I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I didn’t have my black furry alarm clock insisting that I do. My mind kept dwelling on the decision to end her life. I knew it was the right thing to do but the other side of me kept screaming, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it. I kept reliving it over and over.
Some part of me feels guilty that I didn’t grieve losing my grandparents this hard. How can a dog can put a vise on your heart that when gone, there is a big crack, a chasm? I feel like I am under a heavy blanket and it is making it hard just to push through the air. I feel like a zombie with nowhere to go. I have a dear, supportive boyfriend. But I am dog less. I am sad.
I didn’t want to go down the dog road after I lost my last dog. I went 8 years and thought I was safe. Then I dated a guy and at some point realized I was dating him because of his dogs. I kept his dogs, Baby, a chow and LD, a lab/ retriever mix and broke up with him.
I was never any good about training my dogs, but the ex-boyfriend had put Baby and LD through boot camp. They were the perfect dogs. No jumping on you or even sniffing. They never thought about getting on the furniture or bed. They were interested in guests but not that much. They were the type of dogs that operated under my mother’s kid raising motto “Be seen and not heard”. Or in the case of Baby and LD, if you were interested in them fine, but if not then that was ok too.
I went from traveling constantly to not wanting to leave because of those two dogs. I hired a housekeeper/dog keeper that came every day, I took them everywhere. Weekends were outings to dog friendly restaurants.
Baby was the blonde and always got the attention. LD was the regal one, very smart but not that affectionate. She let her dog sister take care of hogging all the attention. Baby wasn’t the brightest but had a face that caused people to explain, “She looks just like a teddy bear.” Baby made it to age 15. I knew I waited too long to make the Decision. Her quality of life was terrible and I swore I wouldn’t do that to LD. LD mourned Baby’s absence but I became obsessed with making her final years the best. She would get to be the only child. So at age 14 she went places every month. Many times it was to the small west Texas town of Marfa. She was a Marfan dog and Marfans love their dogs.
LD turned 15 then 16 then 17. Her Achilles heel was her stomach. The challenge was getting her to eat. I always swore I wouldn’t get old and have the kitchen counter covered in medicine and pill bottles. But this is exactly what happened except the pill bottles were for LD, not me. I fed LD with a spoon. Just like a contrary kid, I would sit on the floor with her and open dog food cans until I found one she would eat.
If she scratched or licked any body part, I was on it. I was always on alert for any issue. Once I lifted up her tail in a Petsmart to check and caught the clerk giving me a suspicious eye.
When LD turned 17, it was suggested that it was time to let her eat what she wanted, including smoking a cigarette. She passed on the cigarette. I cooked her scrambled eggs and made special meals; but it was just too much for her stomach. She collapsed. I rushed her to the vet and she spent the week on an IV. Each day at five I would pick her up and take her home and return her the next morning.
I knew I waited too long to make the decision on Baby. I wanted the vet to tell me what to do. But she wouldn’t and miraculously LD got better, and this is when my magical thinking began. LD would always be there. LD stood for Lucky Dog so surely she was invincible. She would always be there to take for walks and for me to coax her to eat. I could always rush home to check on her as the first thing I did. I would always know she was there, because she would be.
I think LD hung on and continued to smile because she knew about my magical thinking. She had a quality of life-even if her walks were short and sometimes was just sniffing outside the front door. She made it each day with a dog smile until she just ran out of gas one Thursday night.
I just knew the IV could pump her back up. So the next morning I told the vet that is what she needed. The vet looked me in the eye and said, “You shouldn’t feel guilty about putting her down, you have done a wonderful job of keeping her alive.” Irritated I responded, “You don’t understand. She had a smile on her face two days ago and went for a walk.” But the vet showed me her eyes weren’t responding and that she was in pain. She said, “If it was what was best for LD, I would make the Decision. If I wanted to do what I wanted, then do the IV.”
I knew in my heart what needed to be done. But it was the hardest thing I have done. I didn’t want to be responsible. I wanted to be a child and insist on what I wanted, which was my beloved dog LD. I wanted my dog and I wanted her forever. But I took a deep breath, feeling my heart split in two and said, ok do what is best for LD.
The house is filled with dog food, dog treats, dog medicines, leashes, several dog beds, everything everywhere a dog reminder. I have to let her go because she wouldn’t want me to be sad. But I am…..
In Loving Memory of Sweet LD
June 21, 2013