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Osha was abandoned by her people in early October 2015, and found herself in the pound. She had terminal cancer, which had gone untreated for a considerable time. The people who were caring for her in the pound didn't want her to spend her last few weeks in a kennel, so they appealed for an end-of-life home for her to spend her final few weeks or months with a family of her own. When I heard her story I asked if they would be happy for Osha to come and live here as part of our family to take the final steps of her journey. We welcomed Osha on 10th October 2015, expecting that she would have less than 6 months to live but determined to make every day count.
Over the following 9 months, we were privileged to get to know and become friends with the most lovely lass. Osha was happy, content, stubborn, willful, determined, demanding, naughty, loving, funny. She was also incredibly stoic, and it was this determination and stoicism that saw her live not 6 months but 8 months, and it was 8 months of fun; good food, great walks, lots of cuddles, taking up most of our bed at night, sneaking off at 2am to ransack the compost heap, stealing eggs I had "forgotten" to remove from the doorstep and throwing them around until they broke, barking at lorries, shouting at the pigs, threatening the chickens, scaring the turkeys, shaking her head "NO" when we asked her to do something she didn't want to, emptying the recycling bin all over the floor, bullying her little brother, standing at the side of the bed shouting at bedtime for no reason we could ever fathom, eating, and sleeping (with an emphasis on eating and sleeping).
The cancer was in her anal gland and mammary chain, the lumps large and angry. We removed the mammary tumour successfully, but the anal tumour had been untreated for too long, and wasn't treatable. Over the months the cancer spread - as cancer so often does - and in April we received the desperately sad news that it had reached her lungs. She was given 2 to 6 weeks of quality time left, and after that we knew that we would have to make the hardest of decisions.
Over the next two weeks, Osha started to become tired. She didn't enjoy her food as much, the anal tumour was growing rapidly and in danger of becoming necrotic, and she was starting to become restless at night as the fluid on her lungs built up and the tumours grew. We would not let her suffer, and over those two weeks we spoke with her vet a lot and knew that the window of quality life was closing and we would have to make the hardest decision of all. If we left it too long, we knew that something catastrophic would happen and she would know pain. We desperately didn't want her to know pain.
On 7th June 2015 we enjoyed a final walk with Osha, in her favourite place, a beautiful secluded place where The Wandering Osha could wander to her heart's content, completely safe. She pottered around, sniffing, drinking muddy water, face-planting in mud, and enjoyed a paddle. She came home, had her final meal of pasta (the only thing she still had an appetite for), and some Hobnobs. She dozed in the sun as we sat by her side, remembering and chatting to her about all the good times we have shared. As the sedative took effect she ate fruit chews and in one final act of Oshaness, she made sure she ate the whole bag before she started to fall asleep. Just before 5pm, on a beautiful, sunny, warm day, in her garden, tired from a wonderful walk and full of her favourite meal, and under a tent to keep her cool from the hot sun, Osha died.
Anyone who has known grief, as I'm sure most of you have, will know that you expect them to be there, to open a door and see them still there where they should be. It was the hardest decision I can imagine having to to decide that was the day Osha died, but we wouldn't let our pal suffer. I truly believe that it is our role to absorb as much of the pain as we can so that they don't have to feel it.
As Osha fell asleep, I whispered, "Osha, you know all those eggs you thought I had left by mistake and you were stealing from the doorstep? I didn't leave them there by mistake..."
Goodnight, our big girl. You are forever in our hearts. Thank you for being our friend.
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