The Last Goodbye is Always the Hardest
To my dear sweet old boy,
I’m so sorry. This wasn’t how I wanted it to end. Not at all.
Letting you into my life, it was such an easy decision.
Letting you go though was so hard to do.
In the course of a month, I watched you go from my peppy, sun lounging, always happy to see me, old man to an old boy who was struggling so hard to breathe and who could barely enjoy anything he once had. You could no longer sleep in the bedroom, you had to be relegated to the kitchen where you were unhappy every night. There were so many nights there near the end where I would hear you coughing and I would slip from my bed and go sit with you until you fell back asleep. I listened to you struggling to breathe as I sat there petting you in those early hours of the morning and I knew we didn’t have long together.
What we had originally thought was just your normal summer allergies turned out to be so much more. So much worse. Before I could blink, you had been placed on more medicine, medicine that would drain the fluid from your lungs and hopefully make the time you had left with us easier. And it did for a little while, but the time came when I couldn’t deny it any longer. You were fading and there was nothing more I could do about it.
We had been through so much together, you and I. You’ve been there though almost every part of my life that I could remember and the thought that you wouldn’t be there to share in the future was a hard fact to face. We were together for 14 wonderful years, more than half of my life. Selfishly, I wished for more time but knew that there was so little left to share. So, I treasured every one of those moments with you there at night, petting your soft little ears, stroking your side when you had to struggle for air, and listened to the thump of your tail as you wagged it for me while lying there.
Old boy, you’ve never made my life easy, nor any of the choices I’ve made that involved you. From goofs at State Fair, taking off and doing the Dizzy Wizzy in the Agility ring during an otherwise clear run, stubbornly refusing to move beyond Pre-Novice for 4 years, and the list goes on. Yet, I had hoped that for once, you would make this last choice the easy one. It was not to be so. You stubbornly clung to life, true to your terrier nature. I would come home, sure to find you wheezing only to have you run with your old vim and vigor to greet me at the gate with the little one, tail wagging, and quietly woofing at me. As this cycle continued and you continued to get worse, I knew that the final choice rested on my shoulders.
So the date and hour was set.
I took the plaster print of your paw print and treasured the last few days I had with you. That last day, as both mom and I stood at the kitchen window, listening to you cough while Bella and Xeva rolled around in the pasture below, we couldn’t hold back tears. As we drove to the vets, you watched curiously from the back seat, coughing painfully from time to time, but still excited to be going somewhere with your people. I wish it could have been to a more exciting place than the reality.
The moment we walked in, the staff at the front desk greeted you. You had become a bit of a celebrity over the years. Everyone loved seeing your happy self normally, but this time was different. There was an air of somber sadness that cloaked the reception room. Upon sight, everyone who worked there knew who you were and knew you by name, often enthusiastically greeting you as you wagged your tail at them happily. This time, you were met with quiet greetings of “Hey there old boy.”
We all petted you as you slipped away, murmured words of love and sorrow, mom and I crying quietly, and dad silently petting you. Looking back, I don’t remember what I all said to you as you slipped away, just that they were words of love. As I gently twisted your soft ears in my hand, I remembered the life we had led together. Our vet stroked your head as she listened and when she looked up to say “He’s gone” there were unshed tears in her eyes. I took your collar from around your neck before they took you away and tucked it in my pocket. You went quietly sweet old boy, no gasping, just quietly slipping away to the next life.
The last goodbyes are so often the hardest. As the wind rustles our ribbons on my wall next to my window, your collar rings softly as your tags click against one another. Looking at that wall, I’m reminded of how much we accomplished together and how wonderful of a team we were. It was never easy, often a fight each and every step of the way, but I don’t regret a single moment of it. Without you, I wouldn’t have become who I am today. We shared so many memories over our time together and they will be held close to my heart for the rest of my life. You were and always will be my old boy. I feel honored to have had you in my life and to have been loved so deeply by you. You placed such absolute trust in me, willingly following me down the strange and winding path of life, tail wagging the whole way. I know that you’ll never fully be gone from my life. Even now, I find your hair trapped in my bedroom carpet and in my car and I hope it never fully disappears.
You were filthy when we brought you home that rainy day so many years ago. It took nearly four washings to reveal the little white dog hidden beneath all the dirt, but there you were, soaking wet and wagging your tail as we dried you off. Over the years, we learned together- you how to run and play, how to be a relaxed family boy rather than a pure show dog, how to curl up on my bed with me at night and snore away, and me, how to form a partnership with a stubborn minded terrier, how to love, and how to laugh off the sudden mishaps of life and try again. You faced two bouts of cancer and pulled through each. You lived through miserable years in the Dog Barn with me, countless classes with Noel, hours of playing spider hands, and endured many more hours of me cuddling you in my arms. There will never be another like you and I’m thankful that you blessed my life for as long as you could. Still, I won’t lie- I can’t help but feel like a terrible mommy to you for having to make that final decision. I only hope that you knew how much you were loved and how deeply I miss your stubborn, sweet, little old man self.
Much love and thanks to my wonderful old boy,
Shez Biz Pastoral Symphony aka “Disney”
Born July 28, 1997
Died July 11, 2012
Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….