Opal: August 12, 2006 – October 1, 2012

pet lossUsually I write my monthly articles on topics to educate my clients, but this month I am going to dwell away from this.  You see last night I had to put one of our pets to sleep.  It was one of the most painful decisions that I have had to make.  They say that pets bring us the most joy during their lives, but also give us the most sorrow when we have to say goodbye.

Opal was only six years old.  She was a one-of-a-kind yellow labrador retriever.  She always had that bounce to her step and always was into something.  But last week, everything changed.  She quit eating and had a brown watery diarrhea.  I brought her to the clinic, placed an IV catheter in her and did some blood work on her.  The blood was thin so I knew we had some problems, but little did I know what lied ahead.  The results showed that she was extremely anemic.  She had a disease that we call Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.

AIHA happens because the body is destroying their own red blood cells and it does not have a good prognosis.  Because the red blood cells are being destroyed, less oxygen gets to the organs and cells thus causing organ shutdown.  Looking to fight the odds against us,  I took her over to Hawthorne Animal Hospital for a blood transfusion.  It raised her blood count some, but she was still depressed and weak.  Radiographs revealed that she had some tumors on her spleen that were confirmed with ultrasound.  We were thinking about removing the spleen, but found a tumor on her heart.  So I brought her home and tried to medically treat her in her weakened state.  She did improve some over the week and was looking better.  She was starting to do the things that Opal did to make us laugh at her.  I was happy with her progress until last night when I got home from work.  She had returned to her very weakened state, would not hold up her head, and had bloody diarrhea everywhere.  I knew it was time to relieve her suffering and say goodbye to her.

I will always fondly remember her distinct personality.  No dog ever did it like Opal.  She stopped the treadmill at LaBest.  She would always take the jolt from the electric underground fence just to get out.  She didn’t care, but she was the best.  The summers were always an adventure around the pool with her always sneaking a sandal, towel or whatever she could get a hold of.  She didn’t have many years to grace us with her presence, but we will have a lifetime of memories.  She was loved very much by our family, but the unconditional love returned was unmeasurable.  As my son, Mitchell said last night through his tears, “Opal, you are going to have the best seat for our fireworks shows.”

Rest in peace, Opal.