If you follow my instagram @islanddoggie, then you're well aware of the passing of my golden chihuahua, Bugz "Bugzy Boo." He crossed the rainbow bridge on Wednesday, January 25th in the afternoon in our living room. It was all so sudden and unexpected. Now that I've finally found some closure, I'm able to reflect on some of the events that happened before that dreaded day.
On Monday, December 27th, my family and I tucked Bugz and Joey in their furry house on the balcony while we went to go eat some dim sum in Brentwood which was about a 30 minute drive one-way. We had returned around 3pm and took a short nap. Their feeding time is usually between 4:30-5:00pm and my husband woke up to go feed them. He rushed back in the bedroom to wake me, "Shelsea! Shelsea! Bugzy's not moving."
I shot straight up and ran to see him laying stiff halfway out of his house. I quickly picked him up and he was cold to the touch. I wrapped him in a towel and held him close to my chest while my husband warmed him up with the blow dryer. I couldn't believe how quickly the temperature dropped down to the 50's that afternoon. Every so often, his pupils would dilate and and he'd make this gaping or chomping motion - but barely opening his mouth. I didn't know it, but he was having seizures. At one point, he bit down hard on my shoulder and couldn't release it for a few seconds. I packed up some of his food and put him in his soft carrier to rush him to the VCA - Veterinary Specialists of the Valley (not the same as VCA, but carry similar logo) less than a mile away. Upon arrival, one of the technicians took a quick look at him and rushed him to the back. About a half hour later, one of the doctor's spoke with me. She gave me some terrible news about Bugz's condition, but would have to run further testing. At that point, are estimated bill was already over $1000. I confided in a family relative and friend that I might have to put Bugz down that night against my best wishes. I asked the doctor if it would be cruel of me to do so and she gave me an honest reply. She told me that there were underlying issues as to why he wasn't absorbing his proteins and he was severely hypoglycemic - his blood sugar couldn't even read on their glucose meter because it was too low. May be Joey had been eating his food that day and before. She said that wouldn't explain the low protein count, that it could possibly be due to pancreatic cancer or liver disease or both.
I spoke with my husband before the doctor proceeded to do anything else about what we should do. He wanted to say goodbye and have our daughter, Coral, do the same. So, I told the receptionist I'd be back with them and went to go pick them up.
They had their jackets on and ready to go when I arrived back home. We stopped by In-N-Out to get Bugz a cheeseburger thinking it would be his last decent meal and headed back to VSV. They put us in a private room and brought Bugz to us with the catheter sticking out of his neck for the IV. He was on a dextrose drip and back to his spunky kissable self again. It was paradoxical to see him go from almost lifeless to vibrant again. It gave me hope that he did have a chance to come home with us for whatever time that may be. I told them we're no longer going to euthanize him and see how he does without the dextrose drip overnight. We went home with heavy hearts and I waited by my phone for updates from the various doctor's on watch that night.
One of the doctor's called me back to inform me that Bugz indeed had Addison's atypical disease. She mentioned that a ACTH stimulation test was needed to be done to confirm, but that's one of the main things that was wrong with him. Otherwise, he was doing okay at the moment.
The staggered moments of sleep is nothing new to me since I have to monitor my daughter's blood sugars every night. I wasn't expecting any sleep that night either. Somehow, we made it through their next phone call around 7:30am on Tuesday morning. They did the first blood draw and said my regular vet could finish the job. I preferred that over spending another $400-$500 at VSV. I picked Bugzy up from the vet specialists and took him three blocks away from his regular doctor at Woodland Hills Pet Clinic. They checked his vitals and he seemed fine. I gave them the blood samples and they sent it off to the lab. They sent us home with some prednisone (steroids) and a prescription for famotidine (stomach gas).
I kept adjusting his dose of prednisone over the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, due to a financial dilemma, I was not able to bring Bugz back in for a CBC, or complete blood count, days following his last visit as they recommended. We were still trying to pay off the two-thousand something dollars we put on our credit card and had to post-pone getting an insulin pump for our daughter. I knew there were more significant health issues other than Addison's disease and didn't want to spend another $300 to have the CBC confirm something I couldn't do anything about.
Looking back to the year before we left Oahu, even though Bugz was himself, he began showing signs of premature aging with his hair growing out white. I never knew it was due to stress - may be from pain. If his regular doctor at Waikele-Waipahu Pet Clinic wasn't on personal leave the week I took him in for a physical to get the boys health certificates, may be she would've caught it. I actually called her for a second opinion and even she was surprised to hear of his condition. Their prices were a lot more fair than their current vet clinic. That's Woodland Hills for you.
May be Bugz was meant to pass away in his home state. Afterall, I found him on the streets of Gardena in South LA. Read more about that story here. Now, his ashes rest in an aluminum can in a pressed floral paper box on my dresser. I'm thinking of bringing him with us on our next visit back home to have a memorial for him. That's if I can even bear to completely let him go. He's already off to a better place. I just have to accept that he's gone from our physical world. That will take longer than I know because I'm still teary-eyed as I type this. Just FYI, it's taken me days to write this one piece.
If our situation was different where our two year old daughter didn't have a life-threatening chronic disease, then sure, we would've ran that CBC to confirm the presence of liver or pancreatic cancer. Even if we did, it wouldn't have prevented his death, may be just prolonged his suffering. That is something I definitely do not regret.
In loving memory of Bugz, I tried to compile some photos from when I first found him on the streets of Gardena, CA on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010. No collar/ID tags or microchip. He kissed me all over my face and instantly got along with Joey. Sadly, those photos and video are gone from my USB drive. Here's a look at some of our best moments in the short 7 years we had together. He loved road trips, beach days, and cuddling. He was also the victim of daddys shenanigans. I still can't believe he's gone. But, I must move on and be strong like with all other hardships in my life. Mahalo piha for all the kind condolences everyone. Dogs are the best companions anyone could ever have and I'm thankful for that. 🐾 . . . #islanddoggie #goodbyebugz #bugzthechihuahua #bestfuriends #bugzandjoey #thebestchihuahuaever #bugzyboo #iloveyou
If you've experienced the death of a pet, feel free to comment on how you coped or grieved through it all. Mahalo in advance and may we always cherish the memories we've had with our family furiends.
Wags & aloha,