Today, her post was very sad. It made me cry.
She talked about the loss of her dog Audrey; and as these things do, it brought back one of the hardest times of my life; when I had to put my 12-year-old companion and best friend Eddie to sleep. And August is also the anniversary of this period. It will be 2 years. It was when the cancer in his nasal passage and brain had finally made him so miserable, that I could no longer bear to watch him suffer so. That was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my life.
I was lucky enough to have my friends at Linwood Animal Clinic. I used to work there, and they were so kind. They gave us the surgery room to ourselves. Dr. Cain sedated him first; and for the first time in months, he relaxed and was soft and yielding like he used to be instead of tense with pain. When she gave him the injection, he went so quickly. I just laid my head on him and wept and wept and wept. It was so very, very sad. I couldn't imagine what my world would be like without him. It's still empty without him sometimes. My husband and I both cried all the way home. Flower was so lonely too, even if he didn't like her very much.
I think, and I learned this working at the vet clinic and dealing directly with people on a daily basis who were making this decision, that what makes this so hard is not just that you are losing a companion who has stood by your side and never once cast a disparaging glance at you---what makes it so hard is that you have to make the decision. You have to decide that the creature you love so much has to go now. You have to decide that you will wake up the next day and they will no longer be there. You have to reconcile that the void you will feel every day from now on is something you decided.
I've dealt with death in my family before, it's horrible; but frankly, this was worse. This innocent creature that has depended on you, loved you unconditionally, this living thing that has sort of enmeshed itself into your daily life like nothing else can, is in pain; is sick, is suffering. You question yourself; "is it too soon? Could he or she have lived a bit longer on pain medication? Did I do the right thing?"
I kept Eddie on medication for a while, but in the end, he didn't recognize me sometimes. He'd stand and stare at the wall, and growl. He would pace and pace and pace. But the backbreaker for me was when he stopped sleeping in bed with us... and he would lie in his dog-bed, stiff as a board, and shudder with each breath. I was so scared I'd wake up and find him dead; and that he died alone, and in so much pain and suffering and I wasn't there for him. Or that I'd come home and find him, and all those same feelings would rush into my head.
It was so very hard. The car and the beach would bring lapses in his suffering; for short bursts, he was himself, making nose-marks on my windshield and bouncing from back seat to front with his long tail wagging. I'd get all this hope, and then he would slip back into this painful march. My husband had never endured this sort of thing, and I think he took it harder than I did. We are such saps, because we can't even cope with seeing a picture of him without getting misty-eyed.
Going through life battling depression is hard; but it was made easier, and gave me more direction when I had Eddie to focus on. We took care of eachother. He was a cantankerous old curmudgeon; but he was entirely my dog; focused 100% on me. I was true north and he was the compass. He was my shadow. I've never adored a dog as much as I loved Eddie. I probably never will again. 12 years of friendship is nothing to scoff at.
I cannot bring myself to dispose of his old Kong toy, or his red collar with jingly tags... His ashes are in an urn over the fireplace; yes, it's weird... but I look at Eddie like a lifesaver. His needing me kept me going sometimes when nothing else could. Steadfast and loving, I miss that dog every day. My friends at Linwood; unbeknownst to me, had made a little plaster-casting of his paw-print for me, and waited to deliver it to me when I'd had a couple of weeks to adjust. It was such a great gesture. What great people.
All I can say to anyone who goes through this; let your vet be your reassurance that your decision is the right one. Hold onto their memory, and make sure you get a puppy before they get too old, because the puppies absorb some of their habits and quirks, and they carry them on.
Anyway... now that I've become Debbie Downer, I'm off home. I have to go home and cuddle Flower or play with the ever-energetic and emtpy-headed Simon. I have to think of good things now.
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