Today is the one year anniversary of the passing of our dog Nana, the inspiration for starting Ohana Pets. Today also marks the third day since we lost Izzy, our sweet soft coated wheaten terrier. The passing of these two life altering dogs 363 days apart has made us ponder their lives and deaths. So today, we attempt to make sense of their contrasting paths to departing the physical world: a sudden passing versus a long goodbye.
Our two dogs were yin and yang. Nana was sophisticated while Izzy was naive. Izzy was three months older than Nana but Nana had an old soul and seemed like she was Izzy's mother. Izzy was our wild child, always getting into things and then smiling and giving kisses so you couldn't be upset with her. She remained puppy-like up to the very end.
We raised Izzy from a puppy and adopted Nana from the Humane Society when she was two years old. When we adopted Nana, she had endured traumas that emotionally scarred her. She was very untrusting of men and deathly afraid of fly swatters. If she heard a fly in the house, she knew it would need to be swatted and she would run off to hide under the bed. We tried to avoid using the fly swatter in her presence because it was so sad to see her run away even though she was in a safe home. Izzy had none of these fears and everything was a game to her.
Not only were their personalities opposite but their passings as well. Nana loved to eat and one afternoon she wouldn’t eat anything. We thought maybe she had eaten something she wasn't supposed to and it would pass, everything would be fine. The next morning, everything was not fine. She couldn’t walk and we knew it wasn’t something that would resolve itself. We took her to the emergency vet and after examining her, they told us she had a tumor in her spleen that had started to bleed. We had no idea she had a tumor, she had given no indications up until the night before that there was something amiss. There was nothing we could do and we had to say goodbye that morning. Her’s was a sudden passing at eight years old but only with us for six. We were crushed.
This past January, five months after Nana passed, Izzy started to lose a lot of weight. We thought maybe she missed Nana. We took her to our regular vet and he palpated her internal organs and told us there was a mass in her liver. He said we could do a biopsy but that it was probably cancer and the biopsy process was very invasive. He told us there was nothing to do for her. Once again, we were in shock. We decided to take her to a different vet and they said that the mass was stable and prednisone could help her for a little while. Prednisone worked wonders and we had our happy go lucky Izzy back. We knew we would have to say goodbye at some point in the near future. The prednisone afforded us an extra six months with Izzy and we had a long goodbye with her.
Dogs are the best thing in this crazy world we live in, yet they are snatched from us far too soon. Cats are awesome also but we get to be with them so much longer. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 14-16 years, while the average dog lifespan is 10-15 years. Neither Nana nor Izzy made it ten years. We would have given anything to get 15 years with them both.
Now that we have lost both of our beloved pups, it has raised the question: Is it “better” to have a long goodbye or a sudden passing? Both are equally heartbreaking and painful, and no matter what, there is no “better” answer.
The sudden passing of Nana hurt more for sure. The unexpectedness of losing Nana still hurts a year later. The passing of Izzy after being sick for seven months hurts but we are also thankful we got to show her all the love in the world and practicing gratefulness everyday she was still with us. Izzy was the baby and saying a long goodbye let us baby her even more.
With the suddenness of Nana, we go over and over thinking: Did we miss something? Could we have done something sooner to save her? But the answer to both of those questions is no. Nana was so stoic that she showed a brave face and masked her pain, until it was unbearable and too late to intervene. That fit her personality as being worldly and her passing suddenly also fit her personality.
The biggest issue we have with the sudden passing of Nana is the guilt. Did we show her we loved her everyday? Did she know she meant everything to us? Did she hate us in the end when she was suffering? Does she blame us for her passing? All of these questions float through our brains. We think the answer to the first two are yes, she knew she was loved and adored. The answers to the last two are more complicated because it is our guilt that formulates those questions. But they also aren’t complicated because of the love that we showed her and love she showed us. The definitive answer to the last two questions in no, she didn’t hate us or blame us in the end.
Since we had a long goodbye with Izzy, we aren’t faced with the same level of guilt and questioning if we showed her love and adoration. There is still some level of questioning if she hates us or blames us for for passing but once again it’s our own guilt and has nothing to do with her love. She showed us she still loved us in the end when she gave us her trademark delicate kisses even when she was clearly uncomfortable.
Even though they are both gone, their sudden passing and long goodbye fit them perfectly. We deeply loved both of them and now they are our guardian angels. They will watch over us and guide us as we grow and share the pet treats that they inspired.