I didn't expect 2016 to start like this.
I had talked before about my sweet dog. How he was getting older, and I felt like a caretaker in some ways. When we got the last rabies shot, it was a three year one. The vet said it would probably be his last. Three years. He had a habit of having a hard day, and then bouncing back like a young puppy again. That's just what he did. I don't think I REALLY expected this year to start like this.
After that rabies shot he had his normal evening seizure. Truly I expected it and thought nothing of it. Those visits were simply hard on him and he always reacted badly. But then the seizures started during the day time, and then when he was awake. And then he had a seizure one night, which was not unusually long or big. I don't know what happened, but it changed everything. His breathing immediately changed. It was shorter and faster. And it worried me.
Within the next day he started having these attacks where he sounded as if he was coughing up a hair ball though no coughing up. If he stood he could get it under control and start breathing normally again. Well, fast and short, but quiet. And over Christmas break he had some really bad days. But we couldn't make a decision on just a bad day, or even a bad week. Because he would bounce back. He always did.
But this time he didn't. And he got up one night 5 times trying to breath, and I knew that it was no longer loving him by keeping him here. So I called the vet.
I've never had to let a dog go before. Not like this. Deliver him to a new family, where he would run the long day through, yes, but not this. And my heart broke. I put him up on my bed and laid down with him for a little bit, secretly hoping the vet would tell me it wasn't time yet. But as I went to pick him up to take him to the car he had another seizure. And my first tear fell.
The vet was exceptional, caring, and kind. They always have been. They explained the process, and checked him out, and stood in agreement with me. But I had to sign the paper. And I had to make the decision. Because it was no one else's decision but mine. They asked me if I wanted to stay or wait outside, and I replied, "There's no other place for me to be."
And it hit me. "Be" can mean a world of stuff, and not always where or what I prefer. But if I want to BE the person God created me to be, then I need to step up to the plate and BE where he has placed me.
They gave him the anesthesia which stung like the rabies shot did a few months earlier. He nuzzled his head into me as I told him it was okay. They left the room for it to take affect, and I picked him up and held him as I sat in the corner. I pet him, whispered to him, prayed, thanked him, apologized to him, and waited. As they came back in for the final step my mind went a little crazy screaming not yet, but thankfully that was just in my mind.
I stood and laid him gently on the table. He was not moving, and they said at this point he didn't know who anyone was. His breathing had slowed down. I just watched his sweet face, and continued petting him wondering if it was too late to change my mind, because selfishly I wanted him to come home with me. But it was too late. And if I wanted to be sure of anything at this point, I wanted to be sure I didn't choose out of selfishness for me but love for him.
I spoke softly. I watched. The vet listened to his heart. And I knew. Before she told me. I saw. He was no longer with me.
As I left there without him it was surreal. My mind will never forget him laying on the table, but I also will never forget that he was not there any longer. He didn't look like he was sleeping. He wasn't there. I know I'm not explaining that well, but he simply wasn't.
Since then he has run through fields, barked at butterflies, laughed through his eyes, and licked my hand. The imagination can bring solace and pain at the same time. A question remains with me, if I had given him more time would he have bounced back? But he wasn't showing signs of bouncing back this time. I still have guilt, though. I had wanted him to fall asleep here at the house, happy on his pillow, quietly by design.
The thing I feel most guilty about? Any time I ever complained about him. I wish I hadn't let those thoughts have control. I wish I had focused less on that part.
I really hoped he would bounce back. The house is really quiet and still. I'm not really sure how to do this, but as I have learned life goes on. And while he was no longer on that vet table, he will always be in my heart.
Sweet Chip, thank you for 12 amazing years. I'm glad I got to be loved by you.
I tried to love you well. I hope you knew that.