2003 - 2017

The first thing I noticed was the silence.

For fourteen years, there was a squeal every time I approached the door. Every time I said, wanna go outside? Let's go potty! Let's go to bed! Or when I turned on the hot water and picked up the food dishes.  Am I heading down the hallway?  Then there's the click-clack of her rapid little legs, the head of my canine parade.  A head peeking around doorways and shoved into my lap and giving no shits about what I was doing, so long as part of that was giving her attention.

Whining if we slept in too long and she was beyond ready to start her day.  Whining if I had a particularly good treat in my hand and was taking far too long to give it.  Whining as I asked for sit and she offered lay and roll over, too much enthusiasm for pleasing.  I've never known a dog so vocal - now the other two don't make a sound.

There were dances at my feet. There was a unique zest for life every morning. An absolute joy to get up and to wait for me to open the bedroom door.  Thrilled that I was home from work - so thrilled that if a toy couldn't be found to dance with, a sock or a scrap of paper would do.

They say that a dog is a reflection of yourself, that they share the best parts of yourself. 

Scarlette wasn't that. Scarlette was everything that I lacked. The only thing we shared was that we were both so horribly neurotic, so anxious.  But Scarlette lived with an enthusiasm for the day that I will never, ever be able to compare to.

The second thing I noticed was the smell.

It should disgust me that my house, my car, my bedroom floor, my fucking nostrils reeked of blood.  But it doesn't.  It reassures me that we fought, we lost, but that she isn't suffering any more.  That I made the right decision.

Towels soaking in cold water, washing, washing, washing blood off the brick floors.  Becoming immune to lifting her up to standing and having my arm, my wrist, my hand smeared.  Cleaning the white cabinets that she bumped into when she decided she wanted to walk herself outside.  All the fluids we'd pumped into her leaking from a hole we couldn't close.

The third thing I noticed was the guilt.

Rapid staccato in my head:  was this my fault?  did I fail her?  was this my fault?  did i fail her?

The burden weighs on me because I made every decision.  Ultimately, I decided her fate.  Should I have done the surgery back in March?  Would I have then blamed the loss of my baby on her surgery and recovery?  Would the surgery have even worked?  Would she have been given months or years?  When I took her in for her infection on the third, I decided that we would finally pursue surgery and was given the choice of the 7th or the 14th.  If I'd chosen the 7th, would she still be alive?  She crashed on the 8th.

That Thursday kills me, too.  I kept everyone locked up in the morning and drove home on my lunch break to let them out.  I made sure she went potty, brought her back in, and left the doggie door open - thinking that she hadn't mastered getting her e-collar through it, but that the other girls could still enjoy going outside.  I checked the kennel camera at 3:50 and everyone was inside laying together.  But when I got home at 5:30, she was outside and in distress.  Why'd I leave that door open?  Would she have been in distress regardless, or did the hour or so in the heat make it that much worse?  Did she increase the blood flow from the wound by finagling that crippled joint through the door?

At the emergency clinic that night, should I have pushed for more?  Demanded they try to staunch the blood loss from the tumor?  Sure, give her buprenex and cernia, but what about fluids?  Why didn't I demand fluids?  Or was I cruel for not letting her go then?

Up all night with her - laying on the floor next to her, comforting her as she made the most heart-wrenching howls.  Why wasn't she getting better?  Should I have taken her back to the e-clinic?  Why'd I wait until the next morning to take her in again?

All day there Friday and Friday night, she's the same.  D grilled her a filet mignon, which she turned her nose at.  Savannah licked her face and laid beside her.  She hobbled outside once, drank water three times and tinkled three times.  But the blood.  Sleeping on the couch beside her.  Watching old movies because I'm horrified she'll stop breathing if I go to sleep.  Scrubbing the floors in the middle of the night because she wanted to lay on the brick instead of the bed and I was worried about blood stains on the grout.

Carrying her, again, to my car, and, again, into a clinic.  And finally, outside to a patch of grass in the sunlight, where we could say good-bye.  Savannah was there and they were both scratched and petted and Scarlette let go, draped across my lap.

But it's so quiet now.

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  1. Words will never be enough. :( *hugs*

  2. It's just so hard when they have to go.
    Keeping you in my thoughts <3

  3. This is beautiful, relatable and so sad. Damn girl. I know you're devastated now, and I can feel the hurt in this but it's damn fine writing. That's the first impression I got, and the second is how sorry I am.

  4. Oh lady, I am so sorry. Sitting with you here in Ohio.

  5. Sorry to hear this, Beka. :( Losing a dog is so hard.

  6. I am so sorry. I believe you did everything right by her but my god it will always hurt. I'm so sorry.

  7. I'm so sorry :( She obviously had a great life with a wonderful family and it's clear you would have done anything to help her. Animals are so good at breaking our heart, it's not fair that we always outlive them.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss and so in awe of how beautifully you were able to write about it.

  9. All day, every day, I watch people make choices about their pet's health and their pets lives. Sometimes the choices are heartbreaking and I can see the pain in their faces, even though it's the right choice. The owners often suffer far more than their pets. You know your dog, and you made a thoughtful, reasoned decision back in March not to go to surgery. I know it's so much easier said than done, but don't beat yourself over that, not when you were making a decision based on what you knew was best for her. Even if you had done the surgery back in March, you know there are no guarantees. Just last week, I watched someone make the difficult decision for their pet to go to surgery and we still couldn't save her. That person made the best decision she could for her pet and you did for your girl. Don't forget that. Dogs live such short lives. It's all about the now. You did everything you could to make her "now" a wonderful, happy one. Find some comfort in that.

  10. You've had more than your share of loss to deal with. It's unfair - I'm so sorry.

  11. It's hard to let them go and then wonder 'what if'. You loved her for her whole life and made your final decisions with love. We should all be so lucky.

  12. You made the best decisions you could and they were 100% the correct ones, each of them, big and small, because they were each made from your great love for her. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

  13. You did all you did out of love and I'm absolutely certain she knew that. I'm so, so very sorry for your loss. <3 <3

  14. My heart hurts for all you've been through lately. I am so sorry for your loss and pain.

    When I found my dog at heap at the bottom of stairs, in shock from being mauled by a friend's dog, I scooped her up, 50 lbs, and rushed her to the vet. There was blood all over my shirt. She made it, but I set the shirt aside and haven't washed it. It is too intense for me to look at. But I can't throw it out either.

  15. I'm so so sorry. You made the right decision. Hoping there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you, and that hopefully some Whiskey hugs give you a little peace.

  16. A heart-breaking post. Everything has already been said. You loved her and did all the right things for her. She was happy and loved to the end. Don't go down the rabbit hole of what if. It won't change anything, so it's not worth it. I'm so sorry for your loss.