Ziggy Tails: Finale
I know by now you are used to me be being silent and not posting regularly. I last posted sometime in June. Usually I am ghosting you because I am busy or get side tracked. Being consistent with anything is very difficult for me. I am the definition of scatter-brain. I keep trying though and I don't let my limitations hold me back. Where there is life, there is hope. But this time I have purposefully been neglecting my blog. I knew the next thing I wrote I owed to you no matter how difficult it was going to be. So I took some time, a lot of time - almost 2 months worth.
I did keep a journal for a few days to help with the challenge we were going through, so I will try to decipher it into a coherent blog the best I can without loosing the emotions and feelings I was going through. So I may just transcribe it just as I wrote it. Warning: this may be long and emotional.
July 25, 2023
Ziggy had a good day Friday and even on Saturday complete with a trip to Walmart. But Sunday and most of Saturday with the exception of our jaunt to Wally-World, were very challenging. July 4th while we were assisting hikers in the 100-Mile Wilderness Ziggy was a complete mess. He was miserable, He was hard to handle. He was aggressive and everything seemed to bother him. And it was extremely hot. We figured he was just tired. So we thought.
Once we were in the cool truck heading home he kept snapping at the air like he was biting flies. He had been doing that all day. We thought he was annoyed because the bugs were bothering him because the bugs were bothering us too - so we thought. But even at home he kept doing it - there were no flies. I videoed it and vaguely remembered reading something about air-biting in dogs. So google informed me it was a form of seizure.
I contacted the emergency vet and sent them the video. They said I could bring him in or if it didn't get any worse I could hold off and bring him to my vet in the morning. My poor little guy. He had been having seizures all day almost none-stop and I didn't know it. He was exhausted. They weren't your typical seizures with convulsions. They are called focal seizures and can manifest in different ways. His made it look like he was catching flies. Knowing this, we realized he had been doing this since a few months old, just not as consistent. We chose to wait it out. That night he joined me in bed, something he has never done and slept in my arms. I knew something was terribly wrong. If I took my arms off of him he snuggled closer. In the morning I sent the video to my vet and they got me in right away.
It's been twenty days since starting his meds. How time flies. We'd like to say he's cured or at least managed but I'd be fooling myself. Looking back we realize his demeanor had also been changing slowly to where it is really noticeable now; so much so we are having that very difficult discussion about having to let him go. even the kennel has had to modify his time there by putting him in solitude because he became too aggressive with the other dogs. He used to be everyone's pal. All the dogs wanted to play with him. 98% of the time he is absolutely incredible with good days and one healthily happy cattle dog in every sense of the word. It's the other 2% that is becoming unmanageable and downright scary. Even with hours and hours and hundreds of dollars in training, Ziggy seems to be spiraling out of control.
After the scare Sunday when he tried attacking me because I wouldn't let him chase a car, then the same thing the next day when I was walking him from the truck to the trail head he again tried to harm me while I was controlling him from viciously going after a vehicle - I left Bruce in the woods to hike and came home with Ziggy. His unpredictable behavior was too dangerous for me to have around others. This was not like him. We used take him everywhere.
It was easy to forget about the aggressive moments or when he is set off by one of his various triggers when he is cuddling, playing fetch, training and showing off all the cool tricks he had learned.
But we can't forget about Ruger. When the boys were young - 6th and 4th grades - Ruger bit both boys one morning before school. Thankfully their skin wasn't broken but their hearts were. It was an unprovoked event and completely out of the blue. We rushed him to the vet to see if he was sick or hurt. It was a snowy day and school had been cancelled so we had to leave the kiddos alone. On the ride down to the vet, Ruger kept eying Bruce with a menacing look that was freighting. Ruger was a large malamute and up until that morning, a gentle giant. I had to keep my arm between the two front seats to prevent the dog from going after Bruce.
The warning signs were there months before but we dismissed them because they were minor and we thought just normal dog stuff. But now, we knew better and we can't let that happen again no matter how difficult it may be. It is not a risk we are willing to take. My heart aches. It's been a short two and half years since we flew to Missouri to bring Ziggy home. I've put so much time and effort and love into Ziggy. I love him dearly and he has helped me get over some dark stuff. But it is so stressful not knowing when that aggressive 2% will come forward. Especially since the intensity and frequency of those bouts are increasing dramatically.
I talked with Stephen about what was going on and he was full of doubt and skepticism about my gloomy possible decision. But right before going to bed, Ziggy lunged and snapped at Stephen when all Stephen was trying to do was tell him goodnight. These incidents are happening more and more, even with us - Ziggy's family and treasured pack.
Right now I am parked at Pollywog. I met up with Bruce at Namakanta Lake where he camped the night before. I dropped Ziggy off at the kennel - where he must spend his time in solitude - then I drove back to the woods to meet with Bruce. I couldn't bring Ziggy in fear of his increasingly aggressive tendencies towards people and vehicles. I am resting in the back of the truck protected from the onslaught of biting insects journaling as I contemplate Ziggy's fate. My heart cries. The soothing babbling stream and chirping birds do little to console my pain.
29 July 2023
Update since July 25. Bruce is on his final push to finish his 100-Mile Wilderness hike. He sill needs to go back and finish 4 miles he had to walk around due to high water. Here I sit at Gulf Sagas waiting for him to pop out of the woods. I sit here alone, not because Ziggy is at the kennel like the other day, but because he is no longer with us. He spiraled even faster down hill than expected. When we picked him up from the kennel he was so amped up he tried to bite Bruce. He continued to have seizures despite his meds and changing meds up. He was even more agitated with simple things - the cat, grass tickling his legs, sneezing, vehicles, dogs barking, and a host of other triggers. It was as if his nervous system had been fried. Then he just lost all energy. His playful bouts were short - going from hours at a time to only a few minutes before he needed to rest. His panting was non-stop. I called the vet and an appointment was made to end his life at 4:30pm on Wednesday.
