On Tuesday this past week, my husband and I did one of the hardest things to date. We brought our beloved dog, Tinkerbell, to the vet to be put to sleep.
Tink’s health has slowly been declining over the last 6 weeks or so. It started with diarrhea that wouldn’t go away and progressed to refusing to eat, even her favorite things she wouldn’t touch. Then it got to the point where she had stroke like episodes where she would collapse and lose consciousness. She would awake disoriented and shaky. After a few days of this, we had the very tearful talk deciding to end her suffering.
Those last few days were so emotional and I walked round red eyed with my throat tight. O and I took her for short walks around the yard. I kept her with me as much as I could, having her lay by me while O and I watched TV or played, taking her in the car with us no matter where we went, and in general just doing stuff at home to spend as much time with her as we could. We did her favorite things which included going to the park and letting kids pet her. We visited my family farm one last time and giving all those that loved her a chance to say goodbye.
The appointment was quick. They gave her a sedative to put her to sleep then gave her the injection. It was only a few breaths after that and she was gone. We stayed with her the whole time, whispering to her that things would be better soon, that we would be okay without her guardianship, that we would miss her so very much, that we would never stop loving her. My husband and I cried shamelessly and I clutched the box they had put her in so we could transfer her back to our family farm to be buried.
We chose a spot that overlooks the driveway and swing sets near some lilac bushes. This is the best guard dog spot where she will be able to watch all the kids play and still keep an eye out for anything that could harm them. These spots were extremely important to Tink. My husband and I prepared her final resting spot together. The ground should have been soaked with our tears. After she was settled, I don’t know how long we sat there, sharing memories, already missing our wonderful dog.
The next day, I started the painful task of packing up her things. We are giving her toys to her dog friends. She was one of those dogs that never ruined her toys, she just liked to carry them around and snuggle with them. When she was younger she’d play fetch when she felt like it, but she treasured every one. I want to make a shadow box with her collar so I was browsing through pictures to use. This helped confirm our decision. She was a powerfully built dog with a beautiful shiny coat and rippling muscles. She was athletic and loved to play. Since her deterioration was slow, I didn’t notice how very sick she had become. As hard as it was to say good-bye, to make this decision instead of letting her die on her own, it was the right one. I had terrible doubts sitting in that room waiting for the vet to come in. Had we tried everything? Maybe she could bounce back still if we did something different or tried yet another new food? Waiting would have been selfish and I’m glad we went through with it.
For the first time in over 20 years, I’m not a dog owner. Right now, I don’t want to be if it’s not Tinkerbell. What I really want is my healthy dog back. I wanted her to help teach my son what it means to have a four-legged best friend. I wanted her to be there to watch over us for many more years. No other dog will do right now. It’s only been a few days, and I know things will get better. I won’t call for her to take her out. I won’t reach for her leash when O goes out to play. I won’t look for her water bowl to fill. But right now, I don’t want to be a dog owner.