2017 Has been a hard year for dogs in my family. Putting your pet down is a agonizing decision to make, when you know deep down inside, it is your pet’s time to meet their maker.
For me, it started in October 2016 when we learned our beloved 14 year old Australian Shepard, Cocoa, was suffering from a brain tumor. Already deaf with most of her eye sight gone, we weren’t too surprised when other health issues started to appear. We see-sawed back and forth about the “right” time to put her down, then second guessed every decision. Do we wait till we see signs of her being in pain? What about her quality of life? Is our decision based on what’s best for her or what WE want?
We finally decided to enjoy her company until we saw a noticeable decline. That presented it’s self in June of this year. Now at 15 1/2, with multiple body functions failing, we decided it was her time. Son Tender Heart accompanied my husband and I to the vet. Son Hard Worker said his good-byes that morning before he left for work. Son Giver Man was offered the opportunity to attend but declined, later to disclose that it would be too painful for him. Little did he know, his time was coming.
The tears welled up in our eyes well before our 4:00 PM appointment time. We tried to sit and pet Cocoa but she had reached a point of no longer wanting to be touched.
The Vet staff was wonderfully compassionate, telling us we could stay as long as we needed to, and we did. After the lethal injection, we all just cried, loved on Cocoa, and cried; related “remember when…….” stories, then cried some more. The tears came often the first week after. I rolled up Cocoa’s 15 year old collar and placed it in our bay window along with family photos. We all mourn our pets in different ways. What was helpful for me, was occasionally going over to her collar and inhaling her deep scent that was still on her collar. I’m not ashamed to admit that as odd as it might sound. Son Tender Heart would talk about how strange it was that a dog…that was no longer there…still controlled our thinking and actions. Like closing a gate when there was no longer a dog to scoot out, or slowly putting your feet down off a stool, so you wouldn’t step on a sprawled out sleeping dog….that was no longer around.
Five days after our day at the vet, Daughter Deep Faith called to tell us they were putting down their 15 year old beagle. Precious, a rescue beagle plagued with heart problems requiring years of medication, was now enduring close to 100 seizures a day as well as loss of basic body functions. They had talked openly about this time with their children. Daughter Deep Faith slept with Precious’s bed close to hers, and would also inhale the scents of their beloved dog. Their son would relay lots of “remember when” stories, mostly funny ones that would make him laugh. We all grieve in different ways.
Two weeks ago, Son Giver Man went through the same experience with his 8 1/2 year old Labrador/pit bull mix, Shilo. This dog could be mauled by any child without worries but had developed a large cancerous tumor on her liver. She had lost significant weight, and has now stopped eating. Son Giver man has not put a pet down before, but knows it is time. Like his sister, the whole family talks openly about this difficult time.
In 4 months, my family has put down 3 dogs. How are we coping? Daughter Deep Faith says it has gotten easier everyday, but plans to hold off on a purchase of another dog for awhile. Son Giver Man says he still wells up when he thinks about Shilo so tries not to dwell on it, keeping his mind focused on other things.
As for me, I’m content to not have a dog for awhile. For the past year and a half, I was the primary caregiver for a very sick dog which took a tremendous amount of my time. I’m enjoying the freedom to visit family or go anywhere for that matter, without the work and worry of scheduling people to take care of the dog while I am gone.
As a footnote, one week after we put Cocoa down, I attended a dog show. I had not been to one before, and was still having some guilt tugging at my heart. As I watched the Australian Shepards go through their jumping routines, it occurred to me that I had not seen Cocoa that active or having that much fun in many years. She had become a small fraction of what she use to be. I know now, that we made the right decision. I’m sure Cocoa, Precious and Shilo are all having a great time at some great dog park in the heavens.