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Saying Goodbye

Yesterday afternoon, I received a text from the Mr. saying that I needed to get Aubie into the vet.  I texted back asking if it was about her leg, which had a terrible sore from the laying around she’d been doing the last two months.  He asked me to call him.

He told me that she hadn’t eaten much breakfast and that she had fallen when she’d gone outside to potty.  He wanted an overall assessment.  He also wanted the vet to tell us how much pain Aubie was actually feeling.

Sigh.

The vet, despite being very, very busy, fit us in at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, I went home to spend some time with Aubie…

She was, as usual, in her prone position.

She’d been sleeping 90% of the time lately and found it difficult to sit up for long stretches of time.

She did love the extra attention she was getting though.

We put her in the car, hoping that the vet wouldn’t say what we suspected she might say.  Aubie seemed to enjoy the drive…

We kept her in the car while a sick, contagious dog was treated inside.

I snapped more photos…

These last two are my favorite…

Then, it was time to go in.

She nearly fell as she walked to the room, so the Mr. carried her in, where the staff had placed a large, thick towel on the floor for her.

The vet came in, asked various questions, and told us that Aubie was much worse than the last time she’d seen her…about a month ago.

We asked hard questions…

Was Aubie in a lot of pain?

The vet said that although she was on pain meds, they didn’t take all of the pain away.

We expressed concern about her recent unwillingness to eat.

The vet offered to put her on medication to stimulate hunger.

Aubie also needed to be on antibiotics for the sore on her leg.

And then we asked the toughest question of all…

Would Aubie ever get better?

The vet sadly shook her head and said no.

We asked her what she would do if Aubie was her dog, and the vet said she would be merciful and end her suffering.

Oh the tears we shed.

The vet stepped out so we could call the kids.  We were only able to reach Rooster, who told us to do what was best for Aubie.

We didn’t want to make the decision to end Aubie’s life, but we had seen her discomfort increase exponentially in the last couple of weeks.

Aubie had snapped at me a few days ago when I tried to get her into a more comfortable position.  She had only done it because she was in pain, this I’m sure of.  She had the sweetest disposition of any dog I’ve ever come across.

The angst one goes through when making this decision was agonizing.

Was it selfish of us to hold on?

Did we have the right to terminate her life?

In the end, we had to make the decision that was best for Aubie, not for us.

Despite the pain of our hearts being shredded apart, we chose to ease her suffering.

Before the vet returned, we laid hands on Aubie, and I prayed, thanking God for blessing us with this amazing dog.  I prayed that Aubie’s passing would be gentle and that we would be reunited with her one day.

The vet cautioned that the first shot, which would put Aubie into a deep sleep, would be painful as it was administered, and that she would probably cry out.

She was stoic, though, and didn’t make a peep.

The vet told us that she wouldn’t close her eyes as she went to sleep.  The tech said that she’d never, in twenty years, seen a dog do this.

Before Aubie laid her head down, she licked us both…something she hadn’t done in many months.

Then she eased gently into sleep, closing her eyes as she went under.

We stroked her gently, whispering words of love and affirmation.

The vet returned and administered the final shot, then left to allow us time to be with Aubie in her last moments.

I cannot describe the feelings of sadness that fell upon us.

Memories invaded my mind…

  • Visiting the animal shelter in Broward County and having Aubie brought into the visiting room.
  • Watching her lick Rooster’s ear after he slammed it in the door, then returning to the Mr.’s side. (We knew she was the dog for us after she did this.)
  • Walking her to the kids’ elementary school the day she came home (she had to get fixed first).
  • Having her follow me up the stairs the first day we were home by ourselves together (I was a stay-at-home mom).  She was very protective.
  • Chasing after her in the car when she escaped to a neighborhood down the street and watching her look over her shoulder as she refused to get in the car.
  • Watching her be sprayed with a garden hose when she entered, uninvited, one of the neighbor’s yard.
  • Watching Chicky dance with Aubie while singing to Shania.
  • Visiting Aubie when Grand Pooba and Coupon Queen took care of her while we were building our house.
  • Watching the kids chase her across the yard, in full pursuit of the ball that Aubie refused to give up.
  • Listening to stories of Aubie sneaking up the in-law’s stairs and licking chocolate off of a birthday cake.  She was incredibly stubborn and mischievous.
  • Bringing Aubie to our newly built home and letting her loose in our recently fenced in yard.  She thought she was in heaven!
  • Listening to Aubie’s deep gutteral, yet playful growl when she was teaching the other dogs how to properly wrestle.  She knew the fine art of pinning down her opponent!
  • Watching the kids say goodbye before they left from their Easter visit.  Bittersweet.
  • Watching the Mr. pick her up and carry her outside to potty when her legs failed her.

All of these memories flashed through my mind every so quickly but with deep feelings nonetheless.

I’m sobbing as I type this.

The vet returned and listened for a heartbeat, confirming that Aubie was gone.

I didn’t want to leave.

I loved on Aubie a few minutes longer, deep cries of loss escaping unbidden from the deepest places in my heart.

Despite having had a long day, the vet and her staff epitomized tenderness and empathy, allowing me the time I needed to say goodbye.

And we returned home…

Without our girl…

Where her bed lies empty…

I know that loss is a part of life, but if I may be blunt, it really sucks.

I will grieve.  I will cry…a lot.

But I will, in the end, choose to be grateful for the blessing of having Aubie in our family for all of these years.

If I could leave a message to Aubie, it would be this…

Aubie,

Thank you for choosing us, for that is what you did that day in the animal shelter.

Thank you for being loyal.  Whenever you escaped, you always returned to us.

Thank you for loving us, even when we added brothers and sisters to the mix.

Thank you for forgiving me when I lavished attention on the newly added pups.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to love an animal without abandon.

Taking care of you in your last weeks was an honor.  I know you didn’t want to let go of life, but you did it with grace. 

You are irreplaceable.  Your memory will live on in the stories we will tell and the feelings of tenderness that will remain in my heart.

I love you, Princess Pretty Feet.

Love,

Mama

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