Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

In the Garden (Coping with losing a pet)

Early gardening season is usually one of my favorite times of the year.  This year, I'm tending the flowers with a heavy heart.

There haven't been any posts for several weeks for a reason.  The advancing years began taking their toll on our beloved dog this past winter when she had to have a large cyst removed from her side, and it returned a few months later.  She turned 16 in March, and then things really began taking a turn for the worse a few weeks ago.

Our home turned into a doggy hospice, and my evenings were spent taking care of her.  She had numerous, ugly cysts that would break open.  We'd patch her up with extra large gauze pads and tried to secure them with ace bandages.  She lost control of her bladder so we attempted diapers.  I bought two types of steam cleaners and cleaned the carpets every night.

Deep down, we knew what was inevitable.  We didn't want to find ourselves faced with making that hard decision, but we were concerned about suffering.  She looked terrible, but her spirits seemed good.  Then she stopped eating her dog food.  I'd whisper to her while she was sleeping that if she saw a sparkly rabbit in her dreams, and he was running over that rainbow bridge, it was OK if she wanted to chase him.

Just run and don't look back.  

Either he didn't appear in her dreams, or she didn't listen to me.  She was like that.  One day, I came home from work, and it was obvious she hadn't moved for hours.  While I cleaned her, my husband called.  He said he had a bad feeling and was coming home early.

She couldn't get up on her own anymore.  We discovered a large lump on a hind leg that was obviously causing her pain, and the next morning, the entire leg had doubled in size.  Once we lifted her, she struggled to walk.  There was a phone call to the vet.  We gave her the best final hours we could.  We carried her outside and spent the afternoon sitting in the grass with her under the maple tree until it was time...

I had a hard time working in the garden this year.  I knew there was cleaning, weeding, planting, and mulching to do.  But my garden companion was missing, trotting along the parameter and running to the back door whenever I turned on the water.  I finally made myself get outside and get to work.  It was tough at first, but it is slowly getting easier.

I keep finding her old tennis balls in the flower beds, and I'm just going to leave them there.  I can't bring myself to clean her nose prints off the front door either.  Not yet.