Eight years ago next month, my dog Happy had a severe seizure. She was 12 ½ years old and had heart problems. Until then, they had been well controlled with medication. She had an occasional seizure, but they were usually very mild and she was able to shake them off quickly.
This seizure happened about 4:30 in the morning and was unlike any others. She had difficulty recovering from it and seemed to be extremely disoriented. I held her until about 7 then got dressed and immediately drove her to the vet. We were there when he opened and he saw us immediately.
He said we could bring her out of it with medication and keep her comfortable, but she would have more seizures and they would be worse each time. He said she would suffer. The decision was obvious and by 11 she was gone.
I cried all the way home and frequently for the next few weeks afterwards. It was quick and done. I didn’t have time to think about it or prepare. All the pain came after the event.
With Rosie, I learned in September that she had bladder cancer and would die within 3 to 6 months. There was time to plan, prepare and pre-mourn. Then at the beginning of November we discovered the lymphoma and the time was shortened dramatically.
When it became obvious it was time to let Rosie go I was prepared. It’s not that I wanted to let her go, but I had come to terms with the inevitability of her death and didn’t want her to suffer. On that Thursday morning leaving for work I knew it was time and she was ready. When I got home, she wagged her tail at me for the first time in several days. I scooped her up and headed straight for the vet before I changed my mind. She rode on my lap and it was obvious she was uncomfortable from the cancer. I cried all the way.
The receptionist knew why we were there the minute she saw us and immediately put us into an empty exam room. The vet walked in seconds later and we discussed the procedure. First, what to do with her afterwards – cremation and a nice blue urn for my mantle.
All the paperwork was signed and he explained there would be two shots. The first would calm her down and relax her and the second would put her down. He gave her the first shot and said it would take about 5 minutes then left.
Since I walked out my door at home, Rosie had been in my arms. I held her, talked to her and cried. It was the right thing to do, but it was unbearably painful. By the time the vet returned she was a lump in my arms. We put her on a big fluffy towel on the table and I held her head, the tech held her body and the vet administered the final shot. It was over within a minute. They left and I stayed with her for a few minutes. As I left the receptionist told me how sorry she was and not to worry about paying right then because they would bill me.
So, Happy went quickly and unexpectedly. Rosie went slowly with plenty of notice. Which way was worst? When Rosie was dying over the last few months, I thought that was the worst, but it’s been a lot easier to move ahead since she died than it was when Happy did. It took weeks to find peace when Happy died, but I felt a sense of peace as soon as Rosie died. Pre-mourning versus mourning. Both hurt like hell and in the end, the result is the same. But they are different.
I cried for weeks after Happy died, but have only been teary-eyed intermittently since Rosie – until this Saturday when I received a sympathy card from the vet’s office. Everyone there – including the 4 vets – not only signed it they also each wrote a note. After reading that yesterday I cried like a baby.
I haven’t been able to write for days and decided not to force myself. Like with Rosie, I figured I would know when it was time. I've kept busy cleaning and reorganizing the house and taking extra good care of Belle who still can't quite figure out where Rosie is.
Today it's time to move on. Today I can write.