A week ago today, we had to make the sad decision to let Chloe go. She was our older Shar Pei dog, but only seven years old. About two months ago, she was diagnosed with beginning stages of kidney failure but was doing well on a prescription dog food. After 5 days of not eating or drinking, the vet hydrated her and got her to the point of eating and she was acting like her old self for a while. Suddenly, about two weeks ago, she stopped eating and drinking again, so we took her in for another treatment. Unfortunately, this didn't work. She couldn't eat and drinking made her sick. For two days, she pretty much sat or lay in one place, sleeping off and on, not wanting to move much. On the third day, I had to call the vet and tell him that she was no better and looked so miserable and that we couldn't let this go on. We'd had our sons say their good-byes to her the previous day and before we left the house, we brought our other dog, Sadie, over to her. Sadie was scared and trembling; I think she sensed something was wrong, and Chloe was the one who kissed her good-bye.
On the way to the vet's office, I sat in the back seat of the car with her, trying to hold her securely so she wouldn't slide around. She wagged her tail any time I talked to her. She'd been totally blind for nearly a year from glaucoma and we tried to make things less frightening for her but this time, I felt all I could do was tell her what a good girl she was. Before we even got there, I was crying. Even though you know you're doing the right thing, it still doesn't feel good to have to be the one to decide when a pet's life will end. She was panting heavily when we got in there and the vet said he could tell by her breath how sick she was because her lungs were trying to blow out the toxins that the kidneys couldn't get rid of. He gave her a shot of valium to sedate her and by the time we got her on the table, she was unaware of what was going on. We talked to her until she was gone, which seemed like only seconds, and the vet let us stay there with her until we felt ready to leave. She reminded me of a child's well-worn, well-loved stuffed animal. He and his staff were very compassionate and reassured us that this was the final loving thing we could do for her. We walked out of there with her collar and leash - nothing ever felt so empty.
The next day brought a delivery from a florist, which surprised the heck out of me, couldn't imagine who would be sending flowers. It was a beautiful flowering plant called "Bright Light" and the card read "In Memory of Chloe" from our vet's office. The tears started all over again, but they were healing - they told me that I had the capacity to care for another creature. I started thinking about all the "love bites" she'd given me on my wrist, or the times she'd nibble at my ears, or stand at the top of the steps when we'd come home and wave her paw as if to say "Hi," even after she was blind. She'd tolerated Sadie when we brought her home when Chloe was 18 months old and became her substitute mother.
Sadie is still moping around the house. Unlike Chloe, she has a bad habit of whining whenever she wants something, but she hasn't whined at all since Chloe's been gone. When we come home, she looks at us with a question on her face, like she's wondering if THIS time we'll have Chloe with us. I've had some dark days when I'm alone here and I know it's going to be tough when we bring Sadie to be boarded while we are on vacation because the breeders that we got both of them from have taken care of them every year since we've had Chloe. Every year, both of them - and especially Chloe - would recognize these people and just about go crazy with joy to see them. Chloe had been a favorite of theirs and this year, only Sadie will be jumping out of the car. We're hoping they'll let Sadie play with some of their younger dogs so she won't feel so lonely.
The other day, we found a memorial stone we plan to put in one of our gardens, where we're going to bury some of the fur we brushed out of her and her collar, and it says "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever." She'll live forever in our hearts, for sure.
Published On: June 16, 2010