How Did You Know When to Say Goodbye?
How do I say goodbye to an old friend that has been with me before I knew my kids? She’s been there through every sickness, every sob session, and every new baby that came home from the hospital. We bought her six months after we got married and found an apartment that allowed small dogs. I always wanted a dog growing up and had done my share of begging but to no avail. I even tried coaxing a wandering dog home to show my mom and dad that the “poor animal had followed me home”. However, the dog collar and tags (and the fact that my dad was working outside at the back of the house and heard me bully the dog from a block away) were no help in winning that battle.
So on to adulthood I went, dogless and determined. The day I became a dog owner, holding my sweet fur baby inside my hooded sweatshirt, I felt complete. It was something I was meant to be.
As life carried on, houses were bought and kids were birthed, and things got crazier, she became part of the backdrop and no longer one of the main characters in our story. Blink. Blink. Fourteen and a half years later, here we are. Making a decision that rips our hearts out.
Our first “baby”, Kelsey, used to play and nip our heels. She used to lick away tears and clean up the kids as if they were own. She used to eat toilet paper from the roll and tissues from the waste basket. After she was spayed, she began humping legs (and only the ones attached to human males) like they were rubbed in bacon grease. Every dog has their trademark bad habit. That was hers.
One day about a month ago, she showed signs of dementia as she did something, a very naughty thing that she only did when we weren’t looking. My husband and I knew the time would come sooner than later, but as we felt the stress of dealing with a geriatric pet take a drastic leap, we knew had a choice to make. And making the choice to put a pet down has to be one of suckiest things of all time.
It’s one thing to have to make a snap decision to put a pet down because a sudden change in their health, but to make the decision in advance because of her overall deterioration is totally different. Is it better to know ahead of time or to have it happen quickly? I answer C, none of the above.
People say to get a puppy before you have kids to prepare you for what is to come. When your pet lives to a ripe old age, then you also get to have a taste of what it is like to care for the elderly. We had to recognize her poor quality of life, and in turn ours, and made the heart-wrenching choice to say goodbye.
We loved on her all week, knowing this day was coming upon us quickly. We cried last night as we all sat around and gave her one last cuddle. This morning our hearts are drooping. Today we said goodbye to part of our family. Our first baby.
We will always love you, Kelsey Pelse. Give ‘em hell up there*, old girl.
Side note: If I find out that all dogs DON’T go to heaven, I am going to raise some serious hell.