I didn’t lose my dog – I know just where I left him.
His body to the breeze, his heart in my heart.
I walked out of the specialist office Thursday night December 5th, 2019 with only a collar in my hands.
The world had shrunk, and I had no say in the shrinking. I was always going to have to say goodbye to him. That it took so long to come was a blessing.
And still, and still, it felt like too soon.
He suddenly fell ill the day after thanksgiving and we couldn’t figure out why. We quickly rushed him to the 24 hour vet specialist and he was declining very fast. They kept him overnight and called us the next morning saying they see unidentified cells in his blood which more than likely could be Leukemia, pending results that were sent out. They said it’s OK to have us stop what we’re doing and say your goodbyes. My heart was telling me I couldn’t do that.
Longest 27 hours of my life. The specialist called and said that the cells were not cancer. He said he wants to run a chest xray but he doesn’t believe he will find anything. Suggested we come up to see my dog and talk over the results. We went up there and showed us the xrays of my dogs chest, saying he has phenomena which was odd. Asked us if he had come into contact with any dog that might had it or was sick because he didn’t have it two weeks ago? I said no, not at all. (the night he passed we found out he did) I live in the PNW and during the rainy season we play mostly inside.
He declined even more and was told that there is an infection somewhere that got into his bloodstream and is bleeding internally, but he is anemic and needs a blood transfusion to bring his counts up to fight this and to get him healthy so they can put him under to stop the bleeding. 4 hours later, they called to say that his BP dropped and he is dependent on 100% oxygen in the oxygen box and it’s maybe time to say goodbye.
I was confused, lost. I don’t know where I went wrong. I took care of him like he was my child. He has been with me since he was a puppy and I, a teenager. He helped kids and adults with mental disorders, went on adventures, road trips, celebrated every birthday he has ever had, he had thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas presents to open. He had the best life I could give him. I’d live in a cardboard box and go broke for him. He was my world. I put my career on hold to care for him because I didn’t know how many more years he had left.
The vet laid him in my lap, I put his puppy blanket on him, and I got to tell him (even though he was deaf) how much I love him, how much happiness he brought me, and how much I didn’t want him to suffer anymore. He looked up at me once and closed his eyes before she administered the shot to put him to sleep. His little body jerked four times and he was gone. He looked so peaceful just like how he did when he would snuggle with me. At that moment a part of me went with him and I didn’t want to let go. I so badly wanted him to stay but I didn’t want him to suffer. I would’ve given him my years if it meant he could touch more people’s lives and live happy. I know that is never the case with these pets and you wish they could live forever, but that’s just how life works. Like the day I got my beagle laying in my lap 14 years ago as a puppy sleeping, is the same way he left as a puppy at heart. I’m so broken, it kills me so badly.
I felt his little heart stop, and in my mind, I thought of all the things we will never get to do together. He will never walk the red carpet with me like I had planned, he won’t go on long hikes, car rides, picking out his favorite toy, helping people, nothing. He’s gone. Forever. My movie is incomplete because I’m mentally not ready and I won’t be for a while, and who knows if I do continue with it. I don’t care what I miss out on in the industry, he was number one in my book and I need time to heal and process this loss. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was say goodbye to him.
I’m having a hard time coping and I miss my best friend every minute. A part of me truly went with him. It was the look of sadness in his eyes because we both knew that an end was coming.
I held him wanting to take his pain away, knowing the hardest decision I have to make is for the best.
Written on December 5, 2019
I always knew that there would come a time when I would have to let you go. But today, while I watched you fight for your life, I told you, “Not yet, please. I need you, please, please”.
If it were up to me, I would have wished for “not ever.” But that is not how it works. So I told you I’d settle for “not yet.”
I remember the first day you came into my life. You were so tiny. The moment you were handed to me, you captured my heart. And I know that as soon as your sad eyes fell on me, you had given your heart to me.
Since then, those sad eyes looked at me with the kind of love and devotion that only dogs have for their humans.
But today, those sad eyes looked at me not only with the same love and devotion, but with a silent goodbye.
It broke my heart to see you suffering, but I asked you to stay. I begged you to not leave. It was selfish, but I was so scared of losing you.
I remember the first time I brought you to the coast. Without fear or hesitation, you ran off on the beach collecting crab shells. And for the next hours you dug up shells, and ran around happily.
Afterwards, you came up next to me as I watched the sunset, your nose bumping my knee in what I understood as gratitude for a wonderful day.
Today, as I watched you struggle to keep your eyes open, that memory came to me. I told you that you had to get better so we could go back to the coast – that you could catch crab shells the whole day. And that afterwards, I’d even give you the mangoes and sliced apples that you loved so much.
I always knew that eventually I would have to let you go. That there would come a day when I’d come home and not see you wagging your tail, or that I wouldn’t hear you bark like mad when our neighbor drops by, or see your silly smiles when we go out for walks.
But it’s just one of those things that you refuse to believe were inevitable, you know?
And today, when I woke up to find you weak, and unable to get up, a part of me knew that I would have to let you go today. Still, I chose to listen to the more stubborn part of me. I still hoped that I wouldn’t lose you just yet.
I remember the first time I thought that I had lost you. You and Itchy got out the front door without me knowing. I searched the entire house, and even went outside, hoping that you had not run away. But then I walked to the front door after searching the whole city to find you waiting there with your toy. I fell to my knees, crying.
Today, when you finally took your last breath, I was reminded of that day – of how panicked I was that I couldn’t find you. And as I entered the quiet house, despite me knowing that you were gone, I still hoped that I’d find you by the fridge, waiting for food to drop.
But of course, you weren’t there. Because this time, I had really lost you.
So today’s the day that I lost you – my loyal, and loving friend.
Today’s the day that I come home, and not have you waiting for me.
But more importantly, today is the day that I say thank you for everything. For teaching me the first day that you came into my life that it is possible to love and be loved wholeheartedly. For showing me that day I first brought you to the coast that you could find happiness in the littlest of things.
Today’s the day that you remind me one of life’s greatest lessons – that every moment is important, and that is crucial that you take every chance you get to let someone know or feel that you love them.
Today’s the day that I let you go, and even though it hurts, I know I’m not OK. Your happiness was my happiness.
With all these lessons you have taught me, you’ll always be with me.
I gave my heart to a three-month old hound puppy named Little Feet nearly fourteen years ago, and I cannot describe how full he left it. Even now that it’s broken. Even now that each beat comes with an echo of hurt, a shadow of missing. It holds a paw print belonging to a dog with the littlest of paws, to match the biggest of ears, to match the biggest of hearts.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I wish I could have explained to him the depth of my love. I hope he felt it. I hope that he had the happiest life possible. I know I made the best decision for him because he would’ve been in constant pain, but I can’t help feeling that I betrayed him. He trusted me to protect and take care of him. The most painful part of making decisions when it comes to a pet’s health is knowing that they don’t understand what’s happening. I hope he somehow knows how very sorry I am, that I miss him all day every day, and that I will never forget him.
I love you Little Feet with all I have.