Sadly, the end of an era

So, ten months after my Yorkie, McCarthy died at the good old age of 14 years, my beloved Higgy said goodbye at nearly 15 years of age.

End of an era - Higgy at the office
Both of us developing a new norm through grief – after McCarthy died, I took Higgy with me to work for a few weeks so that he didn’t feel so alone at home.
The fluffy bunny was a source of comfort after his lifelong brother and friend passed away.

Similarly, Higgy’s passing came as a surprise. He was living happily as an elderly dog and had been such a wonderful and much-needed companion through my unexpected doctor-caused injury where I was left bedridden for about eight months. One day he started coughing more than he had before – I was used to the bouts of “honking” as he had the typical collapsing trachea which is common in the Yorkie breed. I kept a close eye on him that day. The coughing worsened and then his breathing became laboured. I took him to his vet immediately. She was concerned about his breathing as it seemed he had fluid on his lungs. She gave him a prednisone injection as a first step, but a few hours later he wasn’t any better so I rushed him to the animal hospital where he was admitted.

A batch of x-rays was undertaken which revealed the fluid on his lungs, but also an enlarged heart. The vet gave him oxygen and kept him in the oxygen tank for the night and administered diuretic medication to help eliminate fluid retention. The next morning he was slightly better, but by that afternoon when I visited him, he had regressed. I knew he wasn’t going to pull through, I was certain he knew it too as he ambled towards me as I stood at the oxygen-enriched cage and stared at me. I held him and thanked him and told him how deeply I loved him. It was heartbreaking seeing him suffering so much and inwardly I decided that if there was no improvement within two hours I would have to make the incredibly difficult decision to euthanise him.

Higgy in the oxygen tank – our last day together.

I could, unfortunately, not stay with Higgy any longer as the hospital visiting hours had long passed and the vet asked me to please leave as they had to attend to the animals. I left with a heavy heart, and not an hour later received the dreaded call that Higgy’s heart had stopped and he had passed.

In my eyes, it is one of the worst experiences to lose one’s beloved pet who you have loved and received unconditional love from for so many years. I don’t think it gets easier no matter how many times one goes through the experience, but the memories live on and I know my life is all the richer for sharing so many years with my two beloved Yorkies. I swore that day that I would never adopt another pet – the pain of losing them was too much. However, I did not swear that another pet would not adopt me….(a story for another time).

Higgy loved to chill in that chair and watch the birds frolicking outside.

When reflecting on this experience, I decided that I would not include any tips or treatment plans today. Sometimes one simply has to say goodbye as there is nothing more to be done. Old age creeps up on all of us and eventually, the wear and tear of a life well lived takes its inevitable toll. The time to say goodbye arrives – no more advice, no more treatment plans, no more medical intervention, just goodbye. Thankfully, the precious memories live on forever and one is changed for the better in having had the counsel and unconditional love of a loyal pet.

One of our many mountain hikes – never underestimate the adventurous and tenacious spirit of a Yorkie. Higgy and McCarthy could endure 20 km hikes with brief breaks in the bag on scorching days. Simply phenomenal!

Authored by Delilah Nosworthy

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