I first held her on a Thursday. It was the 25th March, 2004. She was a tiny ball of grey and white fluff, curled in the pet shop window. I didn’t know the evils of pet shop windows back then, and I am glad. If I had, I would never have found her.
I’d seen her twice that week. The first time I passed her by as she played with her siblings. I was still traumatised by the home break ins. I’d been recently robbed, and was still mulling over the psychologist’s suggestion, “Why don’t you get a dog?”
The second time I saw Moo, she was sleeping. Stretched out the way I came to love. She lifted her little head and opened sleepy eyes and we looked at each other through the window. Did she know then? That soon I’d be back to take her away?
They say third time is a charm. And it was. I was early for a haircut. She was still in the window. I had a spare fifteen minutes or so. I walked into the pet shop and asked if I could hold her. It took less then a second of her in my arms before I knew that she was the one.
She came home with me that day. It was the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died when I eleven and I wanted a way to sweeten the date. So instead of a day of sadness, it became our “Gotcha” day. It became the happiest day in my life.
As I sit here now, the house is so strangely quiet. Sammy looks for her everywhere. He’s taken to sleeping in her favourite spot. Even when I straightened my legs in bed last night, my feet searched for her so as not to disturb her. It’s so hard to believe she is gone. I used to tell her often “You are perfect in every way.” And she was. She was that once in a blue moon dog.
Reminders of her are everywhere and the grief inside me, it’s so unpredictable, so intolerable. Things that were once routine are now missing. They form gaping cracks in my day. I stumble across them and find myself tripping into that roiling sea of grief- over and over. And at times, I wish I could drown so I no longer have to feel this pain.
The vastness of it measures the love I have for this little dog. And there aren’t words to describe just how much she means to me, even in death. She taught me so many lessons. She gave me endless love. She never judged. She never failed me. She never turned away when things got too hard. She loved me for who I was, without ever wanting me to change. She really was and still is my closest friend.
In March this year, she went on medication for a failing heart that was enlarged but determined to keep on beating. Despite the four rounds of meds every day, her tail kept wagging, she kept on smiling, and she danced with joy at the prospect of going for a walk. Even up until the day before she died. She was the happiest little being I’ve ever known. I would tell her that her heart had become big because it was so full of love, she’d almost run out of room and that soon she’d have to go home and share all that love she found here on Earth. And she was so loved. It’s no surprise her heart grew so big.
The decision to end her life summoned pain beyond my wildest imaginings. And I struggled. Every day. For months. Trying to make that call. I questioned myself over and over. Was it too soon? Should she die on her own clock? Who was I to take away what was left of her life? Was I betraying her after all she had given me over the years? I tortured myself daily trying to find some kind of peace amid the torment I was feeling. I resented every moment away from her.
There were a few times when I thought it was time, but she’d rally by afternoon and her old self would return, tail wagging, little legs propelling her out the doggy flap, barking her face off at the dogs up and down the street.She still had so much life in her, even up until the end.
Almost convinced it was time, I took her down to the vet. She’d had a horrid weekend, her breathing was laboured, her cough was worsening. I had a little bit of wriggle room left with her meds. So I took it. I tweaked her meds the day before I took her in, hoping that might buy her a bit more time. But that next morning, I thought we had lost the battle. And I will always be grateful for Rod, my vet, saying he thought we could give her a little more time – to see if the increased dose kicked in. And it did. It bought us a little bit more precious time together. That in itself changed everything.
I’d always wanted her to die at home. Not at the vet surgery. I had so many ideals about how I wanted it to end. I put so much pressure on myself trying to get it right for her and for me, I was so stressed but in the end, I had to let go of it all. I had to accept that it would play out however it would play out. I didn’t want to end her life but I certainly didn’t want her to get to the point where she was so distressed and suffering because of my fear of losing her.
When I made the decision, it was surreal. We spent the morning together. By then, we’d had many many midnight talks about afterlife journeys for little dogs. I kept looking at her that morning, wondering if she knew. In a quiet moment on the couch, I tried to explain. She just looked at me with love and trust. In the moment. Like every other day.
My friend came over to share with me the final couple of hours of my little one’s life. She has a gift with animals. An energy that calms them. I am so grateful she was there. I am also grateful for Rod and Kelly from Anvet. They came to my home to help my little one on to her next great adventure. It was very much in my thoughts how difficult this part of their job must be. They brought to the room a beautiful energy of respect and kindness. I will never forget it.
I held my baby and we gave her something to make her sleepy. I cradled her, thanked her and told her how much I loved her. She opened her eyes and we gazed at each other for a final moment, and I patted her gently until she took her final breath. It all panned out. My little dog died in my arms in our favourite chair. It was peaceful and calm. I believe it was the best death I could have offered her. She made her final journey by the light of a blue moon.
Rest in peace, my beautiful, beautiful girl. You will stay with me every day. I will never stop loving you.