Dog: Hadlee – Australian Shepherd mix (Mar 23, 2014 – Jun 17, 2019)
Hadlee was my second rescue dog that I adopted. The 5 lb peanut was nicknamed “The Thinker” by her foster mom, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why!
This fluffy little girl was the daughter that my mother always wished upon me – you know, the child “that acts just like you” so you can understand what you put your mother through. She was the most stubborn & bullheaded pup that I have ever met.
Admittedly, at first, I thought she was stupid, but I learned she was just choosing when she wanted to listen to me. The “alpha male” of the house was good at “leading” both her humans and canine siblings.
My choice to adopt her was due to Rhemmy, my first rescue dog, having extreme separation anxiety. Hadlee was “Rhemmy’s dog.”
After only having her for 3 months, this devil child started urinating blood. She also was not growing or gaining weight like her litter mates were. After multiple vet appointments, tests, and doctors, we finally found our life saver!
This doctor did her research and unofficially diagnosed Hadlee with a liver shunt or possible multiple shunts which had caused her to grow some bladder stones at such a young age. The option was to have the stones removed and start a maintenance routine with prescription food and medications, which we did.
Just 6 months later my poor girl was back to urinating blood. She went through another surgery and was soon back to “normal.” I was warned that this could keep reoccurring, and this would be her life – surgery after surgery until she couldn’t do it anymore.
We made it 3 yrs until the next surgery which was in March 2019. This surgery was rough on my girls’ body. It was a long recovery, and she never fully recovered. She continued to urinate blood even after surgery, and her blood work showed she became anemic.
Three weeks later when I got home from work, Hadlee was unable to walk. Literally could not move her legs to take a step. After crying on the floor with her for an hour thinking this was it for her – that she quit fighting, I took her to the emergency animal hospital.
They did blood work to find her white blood cell count was super high – most likely a severe infection. The doctor said it was my choice in how I wanted to proceed. I opted for pain medication and an antibiotic to kick the infection.
Within a few days I felt like I had my dog back. She was even running and playing which, I hadn’t witnessed her do in what seemed like years. Unfortunately, this was her living her best life before she didn’t have one anymore. A week later she started declining again.
After a month of slow decline, I started opting to let her go before she was truly suffering. It took me some time to make the decision mainly because I was selfish. I worked so hard the last 5 years to keep her alive and happy and now I’m going to kill her!?
How messed up is life!? Is it really my choice to decide she doesn’t want to live anymore? How is that fair? I made the appointment but tried one more round of antibiotics and pain medication hoping for a miracle!
Unfortunately, it didn’t come, and she became weak – only getting up to go potty. I was literally feeding her in bed, but she was eating. She wouldn’t even get up for treats. She literally looked at me as if she were saying “I can’t, mom.” It was heartbreaking. Just a short week later she didn’t want to eat anything anymore. She was even turning down eggs! My Hadlee would never ever turn down human food! I decided on that day it was her time.
The day before my mom spent the day with us making paw print memorabilia that I can forever cherish. She had an “doggie ice cream party” with her siblings, and a bacon cheeseburger before being taken to the humane society. I had to hand feed her the burger in small pieces when normally she would have inhaled it. I think I was trying to make myself feel better by giving her all the things she was never allowed to have due to her lifetime illness.
When I opened the door to the humane society, she stopped and looked at me in fear. She did not want to go inside. While in the waiting room, she was whining. In that moment, I wanted to turn around and take her home. Was she trying to tell me she wasn’t ready? Did she understand what was happening? Was her quality of life really compromised? Was this the right decision?
When it was time, we walked back to the room which she did not want to go into. Again, I’m questioning my decision. As I was petting her and telling her everything is going to be okay I told them I was ready. I held my little girl tight as they injected the sedative.
Hadlee screamed and buried her head into my chest. In that moment, my heart broke into a million pieces. I felt every ounce of failure, guilt and regret. She slowly slid onto the floor and fell asleep. I picked her little limp body up to put her on the bed for her final injection. The one that stops her heart. The one that takes my little girl away from me forever.
I’m glad I was there to hold her in her final moments, but it’s an image I will never be able to erase. I miss every pain in-the-ass thing she used to do. There’s no one watching me brush my teeth, cook, or whining to go outside even though I just had her outside 2 min ago but apparently, she didn’t have to pee in that moment. There’s no one swatting Gus when he’s being an obnoxious weenie. Rhemmy’s companion dog is gone. Can I change my mind and get her back?
Her existence in my life taught me so much about love, empathy, loyalty, putting someone else’s needs before my own, and now loss. Sure, I’ve lost family and friends that broke me for a while too, but Hadlee was fully dependent on me for her survival. She gets all the credit in changing my view on life. She lived her best life – to the fullest extent. Whatever Hadlee wanted to do – she did. She didn’t care if she shouldn’t or if someone (me) told her not to because it made her happy – even eating every pile of bird and rabbit shit that she found!
My favorite memory of Hadlee is watching her play in the snow for the first time. She enjoyed the colder weather, and absolutely loved the snow! Next winter I will make some snow angels for her in hopes that she’s watching and laughing at me freezing my ass off for her. I hope you’re pain-free, eating everything you couldn’t have in his life, and watching after your furry siblings. Thank you for teaching me so much about life. I’ll be looking for you when it’s my time to cross the rainbow bridge Hadlee girl 💕