I knew that eventually day this day would come; the day I would be faced with making the most difficult decision of my life. I struggled with it for quite some time even before it became apparent that the need for a decision was imminent. I was afraid to give up on you but at the same time I didn’t want you to suffer. Selfishly each night near the end I prayed that God would take you over the rainbow bridge and that I wouldn’t have to make the decision I knew in my heart was coming. It would have been “easier” to make had you stopped eating or drinking but that wasn’t the case. Rather your 14 year old body just couldn’t keep up with your unwavering youthful spirit. You couldn’t do all the things a dog should have been able to do, play fetch, run, chase rabbits, and be free of the burden time had placed on your body. And then I started to see a new look in your eyes. It was subtle at first, but it was there none-the-less. Where there had once been joy and light there was now moments of sadness and confusion. That’s when I knew it was time.
I talked to our vet and cried a river of tears as I made the appointment to do what you needed me to do for you. It was now about preserving your dignity as the quality of your life declined. I could no longer hold out for more time with you as the hour glass had finally run out. You needed me to say what your eyes were conveying. You needed me to acknowledge that it was time to let you go.
I tried my best to prepare the kids for what was to come. You were their buddy, their friend, and their loyal companion. You’d been there for each of their births and lovingly let them pull on your ears and snuggle you as toddlers. You’d played fetch with them and let them chase you around the yard in your youth. You’d been everything and more to them.
We spent that last night together, reminiscing about all that we had been through over the years. I gently stroked your head and scratched behind your ears and lovingly thanked you for being there for me through everything; the birth of my children, my divorce, my remarriage, the addition of other four-legged friends, and and a new home. Your unwavering love and support knew no boundaries. You were loyal beyond belief. I fondly remembered every moment as the hot tears streamed down my face. I know somewhere I had read not to cry around your pet because it could stress them out, yet in these last moments I couldn’t hold back the wave of emotions that had overcome me.
On that day you seemed to know that the end had come. You took a final walk around the yard, something you hadn’t done in quite awhile. You sniffed and explored that one last time, looking around to make sure everything was just right. You sat on the front porch and waited for the boys to come home from school, one last time. You knew.
We helped you into the car, all of us, your family, and took that fateful drive. I sobbed as I walked into the vet, as did all of us who loved you so much. The end was peaceful and dignified and I held your head and stroked your ears as you took your last breath. I pray you heard us tell you how much we loved you and how much we were going to miss you. I pray you heard me tell you what a good dog you truly were. The kids all said their goodbyes. Through their tear-stained faces they told you how much you were loved. And you were. There isn’t a dog alive that will ever hold a candle to the gentleness, loyalty, and love you brought to our lives.
And after all was said and done you still managed one last act of kindness. While we went to bed with heavy hearts that night, we awoke to what I truly believe was a sign from you that you were at peace. We woke up to a very unexpected (and not in the forecast) dusting a snow (your favorite) covering the yard. It was as if you were telling us that Heaven was a wonderful place to be.
Rest in Peace Major, run free…