Yesterday J and I took Mia to her appointment with the cytologist.  She was diagnosed with hepatic cirrhosis.  Or basically end-stage liver disease.

The prednisone has brought the fluid in her stomach back very quickly, so we are weaning her off of it. We have her on a diuretic in hopes that it will get rid of some of the fluid to make her more comfortable. But that’s all we can do.  Keep her comfortable.

Now it’s all about keeping her as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible. It may be months, or it could be just weeks.  Now the focus is on quality of life.

This is not a disease that allows her to go peacefully in her sleep. We may see jaundice, vomiting, lethargy, depression, anorexia and potentially seizures. We’re going to have to make the decision to end her life.

How does one do that? How do I look at this amazing, loving animal and say it’s time?

We’ve had Mia since she was 4 months old – she turns 6 in June – and she’s been a wonderful addition to our lives. J surprised me with her one night after I had been nagging at him that I wanted a dog. We’d had our house only for a couple of months, but it felt empty without animals. I’d always had them growing up, and couldn’t imagine living in a house without one.

She was big, even at only 4 months. I remember this big ball of energy running into the house. Running around in that awkward puppy gait sniffing and exploring everything. She loved to play right from the start.  Playing fetch is still her favorite thing to do.

Somehow in the coming years I convinced him to let me get another dog and two cats. All three of them love Mia. Calypso and Mia cuddle and play. Lyps is very protective of Mia – she doesn’t let anyone mess with her big sister. Brutus rubs against her head, bites at her nose and licks her ears. Mia is so easy going, she just lays down and lets him play. I’ve never seen her growl or show any signs of temper. She loves everyone and is so friendly.

I never imagined that we would have to do this so soon. I thought for sure we’d have another 4-5 or more years with her.

In the past two days, nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. Two days ago we had hope. Now we know time is running out, and I’m trying to make every day the best for her.

It killed me to leave her this morning to come to work. I wish I could put my life on hold to spend every second with her. Cuddling when she’s tired, playing outside when she has her energy. I’m so glad she has company there with Lyps, Brutus and Rella.

So how do I know? How do I walk that line where I’m not causing her more days of suffering, yet I’m not cutting off her life too early, when it’s already too short? How do I know that the next day she could turn around and be really good for a couple more weeks? How do I say it’s time?

Now, more than ever, I wish she could tell me, give me some sign or indication of when she is ready.

There are all these what if’s. What if we had done a blood test before putting her on the penobarbital for seizures? What if I’d stopped it when I saw how she reacted to it, even though they were common side effects? What if we’d fed her different food, or never given her ‘people food’? I know this disease was more than likely genetic, and we couldn’t stop it.  But could we have prolonged her life? Could we have pushed this back by years?

I know we’ll never know. And these questions don’t help. But I can’t help but wonder.

Our house will be so empty without her. But I’m going to try to focus on her being here now, and doing whatever I can to make her final weeks some of the best.