I made the dreaded vet call yesterday.
Some of you may know that our dog Lady has had a chronic case of emphysema. I don’t remember how long it’s been since she’s had it. It probably came on so slowly that I didn’t recognize it at first. I thought she was just hacking on a bone, or something. This last year her sickness progressed quickly. Struggling to breathe, she’d throw up, so we had to keep her in the garage, where she choked and gagged most of the night and kept me awake. Every day we’d have some sort of pile to clean up. Some wondered why we hadn’t put her down already. I really had no answer for that until yesterday when I truly understood what it means to take another’s life into your own hands. I wanted to be sure. Really sure. That it was the right thing to do.
Our little cocker-terrier, who came into our lives eight years ago as a gift from my brother, has given our family immeasurable joy mixed with frustration as only dogs can. She has been loyal from day one, loving us, comforting us, and being our best friend. Lady used to follow me everywhere I went. Sometimes she was the annoying friend in high school that never let you out of her sight, following you even into the bathroom. Bumping into you cause she didn’t want to get too far away. Up the stairs to check on crying babies, down the stairs to lick wounded knees. Patient and kind she was always there under your feet, causing you to trip from her extreme loyalty. And she loved Dan. Had a crush on him actually. When I wasn’t looking she’d jump onto the couch and take my place next to Dan. Then she’d turn and look at me with her big brown eyes and seem to say. “Oh, did you want to sit here next to this hunky man? Well, maybe next time.”
This last week she took a serious turn for the worse. I could hear the water in her lungs slush
about as she tried to breathe. Sunday, Dan found her laying out in the grass in a place she rarely went. When he called for her she did not come, something highly unusual for her as she loved Dan almost as much as I do. He brought out her bowl of water and she took a few drinks before lying flat out on the grass, struggling for air. It was time. It didn’t seem right to let her suffer any longer. I kept my head up, my lip firm as I made the appointment. I was even fine as I brushed her beautiful auburn mane one last time and drove her to the vet. It wasn’t even until we took her into the small examination room that it hit me like a speeding bullet smashing right into my gut. I loved this little dog. And in spite of all the pain, frustration, annoying little messes she created, I was going to miss her. The pain was fierce; the tears flowed like a leaking faucet. I bawled over this little dog that sometimes aggravated me more than my own children. Soon my daughter joined me. The vet was compassionate and gave us more time, which only made it more real and worse. We said our goodbyes.
Today the house is quiet. There is no hacking dog. No mess to clean up, no water bowl to fill. There is also no little fury friend to meet me at the door. No wagging tail, no smiling brown eyes that could rival the famous animated Lady. We will wait a while. Have a break from the work and responsibilities of an animal. I don’t know how long we will last. I don’t know how long I will last. I do know one thing. No dog will ever replace Lady. She was her own being. There will be others and we will love them too, but they will not be Lady and I guess that is okay too. One thing about it, Lady is breathing easier now, chasing heavenly squirrels and if there were such a thing, heavenly cars as well. And she will be waiting for us, tail wagging, tongue hanging. I just hope that in heaven she has a stronger bladder than she did here.
Love you little dog. RIP