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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

Tag: desperation

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I now only ever seem to write on December 10 and that makes it three years now. Three years or a lifetime. I feel like a completely different person with a whole other life – but then again the world around me has changed just as much.

I sometimes feel older than my years and when I imagine you, Manni, it feels like I am looking out of my Granny armchair, with a checkered woolen blanket over my knees, remembering the way the world was then, in Technicolor almost. That’s because it does not feel like the two of us together would ever fit into the world right now so it’s more like revelling in the memories of my youth.

Today, I look out from my armchair and in my mind’s eye I see the first gently falling snow of three years ago, I hear in my mind your quiet whimper early in the morning telling me that the pain is getting too much even for you to bear, I see the painful way I try to make smalltalk with the vet through my held-back tears, I see you hopping into your yard to feel the first snow and I see you, or what once was you, lying peacefully, head slightly sideways on your one front paw, having taken with you everything that defined me.

I let my mind wander back another two years, the two years that broke so much of me and all of you. I see you being taken in for an MRI, after a horrible night of morphine, to find out what was wrong with you and thinking that maybe you just had a thorn in your paw, like the little lion that you were. Two years back to when I had to make the decision in 15 minutes of whether or not to take the leg of an animal that was born to run;  to the nail-biting five days you spent at the clinic with me wondering how in the world I was to know what the right decision was for you and not for me. Getting you back in the sterile surroundings, out of your head on meds and missing a leg. Hearing you scream, loudly, for the first time when I try to get you in the car and then crying my eyes out.

My younger self is shaking a little, eyes getting moist. I tell my mind’s eye to get back to the present and shake off lingering ghosts and horrors. I open my eyes and I see Thilo, in whose eyes I can do no wrong and I am glad he doesn’t know. I see the latest addition to the household, little Erna, who is just so ridiculously cute that it’s almost absurd. I see our new house and am briefly reminded that I purposely left your dissolvable urn in the old yard because it was your yard, really, and you would have wanted to stay.

Scrooge slowly turned into a better person by being visited by his ghosts. What made me a better person, Manni, was you – whatever that makes me now.  And so I once more welcome both your front paws on my knees with the checkered blanket. I hold your head and bury my nose into the silken fur behind your ears and take in your scent. And then I let you go. Again.

Until next year, Baby,

Ich lieb’ dich.

everywhere you go.


The cold, hard truth.


Hello all.

First of all: thanks for all the wonderful comments on my first post!

I was asked what we did for the phantom pains, if we did chemo, and so on. Let me start at the beginning. That being the day of my having to decide whether to put my dog to sleep or let them amputate a whole limb on an animal that has it in his nature and all instincts to, well, run. I tend to sound a little bitter on that topic, don’t I? Sorry.

So I decided I wanted to say I tried everything. However, I so feared that trying everything was not doing the dog justice but rather put him through hell. But it’s not like you can un-make that decision. The whole thing was actually a year ago yesterday. A Thursday. It was 9 (yes, in words, nine!) hours until I heard back from the clinic. 9 hours of devastation, pacing and crying. They failed to prepare me for how long the surgery takes. I have heard of quicker surgeries from other people by now but to be honest: it does make sense for it to take that long. I mean: you don’t just saw off the bone, do you?

So they finally called, late at night, when hours before I had already knocked on their door wanting to know if my dog made it. Then they told me I would “probably” get my dog back by Sunday, they wanted to keep him under observation and because he was still bleeding out of a drain. I was a wreck by Sunday, questioning my decision over and over, going in circles. The clinic offered me to visit him (offered, not advised) which I didn’t do because, well, he gets to see me and then I leave again? No.

On Sunday I was told he was still bleeding a little and that they wanted to keep him until Tuesday.

So on Tuesday I waited in one of the little rooms in the clinic, anxious and scared, and in hopped my little warrior. He still seemd a little dazed but I got him in the car and drove home. Yes, of course with different meds and advice and the next appointment in my purse.

When I got him out of the car he screamed for the first time. I almost dropped him and immediately started to tear up. I know I know: be strong for them. Carry on. Easy to say.

The worst sound I have heard in my entire life. Literally. That dog became my responsibility when I decided to give him a home. And he became a part of myself over the years. That scream (and the many more to come) broke my heart. And made me question my decision over and over again.

This was at home one of the first days:




It actually looked alright except for a big lump on the underside with fluid built-up. The suture was pretty good and the surgeons actually made an effort to close it in a way that wouldn’t mess up his coloring – which is a nice touch.

The first night, Manni actually went outside and peed. And screamed. twice. After that he refused to move pretty much. He did eat. Sort of. Little bits. But only if we brought it to him. Going outside would mean one would gently pull and one would gently push from behind. Forcing him. I HATED IT.

To make this shorter: along came Lilly and things got better.


The phantom pains, the screaming, stayed with us for 6 months. Yes, six. And we did try different meds (I have not heard of Gabapenthin here in Germany but it might just be called differently).

The screaming turned into yelping and it got less over time.

As I said before I gave Manni four weeks to manage. He only just made it and I cursed myself for putting him through it every single minute of every single day. That’s how it really was. Not like I sugar-coat it almost every day when people stop, stare and then say how “well he manages, poor thing”.

I know I should be thankful I still have him, especially after 12 months and believe me when I say I AM! So much!

But the first weeks, and the diagnosis, and that decision: I don’t know about all of you who have been through similar things, but it was traumatic for me. And I hope, boy do I hope, less so for my dog.

To answer the question about chemo:

yes, we did do that. The way things were explained to me, especially the median survival rates with vs. without, I didn’t feel we had a choice. And so far, time has proven that to be the right thing. I have not mentioned chemo before and am not getting into it more because we really sailed through it. An upside, for once. From what I’ve read it’s the same ingredients here that they use in the U.S., carboplatinum and such.

We did physical therapy as soon as the suture allowed it and through the therapist found a group for handicapped and old dogs where they use different parcours and trails to build up muscles and balance. I will post a video of that later, I think. It is priceless for rehab and also a great way to spend quality time with my dog!

Let me finish with this: I do not regret the decision I made in the slightest. I am oh so thankful for every second more that I have with my dog. My beautiful miracle wonderdog. But, and that is a pretty big but: if I had chosen the other path it would have been ok, too. I truly believe that. But at least now both of us can say: we did it! We used all available resources and all our strength but we did it! and we made it this far!

If anyone is reading this who is still in the decision-making process: it is so easy to say “go with your heart”. I didn’t feel like my heart really knew, either. I just know you have to stand by your decisions and live with them. and, above all, do whatever you can for your pup – they are your responsibility.

It actually feels really good to be writing this all down, venting. Thank you for bearing with me!

last, not least, by popular demand 🙂 this is Lilly, the amazing neighbordog and Manni, about 6 months post-amp:



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