Tuesday, October 22, 2013
We had to let Petey go three weeks ago yesterday. I still miss him, and I know I'll miss him for a long time. The memories aren't as piercing now. His absence doesn't loom so large and the silence is no longer deafening. Healing is happening.
As I was eating lunch today, I decided that I didn't really want the last couple of bites. Three weeks ago, a little white dog would have been watching my every bite and I would have handed him nibbles all along. I would have given him those last couple of bites as well. It made me sad to toss it in the trash instead. Nevermind that the odds were pretty good, I would have wound up doing that anyway because it was hard to know if Petey would take table scraps or not.
Little stuff like that pops up all of the time. At least now, I don't cry about it, at least not every time, or as much. There are two times that I miss Petey the most and it is going to take longer for me to get over. Those two times are when I leave the house and when I come home.
Long time readers will remember Petey's very strict rules. All Petey rules were very strict! One of them was about leaving the house. Simply put, don't do it. If however it is unavoidable, do it only once per day. Coming & going, particularly in rapid succession were just not tolerated well. Heaven forbid, that we get to the car and realize we left something inside. We'd actually discuss if we really, really needed it and if so, who had to go inside and get it.
Once I started working from home, I tried to limit myself to one trip per day still, trying to pile up all my errands in to one trip. I'd sneak out while he was asleep and leave treats in the kitchen floor for him. I hoped that would make up for the fact that he didn't find me when he woke up. If I left while he was awake, I'd tell him how long I'd be gone and give him a treat. Often he wouldn't take it because he knew what that meant. I guess he hoped that if he didn't take the treat I wouldn't leave.
Coming home is harder still than leaving. When Petey was in his prime, we'd be greeted with the Petey Dance. He was just so glad to see us that he couldn't keep still. He'd have been waiting on the back of the couch where he could see out the front window. He'd race to the kitchen door the minute he saw the car and prance around excitedly until we came in. It felt good to be so loved and welcomed. As he got older, he didn't greet us at the door so much and his hips didn't allow for much dancing, but he always was obviously glad we were home.
On the drive home from wherever, even a quick trip to the store, my mind would always be casting ahead to what Petey would need when I got home, or what he might have done in the house, or maybe he was still asleep and didn't know I'd gone. My first thoughts were always of him.
For 12+ years, my mind headed that way. It will take a while to retrain my thinking. That's OK. I like remembering Petey. In time, I'll smile more at the memories rather than cry.
Friday, October 4, 2013
This post is for me. I want to get the memories down while they are still fresh. I've waited until now because it hurt too much to relive the experience. I want to document the final chapter in Petey's life, even if I never read it again.
John came home from work about 12:30. He wanted to spend some time with Pete before the vet was schedule to arrive at 4:00. I was anticipating a gut wrenching afternoon. It was. We told Petey again and again that the doctor was coming and she would help him out of all his pain. It gave us time to discuss what of Petey's we wanted to keep as mementos of his life and what we wanted to donate. Even though we agreed to get rid of his beds, I left them right where they were until he was buried. I didn't want to risk him seeing his beds gone and get upset like he always did when I decided it was time to wash them.
It was clear that the medication for his back legs wasn't getting the job done anymore. I'd already doubled the vet's dosage, no longer fearing kidney failure or liver damage. Even with that, it took several tries for him to stand and walking was an iffy proposition. He had little control over those back legs so he wasn't steering so well. John was convinced that he was deaf. I admited that his hearing had diminished, but I still contended he had selective hearing. In the last few weeks, he'd become night blind. We were having to leave lights on in the house at night so he could see to get to his water bowl. Between the night blindness and the bad back legs he was a hazard to himself at night in the dark. We were up with him a good bit, much like parents of a newborn.
As we would tell Petey that this was for his own good, we were trying to convince ourselves as well as him. Petey was calm and took the news well. He licked my face as I cried. Maybe to comfort me, maybe the salt water tasted good. He was happy those last few hours. He had his two favorite people with him with 100% of our attention. It was what he loved the most.
We gave him all the bacon treats he could hold. He seemed to enjoy them again. (In recent weeks, he'd take or leave a treat when offered.) As I was eating a dark chocolate peanut butter granola thin, and holding Pete, he acted very interested in it, so I gave him a taste. He liked it and clearly wanted more. So, I fed him a whole one. Then I got another and gave it to John to feed him. Petey ate with gusto we hadn't seen in ages. It did the three of us good.
The vet's office called just before 4:00 and offered cremation services which we declined. The vet arrived promptly at 4:00 and I just lost it. We were all outside enjoying the lovely afternoon and I knew when I saw the car that this was it. John was holding Petey and Petey began to bark like he hadn't barked in ages. (At our yard sale just a few weeks ago, he was quite docile and let strangers touch him.) The Petey that prompted the start of this blog was back. The vet was kind and compassionate and hugged me.
We all went in to the house. I held Petey like a baby up on my shoulder while John signed the necessary paperwork. John sat by me on the couch and the vet knelt in front of us and administered the first dose of medicine. This was just to help him relax and go to sleep. In typical Petey fashion, he fought it. He tried to keep those eyes open. I handed him to John.
John held him up on his chest like a baby too. He had his left hand on Petey and his right arm around me. I rested my head on John's chest with my face next to Pete's. I had my right hand on Petey and my left under John. I cried unashamedly, as Petey closed his eyes for the last time. The vet went in to the other room to give us time alone.
When she came back into the room to give him the lethal dose, Petey's eyes eased back open. I think he was already gone then. I think his little body was so fragile, that the sedative took him. At the time, however, I thought he wasn't quite asleep and asked the vet to wait for him to close his eyes again. She told me that it was OK, that he was relaxed. She gave him the last injection and within just a few seconds checked his heart and it was no longer beating.
She kindly stayed with us a while. When she left she gave us a burial bag for him. We took him to an undisclosed location and buried him. I was strangely emotion free by then. I was hollow. We buried him with what remained of his beloved green ring and a bacon treat. We marked the spot, even though I knew I'd never come back to that spot of ground to talk to Petey. It is not my style. I don't want to think of Petey there.
I think of Petey every morning when I get up and his yellow blanket isn't beside the bed. I think of him all day long as I work and he isn't on the discarded mattress pad, or isn't following me from room to room as I move about the house. I think of Petey when I walk in the front room, where he used to go pout when the baby arrived. I think of Petey when we are watching TV and night and he's not on his pillow in the floor supervising us, or angling to go out once it gets dark, or herding us off to bed. I think of him when we actually turn off the lights at bedtime rather than turning them on. I think of him when I come home and he's not there to greet us and I don't have to look for pee in the floor. (Petey did pee in the floor right in front of John and me one last time Monday afternoon!)
Petey's old worn out little body will return to the earth, but his memories will live in our hearts forever. In time, the memories will make us smile and laugh rather than prick our hearts. We had a good run with Petey. I have no doubt we made his life better when he came to live with us. But, Petey made our lives much richer and fuller. I think we got the better end of the bargain.