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May 9, 2019 at 8:19 am #293019RayParticipant
A very old thread, I know. I found it searching for stories that might help me understand my own pain. I imagine and hope the original poster has long ago moved forward, but it’s interesting to see online how common a thread this is. My own Golden was put to sleep less than 14 hours ago. I had no idea the pain associated with losing a dog until now. She was 15 (old for a Golden), the passing was peaceful relative to many stories: we trusted our vet (he is great and was very patient in explaining the health conditions and prognosis). She stopped eating except for special treats, had lots of trouble moving, she was deaf and started to seem increasingly unable to do any of those things that had given her joy. The best case, given her afflictions, was she would last a few weeks in gradually worsening shape–the worst case was that a tumor would burst and she would suffer at the end while we tried to get her help to pass on. Still, as logical and humane as was the timing, it was unimaginably hard to let go of this dog–there were still echos of her old self. A part of me wanted to hang onto her at all cost.
I have a fairly manageable life, happy marriage, and hadn’t given all that much thought to any of this until the last few months (she started having issues 18 months ago and was on meds since that time, so it wasn’t a shock and there was ostensibly time to adjust). We (wife and I) knew the storm was coming from a long way out, we had talked, supported each other, I have no particular second guesses about timing or choices: despite all of these seeming advantages, the end hit me like the proverbial truck.
We had the adult children present at the end–telling stories and sharing photos–it was a peaceful almost serene passing in our home. When we held her as the vet was administering and she was passing I felt like the world had stopped and I was lost in some surreal other place. I honestly have never cried so much or felt some much pain in my life. I’ve lost best friends and a sibling–and it was hard but not quite like this. I came on the web to understand: why would this be so different and devastating–it’s as some say “just a dog”.
I can say after many hours of reading posts: my pain is far from unique. I thought because she was so gentle, so loving a dog that perhaps my situation was just very different, that I was more bonded–maybe excessively bonded. I work from home so this dog was my partner all day, every day. But, I’ve found that very many of us are in the same boat. Some people writing on forums have misgivings over the final choices–maybe in some cases mistaking their inevitable pain for something they imagine they could have chosen around. The fact is though: many of us spend so much of our lives in close proximity to a pet that the experience of our life and the pet becomes virtually inseparable. Short of a spouse or child, I can only imagine it’s hard for any other loss to compare. When, for years, the first thing you hear every morning is your dog rattling her tags to get you up and take her out, and the last thing everyday is her bumping the side of your bed as she lays down next to you; you can expect that separation is going to hurt like mad.
I don’t know the long game of this–as I said it’s only been less than a day for me. Instead of working I’m searching the web to take some kind of comfort in the stories of others, and posting my own. I’m going to take a walk and gather myself, and then later I’ll take a look at some pictures and try to smile. I may talk to a therapist if my emotions don’t feel at least a bit more manageable later in the week. A very lovely being permeated my years with her love and playfulness. I had not fully grasped the extent of the gift until the last few days. It sounds corny, but both my wife and I thanked her as she was about to leave. We hope to be able to turn back to her memory and smile in the infinitude of small joys she brought us when the intensity of the moment settles down. If you are in the same boat, now or years down the line reading through the threads, know that I, and many others, are there with you, holding you, and feeling what you feel.