Thursday, September 16, 2010
Today is supposed to be a post for the Bookanistas but my heart is a little too heavy for it.
My dog, Bud, is not doing well.
My dog is losing his spunk, his zest for life, his bowel function when he sleeps, and he can barely walk, see or hear. The one thing that keeps me filled with hope is that he still eats and steals food from everyone. I always felt as long as he was eating, he'd be ok.
I always prayed I would not have to make a decision regarding my dogs' passing. I mean it's not my job right? Its not in my human job description. But as my dog withers away, I'm faced with the question -
how do you know when it's time to let go?
I'm conflicted. I dont want to help him pass out of this world and into another - out of convenience or even too soon. But I also dont want him to suffer in any way.
A couple years ago, my boxer went quietly into the night. He was fine one day, the next morning my daughter and I found him in his bed - he had died in his sleep. Besides seeing both my grandparents die when I was little, I hadn't faced death in a long time before my dog. At least not with anyone close to me. At the time, I took my Boxer's death hard. I had NO idea he was leaving us - he was happy the day before - and I felt like there was so much left unsaid. So much love that I hadn't shown. I felt guilty that I hadn't given him tons of time the days or weeks before b/c of the busyness of being a parent to young kids. Yet at times, I was thankful he didn't suffer at all. That he had a peaceful transition.
Since that day, I've coddled my Jack Russell (who has been mine for the last 15 years) for the last 2 years. I wanted to be sure that if to be sure everything was said that needed to be said.
But now, as part of me wants my dog to move on to a happier place where he can run and stay young forever, the other part of me is afraid of making the decision to let him go. Since this has really been my dog, my husband feels (rightly so) that it is ultimately my decision. But anyone who knows knows I cant make this. I cry at commercials. I cry when I hear sad stories on the news. I cry at songs, books. And any sign of anyone or anything suffering - whether it be a dog or other animal, I lose it.
So my question - how do I know? Everyone says I will but I am wondering if that is really true. I dont think we actually know when it's a good time, I just think we come to accept that its time. But what if i make the decision and not only do it too soon, but regret it for the rest of my life. Then what? I can't take it back or do a "do-over". I have to live with that forever and wonder if I did the right thing.
I pray every night that a higher power comes in and transitions my dog before I have to make a decision on my own. Yet then I feel guilty for cutting my dog short of what could be some extra time on this Earth with me.
I'll never have a dog like this one. He was my first dog. I'd grown up with cats my whole life. My ex-fiance bought him for me in 1995 and he has been a good dog. Bud has stood by me through thick or thin. He's traveled across the country in a carry-on dog bag with me. He's driven thousands of miles with me. He licked my tears when my heart was so broken that I wondered if I'd ever be the same. He moved to the beach with me for a few months and it was just he and I and the water. He filled a space that some didn't care was empty. He was there when I got married, when both my kids were born. He was by my side helping me recover through surgeries, sadness, and loneliness. Always with a smile on his face.
Any dog we ever get again will never be just mine. Will never be the same. because you see no matter what anyone says, you can never love a dog the same after kids. Its not that you love them less, its that you realize how much you can love something more.
So I feel like I'm losing more than my dog when he goes. I feel like I'm losing a piece of me, my history, my past, my innocence, my youth. A piece that will never be the same.
I'm reminded sometimes of his funny spirit and how full of life he has always been until now. Jumping, smiling, playing, barking, scratching, jumping, eating, playing jumping eating (did I mention jumping?). When I first saw him among a litter of Jack Russells, I knew he was spunky and the one for me. He came running around the corner, bouncing like a jack rabbit with a very tiny stick in his mouth. While all the other puppies milled around my feet, Bud was the only one that demanded I give him all my attention. Clawing and begging for my attention. For me to take that stick and throw it to him. For me to share a moment with him.
And he won.
Now as my dogs spots seem to fade quickly so does his strength. And with that, so does my hope that he can stick it out just one more year. So does my hope that he too will go quietly into the night.
And in comes the reality that no one or no thing lives forever. Yet everyone and everything will live on.
I could use any advice if anyone has gone through this.
Thanks for listening. Sorry about the heavy post. I'll be back and peppy tomorrow :)