“My dog is going to live forever…”
I remember Madison telling me this the day after Lizzie died in October of last year. I remember how I felt empathy…knowing that feeling that nothing could happen to take my dog away from me, that Lizzie and Reggie would not die. I used to tell myself that all the time because the thought of losing them and saying goodbye was just too painful to bear.
I’m sitting with Reggie in my lap, at 10:30 AM on February 1, 2019, and in 3 hours, Dr. Stoppe is coming to the house to put him to sleep.
My dog is not going to live forever. And I’m sitting here working up the strength to face it.
Yesterday, I took Reggie to the vet one last time because I just needed to do that. I needed, one more time, for her to tell me that it was time.
I will keep this brief this morning because I want to spend more time with Reggie and take him outside in the fresh air. There will be plenty of time to write, from now on, without him sitting in my lap here at Jittery Joe’s.
I asked Dr. Stoppe if it were her dog, if Reggie were her dog, would she let him go now. She said she would.
I asked her to take his blood to check his red blood cell count and it was normal. But, she showed me pictures/X-rays of Reggie’s lungs and colon in July 2017. The lungs were black in the radiograph: normal. So was the colon.
Now, in January, the colon showed signs of the tumor growing and the opening to his rectum getting smaller. And his lungs were filled up with white spots.
Without a biopsy they can’t be certain she said, but given the biopsy of the carcinoma and the likelihood of metastasis, she was 99% sure that those were cancer cells spreading in the lungs.
I think I must have asked her the same question, “Would you let him go tomorrow if Reggie were your dog?” at least 4 times. Maybe I needed it repeated to me to sink in.
She said if he kept excreting liquids, the only thing he could pass, I could give him one more week, or the weekend, and check him Monday, but when I asked if she thought it would be more than a week before it became high risk, and/or he began to suffer, she did not feel it would be more than a week.
She said that when she was a tech, a veterinarian once told her that she’d rather let her dog go two weeks too early than one day too late. At the time, Dr. Stoppe thought that sounded terrible, but now, as a vet, she thinks that it often is better to let them go when they are having more good days than bad days, still, than to wait for the worst days.
Reggie is declining quickly, she told me, but she could not give me an exact timeline. Only what she would do, and what she thought was best for him, given the decline in his quality of life.
He’s still eating, he’s still walking, he’s still responsive to petting and affection, and alert.
This is hell.
If I had an Xray with my lungs filled with tumors growing and one in my colon, with a risk of perforation, I would want my mom to let me go, and I try to think about that. Not being selfish is hard at a time like this.
I told her to keep our appointment to come over and put him to sleep.
I asked her to take Reggie in the back to say goodbye to everyone, since he wouldn’t be back at Hope again. At least, not until she brings him back today after he’s gone.
Morgan at the front desk came up as we checked out and told me no charge for the visit or bloodwork. They are amazing, they didn’t have to do that.
She gave me a hug and told me I could come visit them anytime, and I thanked her for all they had done for me and the dogs. Morgan walked around the front counter and came up to Reggie, leaned down, and fighting back tears, like me, pet him and said what a good dog he is, and what a good boy he is, and then she said, “You’re going to see your sister soon, you’ll like that, you’ve missed her.”
I took Reggie to Barnes and Noble to the Read-In after that and everyone was so happy to see him, and he was happy to see them. His daddy came to the store to see him after it was over and I let Audie spend a lot of time walking him around the store, in the stroller, mostly by himself. I sat with them for a short time, but it was painful, and I know I did the right thing for them, but…it was extremely painful. Still, we decided on two urns and two paw prints, like we did with Lizzie. I have to follow up on that with Mr. Meyers at the Memory Garden, he was so kind on the phone. He is wonderful, and made me feel cared about, just like he did with Toby.
Toby went to sleep on his dog bed, on the purple cushion. I plan to do the same for Reggie. He was shaking and nervous at the vet yesterday. That’s why I want to let him go at home, so he won’t go through that. So his last memory will be in his home, where he feels safe, and comforted.
I do not know how to look at life ahead. When I woke up this morning, Reggie was in Lizzie’s dog bed, in the bedroom. I feel his chest heaving up and down against my stomach and my legs. He’s such a part of me now, and I hope someday, like the poem says, I will see all three of my dogs again…
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….