For over two months normal greetings between my husband and I have been replaced with one question.
“How is she?”
At first, the answers were hopeful but as time went on we both had to accept that we had gotten to THAT place. The one no dog lover wants to be, were the only answer to that question is a knowing shrug and a forlorn look. At the same time, it was easy to see that there was only one course of treatment if we were to do right by our matriarch.
Honey, Bear, Honey Bee, Barington, didn’t matter what we called her she was simply the best. I am so glad we took the time to appreciate her while she was still here.
Yesterday, we were honored to preside over her passing. All of us there. The boys outside with the other dogs and my husband and me by her side. All of us able to tell her that she is the “best dog that ever lived;” one last time. Through hugs and kisses, as she smacked her lips contentedly in response.
She left no doubt that it was time.
Thanks to an amazing neighbor who is also a vet, we were able to afford her the luxury of ending her life at home on the couch, rather than a vet office. I don’t think we could have waited one more day without it costing her a measure of the great dignity she demonstrated for 15 (16?) years.
Her life started in California; an abused and neglected pit-mix. When Ry went to the pound they told him “you don’t want that one, she is aggressive. Especially towards men.” She had been returned to the shelter twice already by people who couldn’t handle her willful nature. With his ever-present “we will see about THAT” attitude he entered her kennel and they became fast friends. She was so attached to him that sometimes when he left she would Parkour over a 10′ security fence and go after him.
She entered my life a fully grown, mature alpha and soon after had a horrific accident that would shape our relationship into the deep bond of trust I was blessed to have shared with her.
I have written about the misplaced sentiment that our pets are like our children. I see them as elders and Honey optimized that assertion. She presided over every aspect of our lives. Every important moment she was there, right by our side through it all.
She has lived on a boat, out of a car and on both sides of the continent. Seen more of this country than many humans five times her age. From Santa Cruz to Maine she has swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.
Visited some of the best destinations this world has to offer.
I am most proud that I was able to keep the promise I made to her when I meet her years ago. We would take care of her and love her no matter what she did. We would find her a place to retire and rest, a place she didn’t have to be anxious all the time or worry about being left behind. Where she had every privilege a dog could have, a place she could do no wrong.
We vowed; that her quality of life would be a family priority and not an afterthought.
To her credit, this was an easy promise to keep. She tirelessly did the right thing and could be trusted in all situations to be a ‘good dog.’
I am happy that her pain is at an end and that ‘the end’ was not filled with pain, only exhaustion. Grateful, I never had to spend another night listening to her labored respirations and whimpers of overflowing pain- as I had in the days after her accident and again after she had a tumor removed five years ago.
We will remember all the years that she did her best to protect and love our family. It seems like every dog I have is the best dog ever but I think that is the way it should be. I will leave it there- along with just a few of the (literally thousands) pictures I took of the girls.
We have lost a family member and our best friend but the universe gained a bright soul. It was time, her mortal body could no longer contain her will to go on. We were privileged to be there to help her into the clearing at the end of the path.
I love you girl. Till we meet again.