Stan and I had one of the worst weekends this past weekend. Katie is no longer with us. We had to make the decision to euthanize her Saturday afternoon.
She had a degenerative nerve disorder. It started in the tips of her back legs. At first, it was easily managed as it only caused instability or missteps sometimes; we compensated and changed things to make her successful with the new limitations; each time things got worse we compensated more. Unfortunately, it progressed again this week and took almost all of the use of her back legs. It was a quick, major jump this time, startling really. She would not have ever gotten better or regained any use of her legs. In fact the next step in progression would have been complete incontinence and then eventually the nerve disorder would have shut down vital functions. Her world was about to grow very small and we made the decision, with guidance from her physician, to help her end her life while she was happy and reasonably able. She had a vast sea of good pictures collected in her mind from her almost thirteen years.
I don’t want you to focus on her death. I want you to focus on what a magnificent being she was in life. And she was just that, magnificent.
When Stan and I first adopted her from a track in FL, where she would have been killed before she reached two years old, she was fierce and smart and vocal and headstrong. She continued to be those things all her life and we loved her for it.
Despite her size( Greys are big!) she was funny and goofy and playful. Watching her jump and play in new fallen snow was pure joy. When she was little, age wise, she would curl up into small spaces with her giant body; still to this day we do not understand how Greys can compact themselves so. Maybe she did yoga when we weren’t looking?
Being a former racer, it is no surprise she was crazy about running, even if it was a short run. At the end of this post I will post a YouTube video of Nick and Katie running together when they were much younger. She adored long walks and was curious about everything. She wanted to soak up every ounce of our world!
She was kind and gentle to a fault. When she was young we discovered her sense of wonder. During the growing season if she ever saw a Bumble Bee she would follow it throughout the garden, watching it from flower to flower. Most of the time she understood not to disturb them and if she got a little too close to watch one, all you had to do was say “gentle” and she would know to give it a little more space. The greatest thing from those experiences were when the bee would fly off and she would turn to you with a face that said, “isn’t it beautiful; isn’t it wonderful daddy!” She did that her whole life.
She delighted in making squeaky toys scream. I do mean delighted. Sometimes she would sit there with one and do nothing with the toy, but make it scream, over and over. It probably tickled the predator/ prey portions of her mind. It was exciting! Be extremely glad she was not a malevolent Empress who presided over us.
She was a big cuddle bug and yes, like most Greys, a coach potato most of the time.
Stan and I will miss all these things and a thousand more. It will be hard, but we have each other, and Nick.
Nick attended her, sometimes a little too much, as if she were a queen from a revered, long lived, dynastic family. She was often the center of his world. They did almost everything together. With her gone a big portion of his life will vanish, so Stan and I will have to fill some of that void quickly. I don’t want him to feel alone or to focus on something none of us have the power to change.
This is normally a happy time for all of us, as I celebrate my birthday in winter, but this year will not be as bright. The year of firsts without her can’t possibly be as luminous as those with her, but we will find our way through the days ahead. She would not want us to be somber; she would want us to fill our world with wonder and explore that new, unknown, territory with wild abandon. I know, because that’s who she was in life.
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