We noticed over the last few weeks that her back legs would get weak every so often. She was still mobile and got around just fine, just slower. Last night, out of the blue, she just collapsed and lost all control of her back legs. She sat there and didn't move. She tried to lift her upper body up and move and her back legs would not cooperate. We used a large towel as a sling and helped get her onto her elevated dog cot. From there, she didn't move for a while. Later, we found her a few feet away near the front gate. I don't know how she managed to get there. We moved her back on the dog cot for comfort. Looking at her immobile, not knowing if she was suffering from pain, we decided to take her to the vet. Rotts have a high tolerance for pain so they don't wince or whine unless it's really bad.
We get her to the vet in the morning and I watched the vet do tests on her. Her upper body and mind was completely fine. She was alert and aware of her surroundings. She'd look for us so we kept close and let her know we were there with her every second in the office. As the doctor grabbed her back toes and pinch them, I look at Xena's face. Nothing. She moved her legs around, nothing. Xena was numb. She couldn't feel anything in her legs or hind. The vet said we could run xrays and check her spine. It appears she has nerve issues which explains her paralysis and numbness in her legs. We could then go from there.
I interrupted her and said, even if we ran all these tests and find it truly is a spinal/nerve issue, at 10 years old, what more can we do for her that will improve her quality of life? That's when the Dr said, that is also another thing to discuss. She's an older dog, with the state that her body is in now, it may be best to put her down considering her age and her condition. I cried. We knew it was time. To let her suffer through more of her issues and immobility at 10 years old would be selfish and unjust to her.
The night before, our family discussed this possibility. As much as we don't want her to go, we had to do good by Xena. She has given us 9 years of joy, happiness, loyalty, protection, security, and unconditional love. For us to let her continue on like this was unfair to her. What made it extremely difficult was knowing that her mind was still fighting. She was there. She was awake and aware of everything around her. It killed me to say, "We will let her rest."
This time, Shelby was with us. She's 15 now. The previous times we had to put our dogs down, we kept this pain from our children. With her now of age and being the main caretaker of Xena, I gave her the choice to be there. I explained to her that the last sense to go is hearing. Although she may be slipping away, she can hear us until her very last breath. So being there with her, talking to her, petting her, showing her all the love we have for her in her last moments is the best thing to do. To let her know we were not doing this out of anything but love. Shelby agreed to be there.
They took Xena to the back for prepping. We all sat in the room quietly weeping knowing this was it. The moment we have been dreading for the last 9 years. I thought about the day I took Xena and Zeus home. I saw an ad in the paper for two Rottweilers asking over $1000 for both. It was a military family who couldn't care for them anymore. They had a lot of kids in the household and the older son who originally acquired them (who also had their papers) moved out of the country and left the dogs behind. I went at lunch to meet them.
As soon as I arrived at their house, Zeus' monstrous head was at the door ready to greet me. Xena, right behind. As large and buff as they were, I was in love with them. They were well trained and were awesome with all the kids in the house. They ran around the house in circles and were so excited to play. I spent some time with them and saw their temperament and just knew I had to have them. I asked her how much she wanted for them. She said, "I'll take whatever you want for them. I need them out of here. I can't handle it anymore." I offered her $300 since that was what I had with me and she took it. I ensured the entire family that they would be loved and treated well in my home.
When I got back after work to pick them both up, the kids were crying and devastated that I was taking them away. I got their email and said, I promise to keep you posted on how they're doing. After I took them home, I sent them an email and never heard from the family ever again. I don't even remember their last name to find them.
Their original names was Dixie and Angus. We changed it to Zeus and Xena. When I got them home, they met Roxie. The three of them got along so well. Zeus and Xena were 1 at the time. Young, vibrant, and barely in their prime. Roxie, was about 9 years old at the time. She had her white muzzle, slow gait, and rarely got excited anymore. These two would run circles around her. But being young and full of life, they brought the youth out of her. Roxie was once again moving around and playing with them. I was thinking of all the happy and fun times Xena had with our family. Her playfulness, her litter, her speed, her agility. She was my mad dasher.
They wheeled her back into the room flat on the stretcher with her catheter in her right paw. She was strapped down on the stretcher covered in a blanket. They brought a fluffy pink princess blanket to cover her with which was a nice gesture. We all cried as we pet her and I talked to her. I told her how sorry I was to do this to her and to please just rest. She lived a great life. She was an awesome dog, family member, and mommy. I told her no more suffering. No more pain. No more feeling uncomfortable. We spent some time with her before calling the dr back into the room. At one point, I knew she knew what was coming. She started reaching her front paws out towards my husband. It seemed like she was saying, please take me home. We knew doing so, and turning back would only mean more suffering for her. Xena, she was my fighter dog. She was stubborn and tough. She never gave in. We continued to tell her how much we loved her and that we didn't want to watch her suffer anymore.
When the Dr came back in she explained every step she was taking which was comforting. She flushed her catheter first. She then sedated her which helped relax her. It took a minute or two. Eventually, she rested her head down on Shelby's hand and laid down comfortably. The reality of everything hit me like a ton of bricks. She flushed her catheter one more time and told us when she was ready to do it. I wanted so badly to say, "No, stop!" but I knew this was the best thing for Xena. She let us know when she was about to administer the dose and slowly Xena fell into her sleep.
Xena fought every second. She fought for her breath and I couldn't bear to witness this. I just held onto her and continued to pray that God take away her pain and welcome her with open arms. When she took her final and last breath, I cried out loud and just tried so hard to just think of the happy times with her and not this painful one of having to let her go. The doctor checked her heart and let us know she was gone. A part of me was relieved. She was no longer suffering. No more blindness. No more dry eyes. No more bad legs. No more infections. She was resting in piece. She was at the rainbow bridge playing with Harley and Roxie and my grandparents who I'm sure picked them up in their loving arms.
I covered her in the princess blanket, kissed her one last time, and said good night Xena and good bye. We love you.
When we got home, Zeus was whining at the gate and jumping around in anxiety. How do dogs know? That will always be something that amazes me about them. We walked in the house without Xena. Zeus looked at us and sat back down quietly. He knew. He's been very quiet all day. He hasn't stepped onto his cot that lay beside Xena's. He's been laying on the concrete near the door. When we go in and out he whines. He's heartbroken and sad, I know it. He and Xena have been together for 10 years. His mate is now gone.
I asked Romel, "Did we do the right thing?" He said yes. We did. If we didn't put her down, her life would be horrible. She cannot walk. She cannot see. Her body was fighting itself. He asked me why I was questioning our decision. I said because watching her slip away, she fought to breathe. Her mind was intact. She was still alert and knew who we were. She was fighting. Romel reassured me, had we done testing, had we taken her back home, she is completely immobile. What kind of life would that be for her? I cried as I cut my vegetables and prepared lunch. I prayed quietly asking God to please ease my mind.
Writing and putting together a video memorial for her has helped me relive the good times with her in her younger years. I again asked myself, why have pets already? Every time one goes, our hearts break and we're sad. I have to keep reminding myself that it's not the destination, it's the journey. Our lives are filled with so much love from our pets.
Good night Xena girl. You will be missed and you are loved. Rest in peace my smiley girl.