Unprepared 20/31 #SOL2023

I was expecting the text and photo around the time they arrived, but I wasn’t expecting my reaction. I knew it would be evidence of the gentle passing of our twelve year old Apricot Standard Poodle, Fergie (nod to the Duchess) and I thought the planning would leave me prepared.

Her physical deterioration had began six months prior. We noticed a diminishing, typical of age. We took her on the ususal walks which gradually slowed until one day she started limping. Just her right leg, but it was clear that she was in pain. We speculated: a pulled muscle? Maybe it happened at the dog park during a ball throwing session? Maybe she got a bit too enthusiastic for her age?

So, we shortened the walks, and threw the ball less frequently. But, nothing worked.

The vet took xrays and delivered the news. “I’m so sorry, but it’s bone cancer. Advanced too. It’s really spread.” We talked about options, but the way forward was clear. Amputation was not an option. We did not want her to suffer. A date for euthenasia was planned.

Then remarkably, she improved and as the scheduled day neared, we felt like we were putting our seemingly healthy dog to sleep prematurely. We cancelled promptly, and continued enjoying our senior dog and her new little brother.

That is, until her second last day. (I still shudder a bit with the memory, full of guilt about her ending.)

A few weeks after we canceled the vet visit. Duke, the puppy, jumped down from the sofa and Fergie followed. I saw her jump, tail up and wagging, and I saw her fall, suddenly seeming to break in two. Her back fractured in the middle and her tail end dropped to the floor. Eyes filled with panic darted up at me as she struggled to right herself.

Her hind end was paralyzed.

The shock of the moment gave us strength to lift her weighty body from the floor to her soft bed and we comforted her as she panted anxiously. George rushed to call the vet, but it was late, too late for immediate action, so she would need to spend the night on her bed sleeping away from us for the first time in her life. The emergency line took our call and the euthenasia was planned for the next day.

I rose and dressed for school, knowing that George would be taking her to the vet while I was teaching. I kissed her where she lay, exactly where we had placed her the night before. I was going to work, so I prepared and left without crying.

“Text me to let me know when she’s gone. I want to know she is no longer in pain.”

Then the picture arrived. George mustering a smile through tears, Fergie looking longingly up into his eyes for reassurance.

I was expecting it.

I thought I was prepared.

But even writing about this now, I realize we can never be prepared to lose what we have loved.

7 thoughts on “Unprepared 20/31 #SOL2023

  1. This is heartbreaking! Losing pets is very painful emotionally. I don’t think we are ever really ready, even when we know it is the right thing! My daughter wanted to be there when we said goodbye to our cat last year, but my son sat in the car by himself, unable to face the inevitable. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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