We haven’t updated the blog in a while because we’ve been pretty busy – busy trying to make sure that Billy had the time of his life, during the last days of his life. Billy passed away unexpectedly April 7th, ten days before his 6th birthday. He was happy, and he lived – right up to the last day, the last minute. He passed away, quickly and painlessly, while snuggling with us in bed. I don’t think that we or Billy could imagine a better way to go.
Now, in our last blog post, we brought news of how great Billy was doing, so we’ve got some dots to connect here. We found out March 20th that Billy’s cancer had made its way into his lungs, which is the usual outcome for osteosarcoma, and the worst case scenario. His cancer had also begun to metastasize in a more unusual way, popping up in tumors on his skin. Our vets hadn’t ever even seen this type of cancer spread to the skin. (I guess we always knew that Billy was an unusual dog; we’re not quite sure where he got that trait – certainly not from us). Besides being busy spending time with Billy, I think we also had a hard time bringing ourselves to share the news on the blog.
The next couple of weeks we tried to do whatever we could to bring joy to Billy’s life, since we knew his days were numbered. He got lots of treats and canned dog food; we had all day backyard cookouts and took plenty of trips to the park and beach; and, of course, gave him endless love and attention. We’re lucky that Billy was so easy to please: feed me, love me, play with me. By the middle of March – a month and a half after his amputation – Billy was able to run around just like he always did. Boy, did he impress us! He kept going, and going, and going. But as time went on, he began displaying behavior that really worried us – he started turning away certain food and treats. This is something that a healthy Billy would never do; I mean, this guy ate lemons! But he never gave up on food completely, he just got a bit picker. While he used to be happy to eat carrots, now he wanted pork; a dry bisquit used to be enough to activate his salivary glands, now only a soft and smelly treat would do. We thought that maybe, just maybe, Billy was just trying to milk everything he could out of his illness. He knew that we’d do anything to find something that he’d like to eat. That sneaky little boy.
On the day before Billy died, we spent 8 hours cooking a 6-pound pork roast on the grill. We had such a great day, hanging out in the back yard, relaxing in the sun, and drooling over the smell of our flame-kissed meat (yes, even we were drooling). Billy was visited by many of our neighbors, and some even brought him treats. After a perfect day, and one last night of snuggling, Billy must have thought that there could be no better time to go.
When he suddenly died, we were in shock. Although we knew that he wouldn’t be here forever, he seemed to be doing so well, and we thought we still had some time with him. We expected to have more of a warning. But we soon realized what a gift Billy had given to us – not only in his life, but also in his death. Billy spared us the difficulty of having to watch him suffer, and then deciding that it was time to end his life. He was a happy dog right up to the last day of his life. We are so lucky to have had Billy as a best friend.
The day we found out the Billy’s cancer was spreading, we found a photographer who we could afford, and who could meet us that day in a nearby park, to take some some family photos. We’d been talking about doing this for a while; it was about time. This was the first day since Billy’s surgery that he really let loose, and ran around like the maniac that he was. Here are some pictures from that fun day, and soon we’ll follow up with some of our all time favorites from Billy’s wonderful life.