I was not going to blog about this. But every time I think of writing something else, it just comes back to me, and I thought I probably should blog it out of my system.
Some of you might remember how hard I found making the decision about having my old dog put to sleep.
It was almost impossible to even think about it. But time passed, and he got worse. And then a bit worse. And then he refused food for a few days, except for one slice of the Russian sausage. And anything that got consumed was quickly thrown back up again. He could not get up and did not want to go for walks.
And I realized that perhaps, it was, indeed, cruel and selfish to keep him alive and watch him struggle.
Realization and making the decision is one thing, but actually going through something like this is completely different. No matter how convinced I was in the end that it was the right thing to do... I still felt guilty. In hindsight, I think that the whole helping someone die is either something you strongly believe in, or not. My brain is telling me it was the best way for him to go, but my heart will probably always struggle to accept it easily.
In preparation for this horrible event, I looked for advice online, from thousands of other dog owners who had to go through the same experience. I came across some useful suggestions on how to cope with this sad moment. ‘Go to church and pray’. Er... maybe not for me. ‘Get another puppy before your old dog dies’ No way! Despite of all the affection I had for my old pet, I am actually pretty much done with having a dog. For a very, very long time.
It is funny though, how things that I thought I would enjoy once there is no dog in the house are the ones that now make me sad. Like the empty garden and the clean grass, nobody to rush back home to when we are out for the day, and the lack of paw prints on the wooden floors. The lack of noise. The lack of smells. The lack of a huge furry animal lying in the way when I try to open the dishwasher. These are the things I found the hardest. And the dreams about changing my mind. In those dreams he is a lot healthier and happier than he was, and I panic and think oh, no he is totally fine, what am I doing??? And then I wake up and remind myself that he was, of course, very ill.
And then, looking for someone to discuss this with, I turned to an old friend. I chose her because of many factors. She knows me well, for a very long time, and she is crazy about dogs. It is important to try not to discuss this situation with people who have never owned or liked animals. They will think you are mad, and very, very funny. Hilarious, in fact. Your sadness would cause endless amusement. So no, I could not discuss it it with people I was not sure would understand. But this friend, I thought, definitely would.
And, of course, she did. Only, she said something I would have never expected a good friend to say. I confessed to her, in an email, that I felt bad I could not bring myself to go to the vets. Poor husband had to do it. She replied that she would have been there till the end.
Of course, she added, she could not judge me, as she did not really know if she would manage to go. But she still thought I should have gone.
I am not going to go into details of how angry and upset that comment made me feel. How I tried, pointlessly, to explain to her, that sometimes, the truth is not what one needs from a close friend. She said I probably felt guilty for not going, and that was why her comment stung so much. But of course I felt guilty! I felt guilty for not going, for being so weak, I felt guilty for ever telling him off, for not walking him often enough, for not talking to him enough, for a lot of things I should or should not have done. Isn’t it what happens when someone you love dies, whether human or animal?
So, there I was. Could not rely on religion to convince myself that my dog is running happily in heaven, waiting for me to join him one day. Could not be comforted by going to a church or getting another puppy...And guess what? As it turned out, could not even get support from the one close friend I thought would be there for me. C'est la vie, eh. Shit happens.