Some days are harder than others. This day just about broke me. We said goodbye to our dog Chico today.
I think the anticipation was the worst. Knowing what was ahead, we tried to cherish the last hours. We let him sleep in our bed last night. I made bacon and gave him some this morning. He lounged in his favorite sunny spot by the back door. It was a pretty idyllic way to spend your last dog day on earth.
My husband, Mark, was supposed to meet me at home so we could go together. But a work meeting ran late, so he had to go directly to the vet. Picking Chico up and carrying him out of the house was awful. Knowing it was the last time. Knowing where we were going.
When we got to the vet’s office, I just held him close, trying to provide some sense of security for him. I was keeping it together pretty well until Mark walked in – gym towel in hand (guys never have kleenex when they need it), already crying the ugly cry. The ride over from the office, with nothing but his thoughts, was the part that got Mark.
After the vet explained the process to us and started to prepare the injections, Mark looked at me, tears streaming down his face, and said “I don’t want to do this.” I almost broke then. But instead I said, “We will never want to do this. This will never be easy. Not today or any day.”
I have to say, the final minutes were quite peaceful. Chico wasn’t shaking or scared. He was just snug in my arms, with soft whispers and gentle petting as he took his last breaths. I am so so very glad we searched for another vet. Our neighbors referred us to Dr. Barry at Skillman Animal Clinic and she could not have been more compassionate or loving.
After we pulled ourselves together, Mark said “I am amazed at how peaceful I am about this. I wasn’t – going into it. But now that it’s done, I know we did the right thing for him.” Cataracts, hips slipping, loss of hearing, skin lesions, and Cushings disease were all having their way with our companion of sixteen years. It was time to let him go.
But telling the children? Well that was a whole ‘nother thing.
I pick them each up at a different time. My gut led me to tell them individually, instead of collectively. The first one was our ten year old. As soon as he realized what I was saying, the tears started. They flowed for about two minutes and then he said, through the tears “Can we fix our floors now?” We both laughed and then he went right back to crying. (You may recall that the Cushings disease has had Chico peeing in his favorite spot in our dining room for a while now. The only fix will be to replace that section of flooring.)
The thirteen year old was next. I picked him up from the bus stop and he was happy and full of enthusiasm after the first day of track practice. How I hated to have to ruin his good mood. To say he was wrecked would be a huge understatement. He tried to hold back the tears (too old now, I suppose, to cry in front of his Mom). He ultimately pulled his sweatshirt up over his head and let the sobs wrack his whole long body. He bolted into the house as soon as we hit the driveway and went straight to his room. The sounds of the crying and wailing coming from behind his door broke my heart. How I wished he would let me comfort him.
The seven year old? Easy peasy. One small gasp, followed quickly by a very direct “Where?” I answered with “In my arms. Peaceful.” And then he asked to go play with his friend next door.
We sure will miss our Chico. His warm little body snuggled up next to us on the couch. The pitter patter of his too long nails, roaming about the first floor. The way he lounged in the sunlight. Most of all, I think I will miss the outline of his little face, always just behind the front door glass, waiting for us every single time we returned home.
Some days are harder than others. And this was one of those days…