Friday, June 24, 2011

Goodnight, my friend.

I don't think I've mentioned my maternal grandfather in this blog.  He was, and still is even though he is now gone, one of the most loved, respected and utterly adored individuals from my life.  We were very much alike in personality, but his was just better in every way.  Nevertheless, he understood me, always, even when no one else even tried to pretend to.

I must have been five or six when we had the conversation that has been running through  my mind all day.  I remember his mannerisms, voice and gentle  pat on the back as he said to me,  "Animals are better than people any day of the week.  People judge you, sometimes unfairly and harshly, we all do it.  Your dog, however, will always be happy to see you.  They don't care if you've done or said something awful, if you got a bad haircut and can't make it lay flat, or if you're just hard to be around.  They love you.  No one can give you what a dog can. It's a valuable thing to understand, never be without a dog in your life.  They will give you more than you could ever imagine."  He was right, which is not surprising, as he was right about almost everything he ever said.

I grew up with dogs and have really never been without one in the home.  Today is the day that changes that.  I lost my dearest friend Zeus last June, it left a horrible gaping hole in my heart.  My Chloe remained, but she was already in the twilight of her life.  I adopted her six years ago as a senior, she was nine, so I obviously knew what I was signing up for.  Over the past two years or so she has acquired a plethora of health issues… heart murmur, Cushing's disease, dementia, she is almost blind, cannot hear much at all and lost most of her hair.   Nevertheless, she has been relatively happy and comfortable… content to sleep and eat and go outside to let the wind blow in her face and walk a bit.

I was advised last month that it was probably time to euthanize.  Still somewhat traumatized from the bad experience last summer, I've put it off, justifying my selfish decisions when she had a particularly good day.  I've been caring for senior dogs for so long that I also somewhat forgot what active, healthy and happy dogs really act like, but I was reminded of it when I had my mother's dog visit for the past week.  The comparison was so startling that it really threw everything into perspective.  Dogs live in the moment, my dog was just reluctantly existing at best.   How blind I've been!  This realization came at the same time that Chloe's health took a turn for the worse in the past 48 hours, and I could no longer in good conscience put off the inevitable.

I feel selfish, guilty and stupid.  I feel terrible for every time I've allowed myself to be frustrated with the ever increasing amount of work her conditions have required in the past year.   I haven't wanted to let go, but had to ignore her poor quality of life to do it.  Even yesterday when I called to make the appointment, I chose a later time today,  thinking that I could devote my day giving her attention and spending my time with her for just a bit longer.  The reason I'm writing now instead of doing that is because she does not want interaction.  She is uncomfortable being held and turns her back to me in her bed and just wants to sleep.  Now I sit, watch the clock and wait as my stomach twists in grief and my chest feels like I have a load of bricks on it.  The moments tick by so slowly that it's making me slightly crazy.

I'm sad and don't know what to do with it, so here I am, purging some of it from my head and heart.  I will always be grateful that she has been a part of my life and am still trying to work out exactly how to let her go.  She has given me far more than I gave her, in retrospect.  I know when I come home tonight without her, there is no more guarantee that anyone will be happy to see me when I walk through the door.  She has loved me every day, and that is a huge feat, because any person will tell you that I make that pretty hard to do sometimes.  All I can do now is hold her when the time comes and say 'thank you', while I try to remember that the last gift of love I can give her is to let her leave us with a modicum of dignity and peace.

She has been my friend, and it's only appropriate to pay homage to someone so good and loyal when the time comes.  So to my Chloe, sleep peacefully.  I love you so much.  I will miss you every day.


  1. Yes, there is no justice. I often think of their value and yet, how short their lives are. I'm really sorry to hear of you losing her.

  2. Thank you so much, my dear.

  3. Thank you for writing this, it is beautiful.

  4. It's refreshing to see somebody on the internet praise dogs instead of cats, for once.

  5. I have a cat and love her for the creature she is. I quickly learned, however, that the lack of a canine in my home was simply unacceptable. No animal meets my particular needs quite like a dog.