Saying Goodbye to an Old Furry Friend: Making the Tough Choice…
This weekend my husband and I made the decision to have our 12 year old Labrador Lucy put down on Friday May 16th. Yes, I put an end date on her life. I am crying as I type and haven’t really stopped completely since we made that decision.
When I was young and a pet died, my parents always told me that it went to live on a farm. Anyone else remember hearing that? It seems to be a pretty common excuse as to why the pet isn’t around anymore.
I thought my pets would just live forever, chasing butterflies and drinking from babbling brooks.
We got Lucy as a little pup from a pet store in 2002. Josh and I were still newlyweds, sort of, having been married 3 years. We rented a little house in Los Gatos and knew we wanted a dog to enjoy.
Lucy has always been sort of a goofball. Her paws were too big for the rest of her body for the longest time. During her growth spurts her legs would sprout tall first, so she started looking a little like a giraffe. A goofy, clumsy giraffe. She finally grew into her 95 pound size but stayed in that “puppy-mode” for a full 5 years – chewing things up, jumping, and just wanting to constantly play.
We took her to obedience training. She failed miserably. So much so that she apparently became the fodder of conversation on “what not to do” with the trainer for years to come (I had several friends go to him for training their own pups).
She would eat the most random things – drinking cups, socks, glittery ornaments. Once she ate a remote control. Every time she would eat something she wasn’t supposed to we were convinced she was a goner until she passed or threw up the offending object and the vet couldn’t find anything else in her belly.
On my days off work (before kids), she and I would snuggle in my bed and sleep the day away. Her huge size and soft fur made a perfect pillow.
When the kids were born, she loved them. My god she adored them. they were her “little humans”. As they got older and wanted to play she would allow it, even though I saw she started to get tired faster and faster.
As she started getting older, we noticed little things – lumps and skin tags. The vet did test upon test. We were preparing for the worst. She always came back with “well, there’s nothing really wrong with her other than low iron”. After a couple of years of watching old lumps grow and new lumps form, we knew it was more serious. She began sleeping constantly. She would lick her lumps uncontrollably. She became incontinent. She started giving off a foul odor even after several baths. She spasmed in her sleep, but not the way dogs normally do. I know that she had tumors in her brain because of this. She has cancer now.
This year had been tough enough – my father-in-law passed from cancer on April 16th. We would have made the decision sooner about Lucy but couldn’t bear to after our loss. But after the funeral we knew. We knew she couldn’t continue suffering and we couldn’t put it off.
Oh gosh, I just realized it’s exactly a month from losing him and losing Lucy.
She knows. She knows her time is fleeting. She knows I love her so very much. She looks at me with these pleading eyes, asking me to end her suffering. She’s ok with it.
I am choosing to be with her for her final breaths. I want my face to be the last she sees and my voice to be the last she hears. A vet tech once said “Always stay with your pet, because when you leave they look for you”.
So there it is. We will be another down in my home. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Looks like my father-in-law will have a buddy in Heaven…