I met Kenya Dog about a week after Jazz and I started dating. I met Jazz at the same place- Herkimer County Humane Society, where Jazz was working as a caretaker, and I was a volunteer. She was a small black dog in a big concrete run, and she always looked so sad with her foxy face. She caught everything that went through the shelter in the two months that she was there. Parvo, distemper, kennel cough- she probably had them all. So I spent some time every day coaxing her, "Can ya take another bite? Can ya have another drink? Can ya be here when I get back in the morning?" And that's what her name became. Jazz and I agreed on her name without even talking about it. We just knew she was Kenya.
Then Jazz and I moved in together, into an apartment that would let us have pets (mine didn't). We moved in his three cats (of which we still have two), and took Kenya and Beauford home from the shelter. Beauford and Rags came to us as old pets, and we knew we would not have long with them. Beauford was a basset beagle mix, and we gave him one wonderful year before he could no longer get off his pillow at all. Rags surprised us by living another 8 years or so- she must have lived to 25 or 28, given her history. Kenya became known as Dog, as the solo dog in a house of cats. We had brought home a few other cats from the shelter, so she was the only dog among as many as six cats.
She was diagnosed pretty early on with hip displasia, one side really badly mangled. So she was on mild pain killers and glucosamine for many years. So we got used to her not liking to hunker for a poo- it never felt very good. But last fall, she started insisting on going out to pee every hour. Since Jazz sleeps through the night *very* well, she wasn't letting me sleep. This is what drove me to take her into the vet's and I wish I had done it sooner. The ultrasound came back as transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder and probably invading the urethra and possibly the ureters. Going to Cornell where we could do chemotherapy or radiation therapy was immediately discussed as well as surgical options. None were promising any relief. She was given 4-6 months to live at that point, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy would probably put her through a lot of pain but offer little chance of a cure and maybe give her another month. Surgical removal of the large tumor at that point would like mean regular dialysis and a permanent catheter directly from the kidneys. Not a viable option. We agreed to up her pain medication and augment it with piroxicam, an anti-inflammatory aimed at the bladder. She responded well to the piroxicam according to following urinalysis when she had been on it for a while. Shortly after Kissmoose, she found out we'd been hiding pills in cream cheese for years, and the arguments about taking pills began.
Two weeks ago, she upped her peeing frequency again. We did another urinalysis, which came back positive for urinary tract infection. More pills. She Did Not Like the antibiotic. I know almost every trick there is for getting a dog to take pills now. She improved a little, but that's also when we realized how bad her heart murmur was, and we started noticing episodes of shortness of breath. She started to have less playing energy, although the urges certainly were still there. We upped her pain medications.
Last night, she kept insisting on going out, even though it was pouring rain. I got maybe 4 hours of sleep. I went out this morning to the post office, and came back and noticed blood on the floor, and it had to be from Kenya's derrière. This was either an anal sac explosion (meaning more pills and more discomfort for her butt while she poops) or the cancer was attacking her lower GI system, and that also would mean more pain, more pills. I told Jazz, if it's serious, we probably ought to consider it her time. The vet's office wanted to call me back. During that time, we sat in the sun with her. We agreed it was probably time. When the doc called us back, she was set to talk us into it. So we all agreed. It was tender, but dammit it had to be done. Any prolonging would not have been a kindness to anyone but the doc's coffers, and she'd have felt horribly guilty about it.
So today about noon, on her blanket out on the front lawn of the vet's office, Kenya Dog passed on, in the arms of those who loved her. I cannot regret her passing, but I'm going to miss her terribly.