Day: June 21, 2021

Pax, a black Labrador mix, lays on a brown wood floor. His muzzle is graying and one paw lays folded underneath him. His brown eyes look right at the camera.

🌈🐾 11/5/2011 – 6/10/2021🐾🌈

Pax Nebel was the best of the good boys. He entered our home when Abi was 2 months old, Susannah was 2, and Jonas was 5.

He slept beside scared kids and barked whenever a door opened, and comforted us when we were sad, and put up with two Weimaraner puppies joining the family pack.

At meal time, even the last couple of years as old age slowed him down, he would leap in circles like a puppy.

When he sat outside in all kinds of weather, he always picked a spot by the fence at a small rise. We joked that it was his way to “survey the kingdom,” and he was a beneficent ruler.

He shed fourteen pounds of hair every single year and he pulled on his leash every single time we passed another dog out walking, no matter what we tried to teach him about good manners.

For almost ten years, he has been our family’s pokey old Eeyore, a gentle soul with four paws. We named him ‘peace,’ and he truly brought peace wherever he went.

Cancer is unfair and unkind, whether it shows up in humans or in our furry family members. On June 8th, we took Paxie-boy to our vet for a routine dental cleaning (a necessity for elder canines) as we have done for the last few years. Prior to giving him anesthesia, they always check his bloodwork and his heart, and it has always come back fine. This year, the bloodwork was concerning.

The vet asked to do some further testing instead of proceeding with his teeth, and discovered a huge tumor –a hemangiosarcoma– on his spleen. The tumor was so big, our vet said she didn’t feel comfortable taking him to surgery. We brought him home with a medication similar to Warfarin for humans, and information about a specialty clinic two hours away that might be able to do the operation. At that point, we were hopeful: maybe, if the specialist would take him, he could have six more months with us?

On the 9th, we found out that the specialty clinic also considered the tumor inoperable. The best-case scenario for this type of cancer looked like a week or two weeks’ survival, and then the tumor would either cause him to bleed internally or have organ failure. We couldn’t put him through that. We also had planned to travel the following week, and we couldn’t leave town knowing that he could have his final days without us by his side.

On June 10th, we told our kids what Pax was facing. (Chris discusses palliative care and end-of-life decisions with families of patients all the time. He was so calm and so amazing at helping our crew understand what was happening in Pax’s body and why the kindest care we could give our good boy was to choose to let him go.) We cried together, and we spent the day giving him belly rubs and tons of treats. We brushed him and bathed him, and told him how much we loved him and that he had done the best job caring for us, and it was time to rest.

Our family is so thankful for our kind and compassionate vet and her staff. We felt so informed and supported through this most difficult 48 hours. I’ll always be grateful for the way they have cared for Pax for the past nearly 10 years and the way they cared for us in his last moments.

We feel a little bit lost now. The house is a little quieter. The Weims don’t seem 100% like themselves. Each of us has small waves of grief that well up unexpectedly. Our hearts are broken – but the love of a good dog is worth it.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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