This has been one of the most difficult posts I’ve written to date.
2015 ended on a very devastating note for Hubs and me. We had to let our precious Hershey cross the rainbow bridge. It was one of the most excruciating decisions that we’ve ever had to make. But in the end, we had to do what was best for our little guy.
Chihuahuas have been in my life since my early twenties; I dog-sat for a family friend’s little one occasionally. She had such a fun personality. From then on, I knew this dog breed would be in my life forever. In 2004, I bought a little Chihuahua (Oscar) and in 2007 my sister brought another Chihuahua home; they became two peas in a pod. When I got married and left my family home, I couldn’t take my Chi away from his friend. About a year and a half of being married and away from my doggies, I felt that something was missing. In January 2011 my sister sent me a link to a dog on Petfinder.com. His name was Hershey. I was a little wary of a rescue dog, only because of unknown backgrounds, temperaments and genetically predisposed diseases. Was he abused? What would set him off? But that all went away when we found out that he was abandoned on the coldest day that month, wandering the streets. He was found in a little town called Hershey, Pennsylvania. And that’s how he got his name. He just happened to be the same color as the chocolate. Hubs and I went through the lengthy adoption process and brought him home on February 5.
It definitely took a while for Hershey to get acclimated to us. He wasn’t the typical cuddly chihuahua that I was used to. He was independent and had a whole lot of spunkiness. Hubs would joke that he was probably raised by cats, or part cat. A few months after we got him, he was found to have bladder stones. We had to do what was right for our family and got him surgery to remove them. After that, he continued to bring so much joy to us with his crazy antics. It was becoming clear that his personality was so much bigger than his small stature.
Sometime in 2012, during a routine vet visit, the doctor found that Hershey had a heart murmur. No big deal. We had him on medication and fish oil. He went from a grade 2-3 to almost non detectable after a few months. We were thrilled!
In January 2013, we moved to Vienna, Austria. We wouldn’t dare leave him behind, so we made sure all the proper paperwork and medical examines were taken care of. This lucky pup got to fly in business class and did wonderfully on the long flight. Given his antics, we did expect him to act up a bit, but he surprised us.
Unfortunately, his heart murmur got worse. At his first checkup in Vienna, his murmur has raised to a solid 3 or 4 on a scale of 6. He was prescribed a single new pill, but stronger than the first one to manage it. Then, in March 2014, he was diagnosed with the beginning stages of congestive heart failure (CHF). The doctors assured us that with medication, dogs live very fulfilling and long lives. Little did we know that we were just buying Hershey time. By the end of 2015 he was on four different medications daily. The medications never seemed to bother him, however. He kept right on with his spirit and was just as feisty and playful as the day we got him. Life was good.
In the early hours of December 27, 2015, we were abruptly awoken to Hershey’s heavy breathing, non-responsiveness, limp limbs, and fully dilated eyes. I put my ear to his chest and heard no heartbeat, but he was still barely conscious. We rushed him to a 24hr Vet Hospital and waited for doctors to do what they needed to do. Sitting in that waiting room was painful. They came back and told us that he was stable, but in critical condition. His condition was caused by a build up of fluid around his heart, the fluid prevented his heart from pumping correctly and supplying his small body with circulation. The doctors did mention the possibility of end stage CHF. He stayed for two nights to get a bunch of testing done and was doing better after they had drained the fluid. Hubs went to pick him up on December 29 after work. They didn’t even get 50 meters from the front door when Hershey collapsed. Again, he was rushed in. The doctors were puzzled, because they thought that this was idiopathic and not related to his heart problems. In the two days he stayed at the hospital he had no fluid build up, but the moment we were to leave there it was again. They drained it once again and the doctors gave us the option to have him stay overnight or take him home. We decided on the latter. Not even 24hrs later, we saw early signs of problems and went to the hospital to have him re-checked. I lost it when I saw the doctor’s face when she came back to us. The fluid was back. Hershey’s quality of life would be abysmal. He barely had any energy, and the feistiness we knew was mostly gone. It was then that we decided that we didn’t want him to suffer anymore. December 30, 2015 was the worst night of our lives.
Hubs and I never thought we could love an animal as much as we loved Hershey. We have been left with gaping holes in our hearts that can never be replaced.
Until we meet again, our dear Hershey bear, you meant the world to us. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life. We will forever love you.