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  • So this is how it happened.

    We had been going to the vet regularly since last august, to check on suspected cancer in Cocos chest. It could also be any other kind of lump. She was doing fine. The pet-onkologist was optimistic. Last Tuesday, we had a regular appointment. But she started gasping for air in the morning. Me and Coco took the bus, and she (very big dog) sat like a kid in my lap. That’s how weak she was.

    By the time we got to the animal hospital, she was suddenly an emergency case. I left her there, to be picked up in the afternoon. I know that she panics if she is left there, but she needed surgical attention: to have her lungs drained from fluid.

    I picked up Folke from preschool early. ”Folke, intstead of dinner, we are going to get a sandwich att the coffeeshop in Bandhagen and eat it on the bus, OK?” He nodded.

    The bus ride was strange for many reasons. Mostly because of the crazy lady. That sat next to us. She read from the papers out loud to me and Folke, very loud, about horrible abuse and atrocities against children. She got off at the same stop, speaking loud about eating shrimp.

    Coco was happy to see us. More than a liter of fluid was drained. I weighed her on the way out, and she was 1,3 kilograms lighter than in the morning.

    She seemed fine on the bus home. The crazy lade was there too. She sat with a black garbage bag as a tent over her head, ranting. A kid that sat next to us told us that she is always on this bus. Every day.

    Walking home, we realized Coco wasn’t ok. She had to lie down and rest. Even though we knew that she wanted nothing more than to get home. But we thought that she was going to be better, in just a few hours. It was because of the trauma, we said to each other, me and Emil.

    The next day, she was to weak to eat, and her breathing was dangerously fast. We decided that all three of us should go with her this day, that this could be her last day.

    As soon as we got to the vet she got better. Form near deth to tired but normal dog, instantly. Yes she was weak and undistinct, very unlike her, but her breathing was fine. We came very close to leaving her there for surgery. If what Coco had was just a lump, not a tumor, then surgery might help her. Open chest surgery, very risky, and with at least five days of intensive care afterwards. Even if we knew that this was the worst option for Coco, Emil and I felt deperate to save her. We knew from experience that she can’t even last a couple of hours there without her loved ones, without hurting herself. When she had her uterus inflammed and removed four years ago, the few hours of post surgical care (that was supposed to be at least until the next day) before the called us sent Coco into a state of chock of some sorts. It took weeks for her before she could stand it without constant, yes constant, physical contact after that. Still, we contacted the insurance company. They said no. In hindsight, I’m glad we were out of insurance money. They forced us to make the right decision.

    Emil and we figured that it might have been the trauma from last day that slowed the recovery. I stayed home from work the next day too, timed her breathing, to make sure it wasn’t over 20 per minute. We cuddled, and took very small walks. In the evening, it felt like everything was going to be OK. At least for now.

    Friday was worse again. Emil and I talked a lot about what we thought and believed was the matter with Coco, and decided on two things:
    1. We wanted them to try and drain her lungs once more. In august, when she last got sick, that’s what i took before it got better, so why not now?
    2. There is definitely something wrong with her stomach. And this has been going on for weeks. We thought she might have eaten something – underwear or whatnot. That would be the most common source of stomach-issues for her part. Now we believed it was somthing worse. There was also a part of her belly that the last few days had felt strange to our touch.
    I took her to the vet again, emergency procedure again, and I explained about the stomach. New x-rays were taken, this time of the abdomen. They were probably fine they said, but inconclusive. Coco was better again, so we went home, and had another day of cuddle.

    Saturday was the day we thought everything was fine. She ate, she strutted a bit whan walking, as she used to, she even tried to play. This was never her strongest side. Since she was a puppy, she only considered one thing ”play”: dead serious wrestling, involving scary growls and teeth. She was such a powerful dog, so no one could ever play with her. Folke and I was chasing other in the yard, but we had to interrupt all the time, because Coco joined in. Everything was sure going to be OK!

    Sunday, I woke up and immediately heard Coco panting. Me and Coco was back at the animal hospital. This time I knew that it was going in the wrong direction. I knew that it was over. I still made them drain the lungs, and take new x-rays. Almost no fluid this time, but an assumed metastasis in her stomach. The vet made sure that I understood that we couldn’t just keep on coming in to drain her lungs. I did. I took her home, with the faintest of hope that it would work, but more of the feeling that she was going to get one last day with the family, with her pack. The song that was on in the car became mine and Cocos song. I felt it then, and everytime I heard it since. ”Every single little second, every worthless moment, we turned them in to something big.” (”Varenda liten sekund, varenda värdelös stund, det gjorde vi till nåt stort”, Eric Gadd: Vi kommer aldrig att förlora).

    Half past one she starts breathing faster again. I am so mad that my camera has been at the office this whole week, Cocos last week! I desperatly start looking for another camera, and find an old and unrelyable one, that requiers constant change of batteries. I gather all available batteries and putt hem in my pocket, and start taking photos of Coco. Paws, elbows, ears.

    She was still too weak to eat. I gave her water from my waterbottle while she was still on the couch, so tired. Emil and I got in a disagreement about how bad shape she was in. I thought we should go back to the hospital and put her to sleep, and Emil still had hope. I took Folke to the playground, because I couldn’t stay.

    We played spaceship, ran from down to up in the slide, we lay in the big swing, on our backs, and I pointed out the aspen tree and told him about it. When in the climbing frame, Emil called. ”She is hyperventilating” he said.

    Cocos last walk out of the house was pure loyalty. She understood that we wanted her to walk, so she did. Maybe she thought we could help her. She couldn’t even get into the car by herself. Emil lifted her but so she could get up. She was once the high jumping champion of the universe.

    We tell them we need to hurry. She’s in great pain. At five thirty, we are given a room of our own at the animal hospital. It has a dog bed, and a nurse puts a fluffy blanket there. Coco does not have to be told to lie down her last time. She never gets up again. At a quarter to six, she has been given the shots, and takes her last breath.

    They leave us with her body. I never want to part with it. I Want to hold her forever, even if she can’t feel it anymore. She feels as wonderful as she has always done. We cry. We leave.

    That night held a lifetime. When the one who could comfort was the one I lost.

    We took a walk to the small forest where we walked Coco so many times before. I found a white rock on the ground, that I kept. At the playground, Folke tried to recreate all the moments of before she was dead. Play spaceship with me. Run up the slide. We laid on our backs in the big swing, and he pointed out the aspen tree. Nothing helped.

    Folke cried, and he said: ”I wanted her to have the summer. She shouldn’t have died before it was summer.”
    Emil said: ”You know what? This is the first day of summer.”
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