It’s never easy to say goodbye to a pet.
Our furry friends have a special place in our hearts. They love us unconditionally, greet us when we come home from the day and don’t want anything from us except for love. When you feel like the world is against you, there’s nothing like the love from your pet to make you feel understood and cherished.
We just returned from an appointment at the veterinarians office where we had to make the difficult decision to put our dog, Ellie, to sleep. It was the right decision to make. She was an old and fully blind dachshund and a few nights ago she had a stroke. She was in pain and it was time.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel guilty. That doesn’t mean we don’t wish things could have been different.
“I don’t want to say goodbye,” my youngest daughter said when we told her we needed to take Ellie to the vet. She knew our dog wasn’t doing well and what was coming.
“I know you don’t,” I said, wiping the tears away from her cheeks. What were a few tears soon became justifiable sobbing that broke my heart. We talked about quality of life issues, unnecessary suffering and how sometimes we have to do what is right even though it’s hard.
Seeing her so sad was painful to watch.
It feels weird to put your dog into the car, drive to the vet and then not return with the animal. It’s strange how one moment your pet is alive and then in less than an hour, your pet isn’t. If you’ve ever been through this, you know it is peaceful and calm. The animal doesn’t suffer. As the drugs started kicking in, we were all there with Ellie, holding her and stroking her and telling her how much we loved her.
When I was in the sixth grade, my pet dachshund was hit by a car and instantly killed. It was sudden and shocking and for a week I cried. I remember sitting in class at school, crying uncontrollably, day after day.
It’s hard to lose a pet. It’s hard to let go.
When my dog was killed, I was angry at the man driving the car that hit my dog. I needed someone to blame for this unnecessary loss and the strange man carrying my dog into our house and asking for a laundry basked seemed to be the appropriate person. It felt easier to have someone to blame for the death rather than just accepting “these things happen.”
Not until now, did I fully appreciate the courage of the stranger. He came into our house, held our pet and took full responsibility for hitting our dog.
He did the right thing.
I know it wasn’t easy because I was there sobbing. My parents weren’t home and he was forced to deal with two upset and crying children. Being on the adult side of things now, I see how difficult it must have been for him and how nice he was to try and help us. He didn’t mean to hit our dog with his car. It just happened.
Letting go of someone or something you love is hard. It doesn’t matter who or what it is. It’s sad and heart-wrenching.
The fact that we actively made the decision to put our dog to sleep, in someways, made it harder. While we couldn’t control the state of our dog or her deterioration, we put her into the car, we drove her to the vet, we allowed this to happen.
I hope one day my daughter will understand how difficult this decision was for all of us, make peace with what we did and understand when you love something, sometimes you have to let it go.
While it’s hard to love and lose, to live and not fully love wouldn’t really be living. We’d be going through the motions of life, and in the end, that wouldn’t do us any good.
Want more? Dara is an inspirational writer and speaker and you can read more at her blog, Crazy Perfect Life.