I had not imagined I would not celebrate her 10th birthday with her. After all, miniature schnauzers are small breed and could easily more than a decade old..
Or so I thought.. but not for Jelly.. who even went earlier than her big brother Jojo - my Goldie who will turn 11 end of this month. He is showing sign of aging but otherwise healthy.
When I decided to have my own dogs and treat them like own children, I always fear of the day they die - because a dog’s life span is so short, as compared to human..
Jojo was my `firstborn’, but when he was about a year-old, I longed to have another dog, mainly to keep him company. I decided to have a miniature schnauzer because Jojo seemed to get along well with the breed when he was in Obedience class.
So, without telling my parents who didn’t like the idea of another dog, i went to the pet shop when they were overseas on vacation.. there I saw a litter of schnauzer puppies, so cute and adorable.. and somehow from that few puppies, I picked up a girl who had a bond with me. I took her home.. she was tiny, grey in colour and not that pretty but very cute.
At first I wanted to name her `Jamie’, but somehow mom didn’t like it and threaten to call her `Lulu’ because `Jamie’ was not easy for her to pronounce. No way was I gonna call her that name and I wanted it to be another `J’ so that’s how `Jelly’ came about.
Jelly, as compared to Jojo, was an easier `child’ to take care of. She hardly chew and destroy things, and learned to housebreak quite soon. She grew and changed quite a bit in appearances. I would say she looked better as she aged. I brought her to obedience class but regretfully she never graduated because they had to cancel the class due to rain and changed it to Sunday morning - the timing clashed with church service.
But Jelly never gave bahavorial problem. She is gentle and eager to please, yet has her own stubborn way. My Two Js became my pride and joy. Though I must admit although I doted on them, I was not a well informed dog owner.. until perhaps today I knew more..
Jelly, unlike her elder brother, was cool and courageous in many ways. She is one dog that is not afraid of thunder or even fireworks and firecrackers. in fact, she is quite thrilled by it and she would go outside to look out for the sound, be it deafening even to human ears. Jojo would be totally scared and chew up tissues neurotically but Jelly, she has no fears.
She is so brave that she would venture anywhere. When that new steep metal stairs were built to join the front garden down to our big back garden, Jojo just refused to use it, or even dared to step on it. Jelly, on the other hand, had no qualms walking up and down.
I remember a harrowing incident in 2011.. when Jelly was `lost’!! Mom accidentally let the gate opened and she ventured out. And this time did not come home after an hour. When I came home, mom was in tears.. saying that she could not find Jelly.
So I went around our gated neighbourhood, with my car and on foot, to all the places we took her to for walks. And she was nowhere in sight. I got more worried and prayed frantically. But it’s unlikely she could be taken, as I even asked the guard and they never saw anything suspicious. The only thing was she could have fallen or got hurt and was stuck. I prayed and was in tears but still remain hopeful..
When I passed a house in construction, it was as if I had a sixth sense or call it the `mom’s instinct’, I went in and thinking Jelly could be there. And surely, I found her at a lower tier of the ground floor, surrounded by steels and construction material. And there she was, looking at me with her big eyes. Not making any noise but obviously really happy that I came to her rescue!
What a relief!! Jelly was found. I even posted a note and photos there and after rescuing her, took her back and she was unfazed by being in that house again!
That’s how brave and adventurous my Jelly could be
Unfortunately Jelly’s health was the poorest among the three dogs. At about 2-3, she had ear infection and had to undergo her first G.A. After that, she became more attached to me and slept in my room, on my bed at most times. Her ear continued to be problematic with excessive wax or ear mites even..
As jojo was sleeping in the porch already, Jelly became the one who spent most time with me. She would follow me everywhere in the house, and even when I showered, she would come and waited for me by the shower chamber. She loved car ride and would just jump into the passenger seat if opportunities struck. She was happiest when she was out either for a car ride, or for her walk.
Jelly has become mom’s favourite and remained so till she passed away. She was pretty much a glutton, thus her body size continued to grew so much that I had to put her on low-fat formula because she took on senior food. She was one of the biggest size miniature schnauzer I ever knew.. Yet was also smart, and friendly toward other dogs. But she liked to make noise at young children and she would protest at people who disliked her - such as my uncle or aunt.
Without me anticipating, Jelly initially could not accept Jam when he came in late 2010. after all, she was the pampered one for 6 years. Maybe she was jealous or viewed Jam as a threat. Although the little rascal also liked to bully her.. I saw for close to half a year, Jelly was not happy, was almost depressed… till she finally came to accept that little brother of hers, though was never terribly fond of him.
