I was in the supermarket today, and in the pet-food aisle I was about to get a treat for the dogs, then I remembered they’re dead. I nearly cried, pushing my stupid trolley along the aisle, trying to stop tears brimming.
A few weeks ago the vet came out to the farm at my request and injected both dogs and within a minute they died. They were 15 and 17 years old and starting to live in pain every day and one of them had almost stopped eating. It was time, or past time, for them to … to what? Go? Time to go? There are lots of ways of saying it and none of them are right.
Every time I try to do a proper post about this, I can’t do it, and I can’t do it this time either. It’s not that I’m upset, because I’m really not, except in passing moments like the one in the supermarket. The way they died was peaceful and fast, and I wish everybody could go that way.
It feels like I should do a post about the dogs themselves, not just their death, but I haven’t been able to. This post is about me. I nearly cried in the supermarket. I’d forgotten they were gone and then I remembered.
I miss them randomly. In the supermarket. When I take the wheelie bin out to the road (they used to walk out with me). When there’s a storm (they used to hide under the table at my feet). When I get home from mowing (they’d be in the house when I walked in).
Other things I’ve been thinking:
– After they died, it felt like people wanted me to cry, or even required me to cry, but I didn’t, or wouldn’t. The one time I did, it was like the other person then felt relieved.
– I never thought of the dogs as being mine, not once, not in the twelve or so years I looked after them (their owners had moved to places they couldn’t take a dog, but I was here on the farm all that time so the dogs stayed here).
– Having to decide when they would die was a strange sort of burden. I couldn’t ask them; I couldn’t figure out what they’d want if they could choose. In the end it was almost arbitrary, a weighing up of (a) what I guessed their level of pain might be, against (b) what I guessed their desire would be to end any suffering. A life and death decision, all guesswork.
– Beforehand, a few people asked if there was anything they could do to help, but the only thing I could think of was that I didn’t want to have to chat with the vet before and after the dogs died. Dad came out to do that, and I was really grateful for his help. The vet talked, the vet’s assistant talked, and Dad talked so I didn’t have to. It was specific practical assistance and it did really help.