Loss is a Four-Legged Word

Two nights ago I lost my puppy. She was not yet ten months old when we had to put her down. It was part aggression that spiked post-surgery to the point no one felt safe around her, and part degenerative health that was only worsening at a severe pace. At only nine months old, she had the arthritis of a super senior dog. To have two major hip operations before her first birthday, combined with her unpredictable nature that rendered by hand black and blue, my parents and I made the difficult decision to step in and ask for veterinary help. She was doing so well-even walking and kind of jogging just a few days after surgery. But as time went on, I noticed she was getting agitated, and then her previously angelic behavior quickly turned quite dangerous.

In the hours before we lost her, I cried uncontrollably…and still do, several days later. Pictures and videos I’ve found of her make me cry for no reason. I miss her furry tail, her piercing eyes, and her sweet demeanor (she had most of the time). After boot camp she came back rejuvenated and willing to please. I taught her how to use the ramp in our backyard, so she didn’t have to use the stairs on her bad hip. She sat next to me while I worked on my computer, both on-leash and off. She ate her pills like a champ, rarely if ever spitting them up, and then quickly eating them again.

I miss hearing her bark and sleeping next to her cage in the afternoons for a nap. I miss putting on her little t-shirt to cover her stitches and popping her tail into the little hole I’d made for her. I miss that I won’t be able to ever take another picture or video of her crazy antics. The way she loved to pick up left shoes and walk around the house with them. The way she’d pick up things of mine and carry them around like they were hers. She had found a bottle opener I’d purchased in Iceland that had a reindeer horn on it…and thought it was a bone. She had also found a lipgloss I’d shown her and put in my purse…took it out and tried to unscrew it to lick herself.

Even though she wasn’t the most affectionate older puppy, she was as a baby. I’d hand-fed her and held her at night and in the early mornings when she’d wake up crying. Loss is one of those things that literally rips at your heartstrings and leaves you feeling empty. I know I will never be able to replace her…and I feel like that’s a double-edged sword. She was surely unique with her super blonde coloring and velvety black nose with splayed big ears. She was stubborn and strong-willed, but she was mine.

I keep telling myself everything happens for a reason. I found her little picture online and drove three hours each way to just see her…and immediately decided I wanted to adopt her. Now, all I have are those pictures. I purposefully only took one in the hours before she left us because I wanted to be as present as possible with her. I held her as she nervously paced in the waiting room, I caught her as she jumped out of the back of the car before the ramp could be set up. I was there for her and I hope in the future I might be able to find another pet as loving and gorgeous as she was.

They say pain lessens with time, but I never want to forget her. I was too upset at the vet to ask for a pawprint or to keep her collar. I just wanted her to go out with as much dignity as possible. Perhaps it’s through loss that we are better able to connect with the living and to go on with our lives. It’s incredible to think how much of an impression one life could have on another. I will miss her, but I know that as the human she trusted, I made the best decision for her in those last moments we were together.

Rest in peace, little girl. I know you’re up there ripping avocados off trees and sleeping with all your paws in the air. Miss you more than there are words to express how much your absence has affected me. I wish we could have had more time together, but I know you would have been suffering, and that would have been selfish of me to keep you. Until we meet again, I hope you keep me safe and don’t stray too far from my side.

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