Jelly is very much an individualist and can be a loner. While Jojo and Jam played with each other, Jelly sat in a distance watching, minding her own business. When I started walking the three Js regularly since 2011, I could see Jelly was more or less the `gang leader’ - the two brothers kinda look out and follow her in many ways. They even adopted her outdoor pooping and peeping habit!
But she in a way is also the smartest of the three - cool and collected. And she was the only one who could do `roll’ and could cleverly detect where the squeezing sound comes form in a toy. With her teeth she easily could make the beep but not the other two dogs!
In a way, being the only female, she is like a `ring leader’ as the other two kinda look upon her and follow her, evident from our walks.. How I miss having three of them walking together!
At the same time, Jelly is also the most sensitive and intuitive among the three. She would be the one who looks sad even days before we depart for vacation or brought out the suitcases! She could sense we were leaving her a while. And she was the one who would miss me and miss mom when we were away. Jojo and Jam were usually not affected. Jelly’s the one who was closest to her human family.. She loved us very much I know.
The illness crept in.. unknowingly..
While her skin and ears have been problematic, she became seriously ill for the first time in Nov last year. She lost appetite and refused to eat. That i think was the time the tick fever manifested itself. yet I was too ignorant to know of its seriousness. The local vet only took a bit of her blood and said it was contaminated due to `tick fever’ and she needed anti-biotic. The vet asked me to take Jelly back a week later when the course finished. By then she was eating well and behaving normal. but I was told, her blood was still not clear, so another course of antibiotic was given. This time however, after the course finished and seeing Jelly back to normal totally, i didn’t bring her back for another test.. Little did I know the disease has already attacked her blood palate and it was going to deteriorate to an extent that was too late…
So all seemed well and normal. But since the beginning of this year, I noticed Jelly became slower in many things, like walking up the stairs. Of course, at hyper time, she still could run, but gradually, she was getting more and more lethargic. I wasn’t very alarmed because I thought she was just aging, plus she was overweight so this seemed `natural’. I really regret now not to have seen the sign…
Then about mid April, just barely 3-4 weeks back, one morning, I watched a video on YouTube that talked about dogs that have cancer. I have always worried about the lumps on her body and particularly some rather hard and large ones, but they did never really increased in size. The local vet had said a GA would be needed to test whether they were cancerous but since she was behaving quite normally then, and the lumps did not grow, I delayed it.
After watching the video, I thought I must bring Jelly for a thorough check-up because lately she had been more and more lethargic. So I did but the vet, instead of checking her for cancer, which he felt the lumps were quite normal, decided to check her blood and organs instead. Then I had a shock when I was told her blood palate was extremely low, at a critical level almost. Rightly or wrongly, the vet just prescribed her some antibiotic. and said I must continue monitoring her blood palate level. It could be quite dangerous but he didn’t elaborate a lot.
Only two days after putting her on the antibiotic and meds, something shocking happened. One afternoon she started throwing up non-stop, from all the food she had in her stomach till finally vomiting blood - almost like fresh blood. I frantically bring her to the vet hospital and surely she had to be hospitalised. Overnight, her vomits stopped but her palate was very low. She was there for two nights. Then the vet discharged her with more medicine to finish and said she should come back in a week for another blood test.
I already thought of the worse when she vomited so badly but seeing the vomiting has stopped and she gradually gained back momentum and eating normal, the optimistic me thought she could recover gradually from that low blood platelet with proper medication. Then after she was given another round of med and having done test that showed slight improvement, one day - exactly two weeks ago - she totally didn’t want to eat and was week. I decided to seek second opinion and took her to a more reputable vet hospital. a serious of tests including X-ray were done but that night she wasn’t hospitalised. Also that afternoon, her poop was soft and turned dark in colour - a mixture of old blood.
As she refused to eat at all, I decided to take her back to the vet the next morning and she was hospitalised with drip.. her blood results were worse than before - as red blood cells were also extremely low.
The next day - when the whole family came to see her - we were told she `collapsed’ in the morning thus she was moved to downstairs where she would be observed closer. She was to be given her first blood transfusion that afternoon.. And after that the following day, there was some improvement. She even ate some soft food! And she looked happy to see mom and me.. there were signs of live and I was hopeful she would slowly recover still.
But no, it was not to be as we found out just barely one day after the blood transfusion, her RBC and platelet dropped again so doctor gave her another transfusion on Saturday. By that time, more tests had been done and at least her newly appeared lumps (which could be due to stress of diseases) were tumours..but what’s happening is the worrying non-stop internal bleeding in the intestines, which was linked to the low platelet and RBC.. Somehow the vet could not be certain which was the cause, and whatever they did could not help to improve or reverse.
