Tomorrow is the big day. The day we have been dreading. The day we have been putting off for months. It’s the day we say goodbye to our 12 year old German Shepherd. I’m not quite sure what to do with all my feelings about it. Most of me wants to cry. Part of me knows that we’ve kept her alive a little too long already, just so we didn’t have to feel this discomfort. And a little part of me wants to lay down and go to sleep with her just to make sure she gets where she is going.
We’ve watched her walk around in pain for the last 3 months. We’ve given her pain meds at 5 am and 5 pm like clockwork to try and make her more comfortable. But, I guess when it comes to dogs, they will never choose to give up. That’s something that we, humans, don’t have a lot of. She would live forever in pain just to make sure she is always by my side. And for a while, I was ok with that. But as I’ve watched her get old and watched her face start to grey and her teeth start to fall out, I realized that she will never let me go. So I have to be the one to let her go.
I’m sure this is not the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. My mom almost died when I was a teenager and before we knew she would live, we had to say goodbye and move to Tennessee. That was hard. One of my best friends died unexpectedly quite a few years ago. That was hard. A high school love committed suicide many years ago. That was hard.
But saying goodbye to my dog, it’s proving to be more than hard. And maybe it’s because I know when it’s coming. I know that tomorrow at 3 pm, we will be walking into a room at the vet. I will probably lay down next to her and tell her one last time how much I love her and what a good girl she has always been. I will thank her for always loving me unconditionally no matter my mood, or my attitude, or my disappearing acts when I would take off for hours to go driving in the mountains. That’s the thing about dogs. They ALWAYS love you. They never get mad at you. They always expect you to come home. They always want what’s best for you. I guess it’s true that there’s a lot we could learn from them.
I am grateful, though, that it’s happening this way instead of the other way. I am glad that she has lived a long and healthy life. I am glad that she got to experience walking on the beach even if it was just once. I’m glad she got to run with coyotes in her younger days and sleep in the bed with me. She had the best of the wild and the domesticated. And she has loved me so much over the last 12 years. When I broke my elbow, she laid next to me all day after my surgery. And now, all I want to do is lay next to her and tell her how much I love her.
I know some people think she’s “just a dog” but she’s been so much more to me than that. She’s been my one constant. We’ve lived in 4 different houses together. She’s been there through at least a dozen job changes. She’s watched 2 of my 3 kids move out of the house. She made being an empty nester more tolerable.
And Will formerly known as Flea Market Guy loves her too. This will be our first loss in sobriety. Three years ago, we would have just gone to a bar and drank until we didn’t feel the pain anymore. And we would have continued to do so until it subsided. We would not have chosen to “feel” the pain. But drinking is not an option in our lives anymore so our only choice is to feel it. And feel it we are.
The next few days will be hard, but I guess if I were to weigh the pain of the next few days against the joys of the last 12 years with her, I have way more joy to remember than pain to feel. So that is what I am going to focus on.
Girl.. you make me cry .. So very proud of you You are so talented. You are a writer.. you need to write ! c Colleen Duffley Productions Colleen Duffley Photographer / Creative Director / Brand Manager
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