My final hours with Bama: Part 1

Posted on August 4, 2011


Wednesday, August 3, 5 a.m.

I woke up around 2 and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up at 3 a.m. and made coffee. Bama had started to stir a bit. I could tell she was uncomfortable. I sat by her side, talked with her, stroked her head. A few times, she put her head in my lap. Bumble slept nearby.

I gave Bama four sedative tablets at 5:30 a.m., August 3. They were hidden in some baked fish, which I made especially for her that morning. She ate willingly and looked at me like she was hungry for more.

My Birmingham vet, Dr. Mike Hoke, who had provided the sedative had said to give her six tablets, one hour before needed. He said four was the recommended dose to sedate a dog her size. Since I’d given her one the night before, I was afraid at first, and gave her only four, an hour and half before I’d asked friends to stop by to help load her into my car. After she took these four, I did a quick Google search and read two different vet recommendations that said dogs sedated with this drug can still snap to alertness, even briefly, if they are startled or something hurts them. In light of Bama’s size and the pain she exhibited when we tried to move her on Tuesday, I gave her more fish and another sedative at 5:45 a.m.

I sat by her and stroked her head and anticipated many what-ifs about the timing and approach to getting her moved onto a rug and into the car. When the sedatives seemed to start working, I took a break to shower and get prepared to leave as soon as we had her loaded into my car.


Late Monday afternoon, Aug 1. This is when I knew Bama probably wouldn't get up again. Bumble sat with her for a long time.

At 6:15 a.m., I gave Bama a dose of Tramadol that had been prescribed to her some years ago when she had a bone stuck in the roof of her mouth. I’d discussed this with Dr. Hoke previously to make sure it wouldn’t cause any major problems if given with the sedative. I also did a quick search on the internet and found that Tramadol was OK with normal doses of the sedative I was giving. Bama was less enthusiastic about the taste of the pain tablet but she eventually ate it all, with the help of a bit of olive oil mixed in with more baked fish. I wanted to make sure today’s effort was successful so she wouldn’t suffer any longer.


Tuesday morning, August 2, before our futile first attempt to get Bama into my car.

Bumble was watching all of this unfold. She had spent the night sleeping in Bama’s crate, inches away from Bama. As the sky began to lighten with the sunrise, Bumble wanted to go outside. I wouldn’t let her. She didn’t show her usual persistence, though, and cooperated by sitting nearby. Shortly after I gave Bama the pain medicine, Bumble disappeared. By that time, the sedatives had started to work and Bama was leaving her head down more and more but she was still pretty alert, under the circumstances.


Bumble slept in Bama's crate the night of August 2 into August 3. Bama was just inches away.

About 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 2.

At 6:45 a.m. I called my friends, Jon & Pierce, and suggested we postpone until 7:15.

I called them again at 7:10 and postponed until 7:30. I looked around for Bumble and found her on the top shelf of a covered table in my bedroom. That’s where she goes when she’s scared or wants real privacy.

At 7:20 a.m., I gave Bama the sixth sedative tablet–the number Dr. Hoke had prescribed in the first place. I didn’t think Bama was sufficiently “out” yet and didn’t want to delay much longer.


Wednesday, August 3, 7:18 a.m.: The last photo I took of Bama alive. The areas of her head, back and hip where she had skin biopsies last week are visible. At this point, the sedatives have started to kick in.

During the hour from 7:30 to 8:30, I received several tweets, messages and emails from friends expressing their condolences. At one point, I got all choked up about the kindness I was experiencing from so many, including a few “strangers” who’d learned that Bama was about to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.

At 8:40 a.m.  we started the process. Bama was pretty out by this point but still able to respond. To get her to raise her head enough to put a muzzle on, I placed the last bit of baked fish in front of her nose. She raised her head just as I expected and I slipped the muzzle on her. It was a rather large, so my plan included wrapping a towel around her head briefly and covering it with a pillow case for the few seconds we’d need to slide her onto the rug. She’d never bitten anyone but in light of her earlier discomfort, I didn’t want to take a chance.

The strategy went off without a hitch. We slid her onto the rug, rolled the rug around her like a sling and had her in the back of my Explorer within seconds. We removed the pillow case and towel immediately. Her head was covered for less than 15 seconds. She lay quietly in the back, mostly oblivious. Jon and Pierce gave me a hug; I thanked them again. I started the engine to get the AC cooling and ran inside to change clothes, grab my purse and phone and hit the road.

Bama and I were traveling to Tuscumbia to allow Dr. Davis at the Tennessee Valley Animal Clinic to administer the shot. I would bury Bama on my family’s farm.

My final hours with Bama: The End (coming)

Healthier Days: At the beach in 2009

I wrote this post on Thursday afternoon, August 4, 3:30 p.m.

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