Over the years we’ve had many dogs. We currently have Jax who is a 22-month old (at what point do I stop counting in months?) English Mastiff weighing in at 170 pounds. Ryder is a 5 month old (I think under a year “month” counting is allowed) English Mastiff weighing in at 73 pounds. Blaze is almost 9 years old and a handsome Chocolate Lab who weighs about 90 pounds. Crispie is the only girl but she’s in charge. She’s scrappy and tough and she definitely rules the pack. Crispie is 7 ½ years old, she’s also a very pretty Chocolate Lab but I won’t be discussing her weight; that’s Girl Code. Blaze and Crispie are actually my grand-dogs since they belong to my son but I claim them too.
I love having dogs. They are so fun to watch and be around; most of the time it’s better than being around some humans. They make me laugh over and over and they love me no matter what; just as I do them. I think every dog lover would agree with that. Which is why it hurts so badly when we lose them.
We’ve had many dogs over the years that we’ve had to let go. It never gets easier. Making the decision that it’s time to let your dog go, to end their life, is horrific. The questions that come with that scenario don’t have definitive answers. Am I being selfish by prolonging their life? Are they enjoying each day? Can’t I make their quality of life better? When is the right time to do it? No one knows. It’s the one time I really wish each one could have talked to me. You can’t judge the timing by age because it doesn’t matter if we’ve had them for 11 years like our handsome Golden boy Lowden or for a short 5 years like our amazing Saint Bernard boy Benson. No matter what, it hurts and the hurt never goes away. If you’re fortunate, the hurt just surfaces less often; but even that takes a long time.
Knowing that a dog is sick, can’t be treated, and or is dying are all terrible scenarios. In the end though, you get to be with them. Maybe you give them a treat they’ve been denied their whole life. A piece of chocolate has always been our last gesture to our dogs when we’ve sat with them and cried while they’ve had to be put to sleep because of an illness. When they’re gone, it’s not easy; actually it’s absolutely horrible. But, you know where they are. You know they aren’t hurting. They have relief from whatever pain or disease had taken over their body. You suffer because of the loss but they are released and that’s the only thing to hold on to. That and that you have closure.
When you lose a pet, literally lose, it’s also terrible. Obviously your dog dying can’t be measured as far as “on a scale of 1-10” how much does your heart hurt? You can’t measure uncertainty either and that’s all you get when a pet runs away; total and complete uncertainty. Zoey, my daughter’s Saint Bernard (my grand-dog) ran away in March. Just prior to that, life was supposed to be a happy time, celebrating my daughter purchasing her first home. She and Zoey had their own house; it was the start of a new journey for them. Unfortunately, that journey took a major wrong turn within 5 days of moving. While my daughter was at work, Zoey went out her dog door, dug under the gate during a rare Arizona rain storm, and hasn’t been seen since. Something important to know about Zoey is that she has been on Prozac (literally) for 3 years per her veterinarian, for anxiety. With that said, even with her anxiety, Zoey was never a digger. Unfortunately, the move and the new house must have put her at a level of scared that we never could’ve imagined. We still know nothing and the feelings we experience teeter between scared and heartbroken. This is part of the unknown when you lose a pet. Not knowing if they are being taken care of. Are they dead somewhere or hurting and alone? Are they scared? Is someone mistreating them? How are they doing without their medication? Do they have food and water? Are they warm? Cool? Inside or outside? Are they missing you as much as you’re missing them? Are they happy and getting loved? Do they really know what being lost means?
The questions about their welfare seem endless yet they occur every day; relentlessly. Along with all of that, comes the blame that if you would’ve done this or that, you could’ve avoided their escape. It’s the unforgiving “what-if” game and there are no winners in that one.
No matter if we lose them or they are lost, your heart breaks in the same way. There’s still hope that Zoey will come home. We won’t give up on that or on her. Here’s hoping that one day she won’t be lost and she’ll be home for many years before we have to lose her.