First, The Bad News
I should write 3 of these posts. But, I can’t bring myself to. Even now. This is a big part of the reason why I stayed away. I avoided you once due to news like this. When the news compounded, I just couldn’t face it. Not here for some reason. Our cast of characters has changed, drastically. A change that I still, months later, haven’t quite come to terms with. Putting it up here for the world to see, seems to make it even more permanent. And how can that be? How is it possible that my dogs have left me?
I knew I had a house of old dogs. Really, I did. I’d written about it again and again for goodness sake! What I didn’t know was that it would all hit us all at once. That our banner year of ‘Hello!’ to our son, would be tempered by devastating, reluctant, terrible, terrible goodbyes.
I lost my girls.
I write about them together, because they just always were. Separated for perhaps 2 weeks their entire lives. They weren’t clingy, co-dependent litter mates. They were capable of going on walks and enjoying activities without their sister. But, they were just 2 parts of a whole. After Hugo, I held onto them, perhaps too long. Focused on keeping us all together for one last Christmas. The girls were severely mobility challenged. Winnabelle couldn’t walk for long distances. Those limitations distressed a dog who was always so strong and confident. They were both mostly incontinent. And what finally pushed me to make the call was Abbey losing touch mentally. It pained me to see a dog always so close to my soul, going so far away when she was still right here. But, how could I send one without the other? And who would I send first? And what would that put the other girl through?
I couldn’t. I didn’t. In early January we opted for in-home euthanasia for both girls. Side by side. While our baby slept. In our living room. They left snuggled, warm and cozy in the dog beds they loved so much. They would have been 14 in March.
But, the hits don’t stop.
I love all my dogs. Losing them has highlighted some of the differences in that love that I wasn’t aware of before. And Hannah… oh man. I keep using this word: Devastating. Its just the only word. Devastating. Devastated. When the Springers left, Hannah as already not in the best way physically. She was suffering from spondylosis (arthritis in the spine), causing her problems with front end mobility and rear end control. We’d been holding off the progression with acupuncture and herbs. I started adding traditional pain meds and anti-inflammatories. We were losing the battle. But redoubled our efforts. More needles (the good kind), tweaking drugs, changing supplements. Whatever I could do to buy us time. And I did. For about 6 weeks, she was there for me after A&W left. I’m not sure that it was actually anything I did. More just that she knew how much I needed her.
We were peas and carrots. I kept her with me as much as possible. But, she just couldn’t do it for long. Her front legs essentially fused, making it increasingly difficult to lay down or get up on her own. The pain became more difficult to manage. Drugs that used to knock her for a loop, now did not. She became less of herself. Less present. It was time. I fought this one. I raged. This dog. My agility dog. My bossy boots girl. The dog that taught me so much. She trusted me so implicitly. How could I do this thing? This was the pickle on my shit sandwich of dog loss. After everything we’d been through, to say goodbye to her too just seemed like too much.
But, I did. We did. In April. I still sort of can’t believe it. I look for her. I think of her. All of them really. Even Ford, who was on borrowed time from day one.
And, that’s the story of how I lost 5 dogs in one year.