Due to his anxious and aggressive tendencies, I was told a mixture of medication to give him from previous meds we had on hand. I was to administer it to him two hours before his appointment. Wednesday was spent focusing on him. When he wasn't resting we did whatever he wanted which wasn't much. The poor guy was sick now too. Was it another mystery of what ailed him? It couldn't have been anything different he ate cuz we didn't give him anything new. His last day with us was plagued by diarrhea and lethargy. We are so grateful the day before was great. It was like nothing was wrong. We stayed home and inside with him. Taking him out only to use the bathroom on the quiet side of the house. That helped to manage his triggers that were so upsetting to him.
2:30pm - the time to give him his Gabapentin/Trazadone cocktail - came to soon. 3 + 4 = 7 pills I needed to disguise within a tasty treat. I am supposed to be the one Ziggy can trust no matter what. Over the past 2 and a half years we built a bond that seemed unbreakable. He was my everything and I was his. But whatever was riddling his brain, was shattering our bond one trigger at a time. I could no longer trust him. I never knew when he would spaz out, knock me over, or worse bite me or someone else. But his brown almond eyes still looked to me like I held the keys to his universe as I fed him the drugs that were the beginning to his end. How am I going to live with myself.
Not enough cuddles could fit into the next 90 minutes before we had to leave home. His travel crate was removed from the truck and replaced with his blanket. The two of us climbed in the back where the seats were folded up so we could cuddle the short 25 minutes to the clinic. Usually Ziggy couldn't wait to visit Dr. Dave. But the last time we were there was stressful for Ziggy or maybe he understood what was happening. He refused to enter the building. I hoisted him up into my arms and carried him in.
Our vets office has a wonderful layout. All exam rooms have their own exit. On this sad occasion, MIchaela met us at our room's opened door. I carried my dear Prince Ziggy the Taco Bear of Chillicothe into the sterile room. The clean 4-walled cell waited for us. In the center was a green plastic padded mat. I let Ziggy down and removed his collar and leash. He no longer would be needing it and I no longer would hear it's jingle alerting me of his whereabouts as we hiked in the woods.
The caring Dr. Dave and his wonderful wife, Michaela both joined Bruce, myself, and Ziggy. The day before on our phone call, she explained how they too had to lay to rest one of their own beloved pets for the same issues way too young.
Though Ziggy was already sleepy from the drugs given at home, a stronger dose in the form of a shot was needed to relax him even more. Ziggy does not like shots and needed a muzzle. Even with all the drugs in his system he was still too amped up to trust. The vet tech handed me the muzzle, after all, I was the one he trusted. And I am the one who keeps bringing him one step closer to death.
Dr. Dave spared no time with the injection. One quick poke and a push of the plunger elicited a painful more like drama-queen yelp and a muzzle-stifled nip directed at the tech from Ziggy. I called him over to rest on the green island mat that now was covered with his blanket. I knelt down slightly behind his head and Bruce sat beside him with his legs extended parralleling Ziggy. I encouraged Ziggy to cuddle with Bruce Since a work thing tied Bruce up at home. I wanted him to have one last cuddle time. But Ziggy kept searching for me.
The drugs raced though Ziggy's veins and as he became calmer. The first shot was only to make him super sleepy and less anxious before the lethal does was given. Ziggy strained to find me even though I held him and he could hear me, he couldn't see me well. Not being able to lift his head which now laid in my lap, he shifted his eyes in search of mine. With one final glance our eyes locked. Mine spilled with fluid as I said, "I'm her boy." Bruce reassured him also with a soft, "Mommies right there, it's okay. Go to sleep." Ziggy's trusting eyes, glued to mine were screaming at me, Mommie, what's going on. Then his eyes closed part way as snores replaced his nervous panting.
By this time, everyone had left the room leaving the three of us to have our time in private. Shortly later, Dr. Dave returned to see if we were ready. How can anyone truly be ready for this. He was so young. He was so smart. He was so much fun. We had so many more hikes to do. And as Bruce would say, "Ziggy always made me smile." 98% of the time he was perfect and everything we could have ever hoped for and more. But that 2% was dangerous. It wasn't our fault and it certainly wasn't his fault. But guilt still races through my brain even knowing he was sick and there was nothing we could do about it. He trusted me and with that trust came the responsibility to do what was best. And this time what was best for Ziggy was to let him go.
So now, I sit here alone again without my beloved Prince Ziggy the Taco Bear of Chillicothe. He was to be my partner in crime. My hiking buddy. My snack buddy. My everything buddy. I was to be his bestie human. But life doesn't always go as we want. It's then when we must dig deep and put our trust in God because in His way we can always trust even if our short sightedness tells us otherwise.
With that last couple of sentencing I will admit I was absolutely furious with God. I yelled and screamed at him for taking my dog away. Sure, it's just a dog, right? It's not like it's a person with a soul. But Ziggy really was my everything. He wasn't Bruce. But he was my companion. He was a healing force that come to me just when I needed him to help me get back on track emotionally and just like that Ziggy is gone. I was more than a little irate with the big guy upstairs and I let him know so. When all my screaming, tantrums, and tears were done, I heard a whisper telling me all will be okay. And I trust that.
Our hearts are still very broken. I don't know if I can go through that again. But just last night a friend sent me a photo of a dog who needs rescuing. We inquired. If it's meant to be - it will be. I trust that too.
Thank you for following along with Ziggy Tails. It has been a wild and fun journey with memories that will forever be etched in my heart. I also appologize in advance for the photo dump - 159 of them to be exact. He was such a ham and loved his photo taken.
In Loving Memory of Prince Ziggy