Her Name Was Ami, and I Loved Her So

Her name was Ami (Amy); she was an Alaskan Malamute, and I loved her so. I still do and always will.

Ami came into my life a little over 11 years ago when she was 10 weeks old. About this time last year, Ami was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was devastated. The veterinarian told us that though lymphoma was not curable, it is the most treatable form of cancer, but she could not promise more than about six months; 12 to 18 months was possible. At some point, the lymphoma would come back with a vengeance, and Ami would begin to wither away. In addition to six to 18 extra months that I would have her, the only other good news was that lymphoma is painless. The worst news was that I would have to eventually make the decision to put her to sleep. All in all, there really was no decision as to whether we would try chemotherapy; of course we would, and we did.

Ami responded very well to the treatments, and within a few weeks, Ami’s lymphoma went into remission. Her treatments went on for several months, and though she experienced some nausea and diarrhea, with the help of other medicines, this was minimal. Otherwise, Ami seemed healthy and in good spirits. She seemed normal, but we knew the real story and dreaded what we knew would come.

Sometime around March of this year, Ami’s treatments were over, but in a very short six weeks, I once again felt the swollen lymph nodes. The vet confirmed the return of the lymphoma and recommended another round of chemo. Again Ami responded well, and again the lymphoma quickly went into remission. The treatment continued for several more months with the same results as before. When I wondered why we could not just continue the treatments indefinitely, the vet said that Ami’s body would not be able to stand the medicine indefinitely and that the lymphoma would eventually return anyway. I continued to live with the fact that I would eventually have to put her to sleep, and I dreaded it throughout every day.

About six or eight weeks ago, the vet said we should change the chemo drug, as the one she was using would weaken Ami’s heart and she could suffer heart failure. The alternative drug was better and would not have this effect. This was a bit of a surprise to me, as the vet had not told us this before. I wondered why we hadn’t started with the better drug. Though I never really asked that question and the vet never volunteered that information, I presume it was because the other drug was much more expensive. That didn’t matter; of course we would switch. Again Ami responded well, and the treatments continued.

I left for work on the morning of October 29, thirteen days ago. In the evening, I returned home with no thought that anything was wrong. My wife met me in the yard crying. I thought of all the things that could be wrong, but not a single thought of Ami, as I thought she would live until I made the decision to put her to sleep. An hour or two before I got home from work on the 29th, Ami probably suffered a stroke, and it was over. Only a day or two before, I thought quietly to myself that I would rather Ami go naturally and that I could be relieved of the burden of putting her to sleep. Perhaps the way she died was Ami’s final gift to me or perhaps a gift from God so that I would not have to suffer the agony of an inevitable decision.

I don’t think I’ve ever loved a dog more than Ami. Ami was my constant companion, and I took her everywhere that I was allowed to take her. Though she was a typical Malamute in that she was never a lap dog and never liked a lot of petting and hugging, she was never far from me, always within a few feet.

With a very few brief periods, I’ve had a dog all my life, but I don’t think I’ll have another; at least that is the way I feel right now. Ami was more than a dog to me; she was my love, and I will miss her the rest of my life. If this seems silly to anyone, then they really don’t understand and have never experienced the great bond and love between one of God’s greatest gifts and mankind.

Jerry from VA