Sorry, been staring at the walls for a couple of weeks (month). Where were we…oh yes
Let Me Know When You’re Ready
I took Bailey to the vet last summer for a check up. His heart and lungs sounded good and he still had muscle in his back legs but did have arthritis. I don’t want to keep him in pain I said, but he still asks to go for (very short) walks and jumps onto my high bed. “When he stops climbing the stairs, its time”, vet said.
Then one Sunday afternoon in late November I was upstairs and heard him fall down them. I lifted him (some special She-Ra strength from somewhere) onto the sofa and sat on the floor. “Let me know when you’re ready” I said, holding back tears as I looked into his sad eyes. And with that he put his paw on my wrist. No! No, no, no no! That was coincidence! He was reacting to the emotion in my voice! (De Nile is not just a river in Egypt). Straight into it – but he can still play with his ball! Admittedly sitting down but he still wants to go for a walk! He’s still eating! He gets strokes and love 24 hours a day!
Out came the airbed which I’d bought a few years back in preparation for this day. Time to sleep downstairs with him. When I bought the airbed he wasn’t sleeping on top of me as he did in last few years. He had to be touching me. Possibly blind and definitely a bit deaf (bonus no fireworks terror) so wanted the security I guess. He always did have separation anxiety. He only started sleeping on my bed the last couple of years, usually content with his own on floor next to me. I wish he’d always slept on my bed. It was bloody lovely waking up with him in the crook of my arm snuggling under my neck. So why did I buy a single airbed and not a double?! Didn’t think it through, did I!
Over Christmas he started to struggle standing up. I took him to the vet on a Monday, arranged for them to euthanise at home on the Friday. Don’t know if you’ve ever done this but again, did not think it through. Those few days KNOWING he would be gone on the Friday were heart breaking. I was 19 when I lost childhood black lab. Same age as Sophie losing hers.
Sophie took a day off work on the Thursday and snuggled him all day long. Every time I went into the kitchen I came back with a gravy bone/treat.
That night I brought the mattress down from my bed so the three of us could sleep together (WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT BEFORE?!). Sophie never slept. Every time I woke she was stroking him.
Friday morning felt like a year. The vet was coming between 11.30am and 12pm. We led there in silence, our three faces nearly touching and then I broke it with “shall we get him stuffed?” “Whaaaat?! Ohmygod NO!” and we started laughing. First time all week I think!
The vets came at a minute to twelve. Explained the procedure. Said his bowels would empty afterwards so they put down a sheet. Sophie and I looked at each other and did a telepathic ohmygod we’ve been stuffing him with food the last few days! He didn’t even look up. Usually he’d pester anyone who came to the house with his ball. I think he knew. They shaved his leg and he didn’t bat an eyelid. “Are you ready?” the vet said. “Are you ready?” I said to Sophie. “Yes”.
And he passed, doing what he loved, snuggled into both of us chomping on a gravy bone.
They left the house and you could feel the massive energy that left the room. Our tiny house suddenly looked massive. We hugged and Sophie said she was taking a shower. I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and if you know me you’ll know that’s definitely not my go to! But I had to keep busy.
Pen had offered the day before to drop us a takeaway around in the evening, bless him. I didn’t think I’d be hungry but I was. He asked how we were and neither of us could answer. All I could reply to condolence messages was “thank you”. There really are no words to describe the loss of a beloved dog. He was everything to us. Always the three of us.
I guess asking for a sign to let you know he’s okay and waiting for you is a normal grieving response. Please, I’d think, give me a sign, move something! You’ll never guess (or probably believe) what happened two days ago. I’ll tell you in part 3.