Caregiver · Dogs · Grief

Grief / August 14, 2006

I lost one of the joys of my life today: my collie Dustin. I’m still overcome with grief, even though I had been trying to prepare myself for this day. Oddly, I felt relieved to release him from his suffering, which had been short. His breathing has worsened overnight and by morning he was intubated. The vet I spoke to this morning said it was probably pneumonia–he may have aspirated some of what he’d thrown up. I remembered his distress as I’d driven him to the hospital–on top of the nerve damage his lungs had been rattling. I told her I’d come down immediately when she assessed his condition as critical.

My sister came with me, thank God. We stroked and kissed him for awhile before we were ready to let him go. I had my arms around him as the vet administered the injection, and I felt his heart settle down as his spirit flew away.

On the way home I remembered a dream I’d had the night before he got sick. In it, he was healthy, but he said to me: “Why did you do this to me?” I look at it now as his way of telling me that keeping him alive would not have been right. I rerun the past two days obsessively, wondering if I could have prevented this–did I aggravate it by not taking him to the hospital first thing Sunday morning? I know that time will dull the pain but right now it’s tough.

On Saturday night, when he was fine, I decided to go outside to look for the Perseid meteor shower. Dustin didn’t want to go outside, and he didn’t want me to go out, either. He stood in the door and watched me as I watched the sky, then he barked a few times to hurry me along. He was a real talker. When I came back in I went into the kitchen for a drink and, on impulse, I crouched down and opened my arms. He came over and buried his head in my shoulder and I hugged him a good long time, rubbing his beautiful fur and kissing his long nose. Good-bye, my Dustin-sweetie.

I’m glad I let him go but losing all that joy is going to be a hard fact to face.

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