Yesterday was a rough day. It started out all good but something caught my eye as I was doing assessments at my teacher table. I look over at our pet tarantula, Princess, and see her moving in a strange way.
With each step, her legs twitch and her little body wobbles. She is moving really slowly (which is totally her normal roll) but I feel nervousness in my gut. Something feels really wrong.
I start frantically searching the Googles to see if this is normal (no.) and if it means something is wrong (yes.) and can I fix it? (maybe but probably not.)
The only thing I can come up with in my search is chronic dehydration or dyskinetic syndrome. One of these may be cured, the other is certain death that is possibly long and torturous. My eyes tear up as I think of her--or any animal--in pain. Her twitching legs trigger that feeling of watching my sweet Brownie Bear have seizures and convulsions before we had to put him down.
Then I see her wobble to her water bowl. "That's good, Princess. Get some water girl," I whisper to myself. She mounts the water bowl, tries to stand, then topples over the side of the bowl like she has no more strength to hold on to life. She is now pinned against the side of her habitat and her stone bowl. I chicken out as I try to use a long stick to move the bowl away to give her room.
It is a truly horrendous thing to watch such a powerful or fierce animal become so fragile in 24 hours. I start to cry silently and ask my students to leave me alone for just a moment to compose myself. They don't. Several kids keep at it--touching, talking, asking, telling--and in my pain, I turn around and demand them to leave me alone. Just.one.moment.please.
That was when the dam broke. I cried so hard and so suddenly that it startled my kids. Honestly, it startled me. Something of the combination of caring for Princess for 10 years and thinking of her in pain and the internet telling me to drop a brick on her to end her suffering and my sweet Brownie dog and my grandma being in the hospital and and and...
It was just too much. I had to leave my room and bawl in the elementary school hallway. I got my across-the-hall teacher friend to come look and tell me it would be all right (it won't.) She watched my class while I found my composure somewhere between the bewildered kids and the stark, blue restroom down the hall. My face was so red and blotchy that it looked like I had run a marathon and simultaneously lost a boxing match. Somehow I managed to get words out to tell my kids everything would be all right but that our class pet was sick.
I followed the instructions to create a spider ICU and got my brave teacher friend (thanks, Ms. Smith!) to pick her up and lay her in her hydration chamber. She has very few movements left so here goes nothing.
We checked back on her after school and it was suggested to flip the spider over and use a dropper to load drops of water directly into her mouth. So a crowd of teachers who know and love Princess are standing there over a tarantula with a pipet of water, dripping hope into her mouth. The spider's leg twitches and it seems that the water may do her some good. Or maybe we are just seeing things. For one second, I think it could all be ok. We joke that we will come in tomorrow and find her dancing around with a top hat, thanking us for the personalized pamper sesh (she won't.)
I pray silently that she would pass away on her own in the night or recover completely, as I don't think I can watch another second of her suffering.
When I arrived this morning, I found her unresponsive and in the spider 'death curl'. But her abdomen wasn't deflated so I was momentarily worried that I would make a mistake and think she was dead when she was not (like I did before). But you could tell that the life was gone. I was sad to have lost something I looked after for a decade, but thankful she was not going to endure more pain. I guess it doesn't matter if it is a dog or a parakeet, a large animal or small...losing a pet is hard. Even if it is a tarantula you hated when you were first forced to take her in.
So, I guess for today's post: