This afternoon I said goodbye to my wonderful old beagle-lab girl, Spotty. We adopted her from the local SPCA when she was about 8 weeks old and when my sons were just little boys.
When Spotty was a couple of years old we adopted another puppy, Honey. They were good friends and loved to play together. As fierce as their play-fighting sometimes seemed (especially since Spotty was twice Honey’s size and weight), they really were best buds….
Spotty wasn’t quite sure what to make of all the funny-looking newcomers who came to live with us….
But she soon learned to share her house–and her bed….
She’d been declining over the last year. Her hearing–once so sharp–failed her first, but that was okay. Her eyesight wasn’t as good, but she could still catch a (milk)bone in her mouth when I tossed it in the air. She developed tumors, but they were benign and didn’t seem to cause her any pain or discomfort, and so that was okay, too.
But in the last couple of weeks, and then especially in the last couple of days, everything seemed to catch up with her and I was shocked at how quickly things were suddenly NOT okay. I knew I wouldn’t opt for “heroics” at her age and I also reminded myself that I’d told her, as a puppy, that I would always, always take care of her.
Yesterday when she refused all food–including bites of cheese, canned dog food, canned cat food, milk, deli ham–I knew we were into the end stage. Her eyes, dimmed some by cataracts, had changed and looked so tired and so sad. She was still trying to be such a “good girl” and this, more than anything else, nearly broke my heart….
Last night I couldn’t–and didn’t–sleep. With Spotty’s bed right beside my bed, I heard every sound she made. I knew what I had to do, but the thought of it was so terribly, terribly painful.
I called the vet this morning and made an appointment for this afternoon. I knew I wanted to stay with her if I could, but I’d never had to be the one to take a beloved furchild to the vet for one last visit, and I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I called a special friend and asked if she’d be willing to go with me. Kim always gets called for the tough jobs. Last December, the day after my uncle died, it was Kim who drove with me to his house to get his cat and take her to my mom.
Though lacking her former enthusiasm and sparkle, Spotty enjoyed being with us and going for a ride. We had to wait a while at the vet’s and so we wandered around outside, letting her slowly sniff here and sniff there.
When it was time to take her in, I was so thankful that she was totally calm and totally trusting. There was no fear–only acceptance. With the vet on one side of her and a vet tech on the other side, Kim and I stood in front of her, stroking her head and telling her what a good girl she was….
When I had puppies and little boys–instead of old dogs and young men–my dad would frequently come over to see us. Spotty loved my dad and he loved her, too. Sometimes they’d all play a game together: my dad would hide in the house and my boys would tell Spotty to “Go find Granddaddy!” And very quickly she’d use that half-beagle nose of hers to find him. She would bark with delight, turning and twisting, wagging her tail and grinning a big doggy grin, and my dad would say “Good girl, you found me!”
As the medicine started to enter her body and as she gently and oh so peacefully started to go to sleep, I whispered to her, “Go find Granddaddy!”
I have to hope, I have to believe that on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge tonight there’s excited, happy, healthy barking and my dad is saying “Good girl, you found me!”