Over the past few years, he had slowed down. Walking and climbing became more difficult. He required more help with basic things. He was having health scares more often. We all knew this day was coming; however, nobody was ready for the day to actually be here.
The day came. It was a quick, unexpected turn that lead to a very fast and difficult decision. The decision that our desire for him to be here was not more important than his quality of life.
I am experienced with grief. Far too much grief, if I’m being honest.
But I’ve never lost a dog.
I was not prepared for the extreme emotions that have come with the grief, very similar to that of losing a person.
I wasn’t prepared for the guilt I would feel after. Those questions like “Did I make this decision too quickly?” or “Should I have given him more time with us?”
Guilt has been one of the more difficult things to cope with. It’s complicated. When a person dies, it almost always happens on its own, with you having such little control. Being the person to have to make the decision to end a life is more painful than I ever could have imagined.
I did a lot of reading the past few weeks. Trying to understand and process my emotions surrounding this. I found one thing that really stood out to me. It was a comment a vet left on someone’s post saying, “A week too early is better than a day too late.” How incredibly true. He was suffering and in pain. Who am I to get to be selfish because I wanted more time with him? He shouldn’t have had to go even one more day in pain and suffering. But nonetheless, the pain was bad.
He was part of the family.
He greeted me at the door for almost 15 years. He had been my comfort through some of life’s most tragic and difficult experiences. He was also there for all of the good. Two best friends that did not speak the same language—however, we never needed to.
This grief has been exhausting at times. More so than I ever thought possible. Maybe someone who hasn’t lost a pet doesn’t understand, in the way I didn’t until I experienced it, but I will say with confidence a member of the family died that day. He took a piece of my heart with him, and he will always have a big spot in mine.
Until we meet again.