine for kidney disease is hard on the heart so we didn’t even bother with that). Kallie’s kidney values were always high, even on the lowest dose of the Lasix. So given that I think Kallie died from kidney failure, not heart disease. But the heart disease was the cause of the kidney issues. And possibly malnutrition. She weighed 12 pounds, which is what she’s pretty much always weighed, but at least two pounds of that was fluid. Her spine and ribs were sticking out. I hated to fatten her up because she could barely walk as it was. With all that fluid in her belly it was kind of like being pregnant and off-balance. I was afraid if she gained anymore she wouldn’t be able to stand up.

We miss her and the house is quiet. And the kitchen looks different without the x-pen and all the black mats we put down so she could walk. She’s not suffering anymore and that’s the most important thing.

I got this picture about 30-40 minutes before she died.

13 years, six months and 13 days
13 years, six months and 13 days

The day we brought her home, all scraggly from a bath

Nine weeks old. Scared, but really liked the toys
Nine weeks old. Scared, but really liked the toys

The vet sent us a card with Kallie’s paw print and a package of forget-me-not seeds.

Kallie's paw



7 thoughts on “The best dang dog I ever had

  1. We’ll, I’m sitting here in tears, having trouble even seeing the screen. The bird feeders sound like a perfect resting place for her. I’m so glad for all of you, but especially her, that she could have her final time at home with the people she loved.

  2. What a dear, lovely and loyal friend Kallie was to all of you through so many years. Friendships like this are so precious and rare. You are Blessed to have been able to share so many happy years together. She so adored you and you showed her every kindness and love throughout her life right to the end. I feel that her spirit will always be near you. Perhaps someday somewhere in the future another happy little spirirt will come into your life. And when you look into their eyes you will see the love of Kallie returned to you. May many Blessings surround you always.

  3. Leigh Ann, I am so sorry for you, Heath and Katy. My heart truly is broken to read about Kallie. I remember meeting her when I came to the Atlanta show in 2007. She was such a sweet, and tiny!, girl. Thank you for writing this. As you know, Spencer also has MVD and was in CHF last year, though didn’t have it as badly as you described with Kallie.

    I’ve asked our vet a few times what I need to look for to know that Spencer is at the end and she’s not really been able to tell me. Now I know what I’ll need to look for- thank you for describing it, though I know how hard it must have been for you to write it. Lots of hugs to you, Keith and Katy. Buddy, too.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I have been following Kallie’s story with much interest. My cocker spaniel, Blondie, has similar heart issues. Thanks for sharing your story. Hugs!

  5. Thank you for sharing your heartrending story with us. I was and still am struck with your balanced, sensible but merciful approach to everything. May your hearts heal eventually. xxx

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