Sunday, November 25, 2007


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.


cyn said...

oh. thank you for sharing. it makes me so sad and i feel your pain. i remember putting our cupcake to sleep and that was 12 years ago. i still dream about her. *hugs* to you.

Ello said...

I'm so glad you can write again. It's been a tough time for you. I got teary eyed reading about the vet's office sending you the card. I'm throwing you an internet hug also.

The Anti-Wife said...

Cyn and Ello,
Thanks for the hugs!

Church Lady said...

Each loss is different. One is not easier than the other.
One day you'll be able to mourn her presence, but still be happy with life overall. You'll be there when you're ready.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Anti-Wife,

I'm so glad you can write again, we miss you when you're away.

People always say they'd like to go fast, but I think a longer goodbye makes the grieving process easier for those of us left behind. At least there's time to say goodbye and there's no regret over not getting in that last, 'I love you'. It's never easy, but those last moments can be a wonderful balm to help you through.

Glad you're feeling better and always good to see you.

Mary Witzl said...

Sadly, Church Lady is right: losses don't really get easier, and each one brings its own individual pain. But I still can't imagine being without pets.

To this day I can cry over the last dog I loved -- really loved. I still think that dog loved me more than just about any other human being ever has. And all she wanted in return was the odd belly-rub and regular grub.
Oh God, I've done it again. Sorry.

And I got teary reading about the vet's card too, but I think that is a lovely gesture. Sometimes you need a really good, long weeping session. Glad to know you're back in the blogging world.

Erica Orloff said...

Oh, I am so sorry to read this.

I lost my Honi dog five years ago (seizure disorder) and I STILL cry thinking of her. I've buried cats and birds, and each loss is different. Grief has its own unique cycle.

Feel better . . . when it's time.


The Anti-Wife said...

Every day gets better and I'm trying to keep moving. It really helps.

I personally want to go fast. But I would like to have some warning so I can have my funeral before I die. I really want to be there to hear what people say about me.

The Anti-Wife said...

I thought I was going great until I saw that card, then I went through another box of kleenex.

The good in this is that they touched our lives in such a positive way that we still feel such love and attachment to them.

Maya Reynolds said...

AW: This post was a wonderful tribute to your well-loved animals.

I read this with interest because I had the same experience, but backwards.

The first animal I had to put down was my cat Shibumi (kidney failure), and I had several weeks to prepare. The only way I got through it was knowing I was taking the right (and the unselfish) path.

When my border collie Lucy needed to be put to sleep, it happened within 24 hours. And--like your second experience--I recovered much more quickly.

Now I'm wondering if it's the FIRST time that is the hardest rather than the way it happens.

No matter the answer, my heart is with you. Your love can be read in every word of your posts on your beloved companions.

God bless and protect you.