Kayla RIP

9th May, 2021. Have not been in any condition to write this earlier.

And so grief has descended upon us once more as we mourn the loss of our 20 month old German Shepherd Kayla. In January 2021 Kayla started ever more intensive scratching to the point that she started to have small lacerations in her ears and bald spots on the outer ears. She also nibbled on her legs, paws and body. The first thought was that she had caught scabies as there is an abundance of foxes hereabouts. She was treated for this, but the itching continued unabated. Apparently it is possible for the scabies parasites to have been successfully dealt with, but the inflammation they cause can linger. Kayla therefore underwent treatment in the form of a 2 week course of anti-inflammatory medication. To no avail. Finally only one option remained, and our vet suspected a condition known as Atopy. Apparently diagnosis of this condition requires a blood sample to be taken and analysis can determine the level of allergy and identify the main cause. As concerns the level rating, grade one is the mildest and grade five can be equated to being hyper allergic. The sample was duly taken and when the result came back we felt as if the ground under our feet had caved in. Kayla was allergic to mites, grade five. Had she been allergic to just about anything else, adjustments could have been made to reduce her exposure, but mites are just about everywhere. Kayla was given an injection that would reduce the itching, but the effect would wear off in about 4 to 6 weeks and the effect of repeat injections would reduce as her condition escalated which is the normal progression of this condition. Our vet was very supportive but told us that the available treatments were very expensive and perhaps more to the point, seldom very successful causing the animal to suffer to certain degree. His advice was to give her a good period whilst the effects of this injection lasted but as soon as the symptoms returned, let her be put down. The temporary reprieve the injection afforded gave us time to sort out things with the insurance company and provide Kayla with a last few weeks during which we could lavish her with love, affection and activities that she enjoyed. Typically neither the kennels “latent health issue insurance” (which covers undiagnosed health issues up to an age of 3 years) or our insurance covered allergies or costs for medicines, only vet fees!

 

Doing all we could to remain in a normal state of mind during this black period was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. The black cloud that represented our rapidly approaching loss was always hovering there in the background. In her last two weeks, the irritation slowly mounted, and she responded with ever more intensive scratching and it even began to affect her mental state. At home she was otherwise fine and loving as ever but out in all other environments she became less and less self-confident and her automatic reaction was to keep all other beings at bay by intensive barking and aggressive looking behaviour. The final straw consisted of a morning where she scratched herself for a period of 20 minutes without let up and later the same day when we visited a lumber yard she practically went berserk in the car as we entered the yard because there were strangers and cars around us. On the way home from this I happened to see that our vet was in his office and dropped in to let him know of these developments. His opinion was that she had now come to the end of the road and her state would only worsen both mentally and physically.

During the intervening time between having been diagnosed and while she was in relatively good shape, a vain hope began to creep in on us. Hope that things were perhaps not quite so bad as had been described and so the threat the situation posed was more pushed back into the background. Perhaps this is what is known as denial. Seeing how she then progressively worsened again brought in the stark realisation that we were going to have to let this loving companion go to eternity. She was euthanized at the vets on Thursday afternoon May 6th, 2021 at about 16:00. Travelling home from the vets after the foul deed was done, neither of us were able to face going directly home and needed to feel the freedom that a large open place affords. We therefore took a detour out to a remote place in the forest where there is a large clearing with wide open space and not a sign of civilisation. I had the exact same feeling when Akko was put down and can only describe it as a claustrophobic, closed in feeling that demanded a short period of time out in a wide open place where the views stretch for miles. Finally, however, cold winds sent us shivering back to our vehicle and we reluctantly returned to our cold, dead and desolate home.

We collected Kayla when she was 8 weeks of age on October 7th, 2019. I was already retired and thus at home all the time with her. As the first puppy period ended so came the Covid19 pandemic and both of us were at home permanently from March 2020 with the exception of weekly excursions to town to collect groceries and other essentials. Kayla always came with us. From her arriving at our household until her premature death, we were only separated about three or four times and then only for a couple of hours at the most. Being in such close proximity for so long forged strong bonds and as Kayla often sought contact and would, had she been small enough, gladly have sat on our laps for hours being cuddled, made her the most demonstratively affectionate dog we have had. Despite her apparent lack of self confidence in strange surroundings, and a few other quirks, she still commanded a massive place in our hearts. This became especially true after we lost her predecessor and mentor Akko to old age November 30th, 2020 making her the only dog in the household. Kayla quickly adapted to our routines and fit in beautifully.

For the time being the house is empty and quiet. All the small daily routines associated with having a dog in the house have at one stroke been eliminated leaving us lost and bereft. It is like being in some kind of vacuum. The sense of loss is immense and trivial things like getting up from the TV sofa and stepping carefully over where she used to lay only to realise that the spot is empty or seeing one of her toys under a sofa are things that hit us particularly hard. Obviously this profound sadness and sense of loss will slowly abate and diminish with time, however, even when our next puppy arrives (18th June 2021) Kayla will still retain, as all her predecessors have done, a permanent and large place in our hearts and minds till we ourselves join them in the blackness of eternity.