Dog

I was sitting on the floor with Ariel, holding her head and petting her, supporting her from behind as they administered the euthanasia drug. Rob was in front of her, tears streaming down his face. It was SO SAD. I am now a grown up.

Ariel was 15 years old back in January. So, by May 18th when she died, we did the math and determined she felt like a 108 year old woman. She had a good, healthy, long, beautiful life and she was loved so much. But it is so sad and I completely understand the term “with a heavy heart.” I feel like there is a weight on my chest. I feel the loss, completely.

She had a bad weekend, tripped down the stairs and her left elbow was swollen. She was having trouble just sitting down or standing up. She couldn’t go down the few stairs from the front porch anymore to go potty. So, she had started peeing on the porch and pooping in the house. I had been sleeping in the guest room on the main floor for two months because she wasn’t able to climb the stairs to go up to our bedroom at night any more. But she didn’t want to be alone down there.

At night I would go up at 8pm to put the kids to bed and sing to them “When at Night” and she would sit at the bottom of the steps panting and getting anxiety thinking I wasn’t coming back down to her. We had to block the stairs so that she wouldn’t try to come up and hurt herself.

But she was still so happy for these late months! She would follow me around, sit at my feet, jump up for meals and when Rob came home from work. I think back though and wonder if we kept her a little longer than we should have. But then another part of me feels like we took her life before she was naturally ready to die. It’s such a tough thing. I can see why people want to put their pets or loved ones out of their misery with Euthanasia but we can’t do it for people.

For pets, they are fully devoted and dependent on us and they don’t understand why life is so painful and hard. They supposedly don’t have a “soul” like we do, although I question that now that I’ve known Ariel. The sad thing is I don’t think it was right to put her down, at least not right from a Catholic/ethical perspective. I could have cared for her until her natural death.

But every body says that’s what you’re supposed to do. I don’t know why exactly, but I ended up trusting everybody else and not my own judgment. My own judgment says to take care of her in her old age as I would a person. So, part of me feels like I killed my dog. 😦

Logically, I suppose—oh I don’t know. I don’t feel her presence AT ALL. It is just a total and complete loss so far. I “hear” her scratch at the door and I start to go let her in, then remember she’s gone. I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and in the dark on the way back to the bed I walk around the spot where she used to lay—so not to step on her head or tail, like it used to be. Then I realize she’s gone.

After the swim meet Thursday night, we were on our way home from Deer Run and I called Rob to tell him and for a split second I thought to tell him that I hadn’t fed the dog—I always fed her, so if the timing wasn’t right and I was out during her normal eating times then I would tell him so he could feed her. But this time it didn’t matter because she was already gone.

The first night, after we buried her I sort of had a little freaked out period where I ached that she was out side. I needed to bring her in from the cold. I needed to comfort her. I needed to pet her, to love her. I cried that she was dead and buried and pictured her lying there underneath all that dirt. She looked so pretty and peaceful after she passed and I just kept picturing her cold and scared outside.

I have two sets of emotions. The first is more selfish—for 15 years I have cared for her and she has been on the forefront of my mind every single day. I fed her, cared for her or made sure she was cared for. I played with her, made her comfortable and was uniquely tuned into her. So, after 15 + years of that, there is a void. All that emotional energy spent “caring” for her is now just gone. That is the heavy heart part.

The second set of emotions is for her. Is she happy? Is she comfortable? Is she cold? Where is her spirit? I don’t feel her. So, where is she? She can’t just be “gone” because she was such a loving and special spirit of a dog. She was so “human.” So, now that her body is gone, where IS she and who is taking care of her? I want to feel her presence. But I don’t. I want to “know” that she is happy now, but I don’t.

She’s just gone.

The night before she died, we gave her filet mignon for dinner. She hadn’t eaten her real dinner but she ate this! The next morning we gave her the peanut butter jar to lick and we sat with her all morning. The vet came to our house at 10:50am (they were late). Rob and I held her. They gave her the initial sedative and she layed down and seemed very relaxed but alert. We talked to her and told her we loved her. The vet and vet tech went out side and we spent several more minutes alone with her. Then we called them in and they administered the drug that killed her. I know I shouldn’t use that word “killed” but it is the word that fits for me. I feel like we killed her.

After the vet left, I lied with her while Rob went to the store to get plastic to wrap her up in. When he came back, we laid her on the plastic and she looked SO BEAUTIFUL, just like she was sleeping. After a while, it took all we had but we wrapped her up in the plastic and carried her up the back yard hil to the spot we had dug for her.

We said a prayer. Rob read it:

To everything there is a season,a time for every purpose under the sun.A time to be born and a time to die;a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;a time to kill and a time to heal …a time to weep and a time to laugh;a time to mourn and a time to dance …a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek;a time to rend and a time to sew;a time to keep silent and a time to speak;a time to love and a time to hate;a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8

He cried and I didn’t. The whole day I didn’t cry. Part of me thought how STRANGE it was that I wasn’t crying while tears were streaming down Rob’s face. I wondered if there was something wrong with me? I wondered if I have a mental problem with attachment or something. But then the wiser me said this is what it is. If I’m not crying now, then it’s just my way of dealing with and processing this very huge thing. I was methodical and silent. Loving and firm. I was the one that pressed on.

What I mean by this is for example, when Rob suggested the vet might not be able to come that day I insisted that it was time, that today is the day. When the vet was there and they stepped outside to give us more time, I was the one to tell them it was time to come in and get on with it. When we laid her on the plastic I was the one to finally pull the end up and over her. When we laid her in the grave, eventually I was the one to shovel the first dirt onto her (although I was careful not to put it ON her, just next to her). It was ALL SO AWFUL. But I kept going through the motions, feeling the void but doing what had to be done. Meanwhile, Rob’s tears flowed openly.

He read the prayer. Then we buried her. We put stones in a circle around her grave and big stones at the top. We put a statue of St. Francis on her grave.

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