On Sunday, I started seeking alternative help, and brought her fresh pig liver but she didn’t like.. at least she was eating soft food. I spent so many hours with her, since thankfully I had no work and didn’t go to Camerons with family. By Monday morning her platelet dropped back to very low again and I could tell the vet has almost exhausted what he could do.. but not to give up, he allowed Jelly to have another transfusion, and this time Melissa has kindly brought her robust Lab Dunken to donate blood.. I was secretly hoping healthy Dunkan’s fresh blood would benefit Jelly.. and that she would have a new lease of hope. But no, the blood test the following day showed very little improvement. By then, I know I had to take Jelly home as she was so miserable at the hospital. I was mentally prepared for the worst..
But I wasn’t ready to give up. With some encouragement from dog-loving friends and also really could not let her go, I even went and got her Chinese medicine and after a difficult, almost sleepless night thinking Jelly could go anytime, I decided to have a last shot by bringing to a vet that’s highly recommended. Dr Vijay is great but brutally honest. He didn’t need to do any test but looking Jelly’s last few blood tests and her condition, he said: `your dog is going to die.’ I wasn’t surprised myself but I pleaded for any hope.. He said if she were his dog, he would put Jelly to sleep. But he won’t help me decide, but told me a second option which would be very tough on both myself and Jelly. With more drastic medication and put in everything, she might have a slim chance to live or she might go as well. But there was a slim hope..
I couldn’t let Jelly go then - she was still walking, looking at me and drinking water. But she was also extremely sick and was suffering, constantly pooping bloody and soft stool and not having appetite at all.. So last Wednesday, I brought her home and gave her medications and extra supplements, all forced fed to her. She was even weaker than the day before..
The painful decision..
When I put her on the floor (lined with paper/cloth) and tried to sleep myself, I almost had a breakdown looking and thinking of what’s happening to her.. and also what I was going through myself.. and then I knew I just needed to let her go.. I have tried all that I could but her condition would not improve.. and it’s really selfish to drag her on with strong medication that would only make her suffer. The truth was, she could have already died if not for that 3 blood transfusion. Let what Dr Vijay said, she didn’t care anymore if she was alive or dead..
I cried the whole night but I knew I had to make that decision. Jelly didn’t poop so much compared to the night before but finally she walked slowly and slept in the bathroom in the morning.. i had to carry her.. and mom, dad and I brought her to Dr Vijay to be put to sleep. That morning, she was really weak but she looked sorrowful yet peaceful at the same time. I think she knew her time was up.. She walked outside to poop blood as if not wanting to dirty our place.
When we put her on the table but on a `bed’ that I bought her, she was conscious but resigned.. we took photos with her for the final time. I want to be assured that the death is not painful and Dr had said it would be most painless and peaceful compared to dying of her illness. And I didn’t know it was so quick as well. Within 3 seconds of injecting, she was gone.. and most amazingly, she didn’t twitch a bit like Dr had warned. It was like just drifting into sleep and I didn’t even know as I was holding her head..
So Jelly was gone, in seconds.. the body still warm, looking like she slept. Just that we know, she would never wake up again…
The ashes in an urn was returned to us 24 hours after she passed on. It was like a bad nightmare and sometimes I hoped I could wake up and see my dear fluffy Jelly still around.. But it was not meant to be.
I grieved and cried a lot on Thursday when she went.. But because I had been mentally prepared and had already cried so much since she was hospitalised, I think I had come to terms of her death. I miss her a lot, but I don’t need to cry anymore. I know she’s in a better place now. It’s really a pity she could spend a few more healthy years with us, it’s such a pity that she contacted this dreaded diseases. And till now, I still blame myself for not being well informed, or the local vet who didn’t ask me to take her for a thorough blood test and tell me how bad and serious tick fever can be.
It’s as if Jelly has become the sacrifice. Because her death has woken up to be a more vigilent and responsible pet owner. I still have Jojo and Jam to take care of and the last thing I want is for them to suffer like Jelly in a horrible disease/illness. I’m glad I know Dr Vijay now and he’s very knowledgeable. If only I knew him earlier.. but no point to go `if only’ anymore. Jelly unfortunately has gone and that’s a fact.. So now, I know I should focus on the two Js…
Jelly, if only you knew how much you’re loved. But I know you know.. and I know you were sad not because you were sick but because you knew you were going to leave your beloved family…
Rest in peace. My darling girl..I know you already had
It’s now almost a month later. The tears had dried but never the memories…
Happy Birthday, Jelly! Thanks for the joy and happiness you brought us. We will always love you and remember you.. forever.