I thought I was prepared. I was wrong. So, so wrong.
It’s been one month before I could even write this post.
Four weeks ago I got up around 4am and went down the hall to use the bathroom. Mr. Cooper was lying in the hallway in an odd position. As I got closer I could hear his breath was wheezy and shallow. Crap. I woke up Johnny and told him that I thought we were at the end of the line. He agreed. I drug my pillow and a blanket out into the hallway and laid next to him, assuring him that it was alright to go. I awoke around 7am and he had moved into the living room but again, he was laying in a spot he’s never laid in before. I decided that work could wait and I’d spend the day with him. We slept a little while and I kept stroking his head, telling him goodbye. I prayed he’d just peacefully pass on his own.
After awhile I realized he hadn’t been outside since the night before. I asked him if he needed to go and he responded with a meek but certain “yes”, but just laid there. He slowly lifted his head and his tail gently thumped, and then it hit me. He couldn’t stand up. I stood over him and laced my knuckles under his belly and gently tried to help him to his feet as we’ve done lately when he’s fallen. I put yoga mats all over the house to help with his traction but this was different.
His back legs just buckled.
They say you’ll know when it’s time , and I knew. I called our clinic and miraculously they’d had a noon cancelation. This Doctor does not normally do house calls but he had examined Mr. Cooper three weeks ago for a “quality of life assessment” so he knew we were in a dire situation. As I waited to for Johnny to come home I kept stroking his head and whispering to him. I recounted some of our happy times and told him that we’d had a good run and now it’s time to rest. He laid with his sweet head in my hands and drifted in and out.
The Doc showed up with an assistant and a gurney. They couldn’t have been more professional or compassionate. They explained what was going to go down and consoled me the best they could on what was the worst day of my life.
It was peaceful and perfect and although my heart aches I know I did the right thing. Laying around waiting to die with a full bladder sounds like no fun to me. The Doc assured me I made the right decision. The old Mr. Cooper wouldn’t have stood for 2 strangers man-handling him so I knew he was fading on me by his lack of a response. They gently slipped the needle into his left paw and I held his head in my hands. I looked into his droopy eyes and I told him I loved him. I told him I’d always love him. I tried so hard to keep my voice calm and peaceful and not to be wracked with sobs, but it was tough. It’s funny, I never questioned it until it was over and then I questioned everything. Euthanasia is a weird thing. His pain stopped and mine started.
Now the house feels empty. I keep looking for him. I wake up and think it was all just a bad dream. I hear his collar shake in the hallway and hear his rear end going out the doggy door. I go from intense grief to terrible anger in a single breath. I thought we had more time. Why didn’t we have more time? Why is my best friend gone?
People tell me I should get another dog. I need somewhere for the “love to go”. I don’t want another dog, I want THAT DOG back. That scruffy smelly bad breath-having crooked toothed floppy eared dog that shed red wiry hair everywhere possible and that I loved like I’ve never loved anything before.
I hear it will get better. At least I hope it will. The other day Ella was looking at me trying to hold back tears as I made her lunch. I was biting my lip and trying to hold it together as she’s only 9 and she loved him as well. She came up and hugged me and said “it’s okay, I know your heart is broken”.
It is broken, Ella, and on top of that, there’s a huge hole in it.