How do I begin to write about losing our dog, Kona, when my heart feels like it has been ripped out of me and I'm so sad that sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe. On the inside, I am wailing. On the outside, I am trying to hold myself together. And as a writer, it's cathartic for me to write about losing her.

I mentioned Kona's tummy issues in a post last month. We began working with our vet to eliminate possible causes, trying medications, diet changes, tests and finally believing we had our answer and still needed a specific diagnosis in order to choose the right medication to manage what we believed was IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease--a manageable illness) we took her to an IMS (internal medical specialist) vet, Dr. Geist for a consultation and endoscopy on Monday morning.

That afternoon, when we returned to pick her up and review the procedure results with him, we learned that our sweet and very sick Kona did not have IBD. Instead, Dr. Geist told us he was certain that she had stomach cancer and the confirming biopsy results would be in by Wednesday or Thursday. The news devastated us and changed our focus.

Kona had cancer.

It made sense now why she would not eat anything and would clamp her jaw shut when I tried to coax her meds down her to help the nausea that consumed her. Why she vomited mucus and foam and was getting thinner by the hour. We knew we could not make her go through another day living like this, so Tuesday night we made the agonizing decision to stop her suffering and let her go.

On Wednesday, we spent time with her, laying on the floor next to her, loving her, talking to her. When we took her in late that afternoon, Dr. Geist confirmed he had the biopsy results and that she indeed did have cancer was the worst possible kind. Carcinoma. It was very bad. As our hearts were breaking, he assured us that we were making the right decision and that we were making it at the right time.

We sat down on the floor together with her and as she took her last breaths and slipped away from us, we gave her rubs behind her ears and told her how much we loved her and what a good dog she was and how deeply loved she was by everyone.

We are so grateful for the kindness, compassion and good care Kona was received from Dr. Geist, Levi and the rest of the VCA staff during the brief time she was their patient.

We are struggling to get through these hard days and weeks ahead of us as we grieve and adjust to life without Kona, but we have peace that our sweet girl will live forever in our memory as the beautiful, loving, smart and funny dog that stole our hearts away as a tiny puppy when she chose us as her Mama and Daddy.

12/16/2005 - 08/22/2012

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