No words

I need to properly acknowledge a beautiful moment in my life, even as I struggle to find the words.

As I glance at the time, I immediately think about Sam’s schedule. At 5:28 my viscera know automatically whether she should be getting her dinner, or going out for a walk before sunset.

But no, that’s gone. I am a bit like a boat that has lost its anchor, drifting for the moment.

I look at her food and water dishes, not wanting to put them away yet, looking at her blanket on my bed (yes she used to sleep with us).

The blanket

Our dog Sam is gone, with the help of Midtown Mobile veterinary hospice services. They offer advice and also come to you to perform euthanasia if it’s called for. Their website can be found here (click).

Earlier we had looked at their Quality of Life scale, something I’ve mentioned previously. As a pet ages, this gives you a way to help decide whether palliative care should be implemented or if humane euthanasia should be considered.

You can also download a QoL scale on their website. With each passing month, Sam’s scores were getting lower and lower, as we faced the reality of her condition.

We have previously had a dog and a cat euthanized, in both cases at moments of medical crisis, which means not just pain but emotional stress for the poor animal. While it was beautiful to finally see the animals at peace, the journey was in some ways horrific.

This time was very different.

Instead of stress we had reassurance. Instead of fear for the animal, it was a most peaceful journey across the rainbow bridge. Sam was lying with her head against my leg, as I rubbed her, seeking to help keep her calm.

We actually had an appointment for that final visit last week, but at the last minute we backed out, changing our minds because Sam had seemed more alive than ever. We couldn’t bear to go through with it. That moment of reprieve was joyful for us yet we knew we were delaying the inevitable, that she was not going to really recover, not at her advanced age, not with all the ailments tormenting her.

We knew what eventually lay ahead.

And the past week was another painful one for Sam, who has been panting, limping, gasping, slipping & falling. The past few nights we tried to settle her down to sleep, wondering if she would even make it through the night.

Today’s appointment was a model of compassionate care. I’m struggling to write this, finding solace in reporting concrete facts.

Dr Ellis was more like a psycho-therapist than a vet, talking to us about Sam’s issues, holding out possible remedies and hopeful options. There was no pressure to decide one way or the other. If we had changed our mind –as we did last weekend—we were fully supported.

I have been blubbering like a big baby at various times over the past couple of weeks. Yesterday and today it was especially emotional as I took her outside for her last walks in the yard, her last meals, offering her treats and rubbing her.

In due course, I was the one needing comfort, feeling her fur and rubbing her while I still could.

Gradually she became quieter, stiller.

Midtown are more than vets, they’re like psychologists, caring for the pet-owner at their moment of greatest pain. Whatever you decide, you will find them supportive and helpful.

I’m grateful for the excellence of their care, looking after Sam but also extremely compassionate to Erika and me.

Sam’s pawprint and a lock of hair inside the heart-shaped container
This entry was posted in Animals, domestic & wild, Personal ruminations & essays, Psychology and perception and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to No words

  1. Kirk says:

    Condolences. The death of a canine family member – especially one you’ve really shared your life with – is as deep and enduring as any loss. You are among the fortunate who have loved and been loved.

  2. What a lovely post, but how painful to write. My condolences to you. Losing a pet is soooo hard.

  3. Bud Roach says:

    So sorry to read this. Sending good thoughts.

  4. Dilsat says:

    Leslie and Erika

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much Sam meant to you. I hope that you can find peace in all the beautiful memories of the beautiful life that you gave her.
    Sending much love

  5. Fred Ford says:

    Leslie and Erika…I’m so sorry. Anyone who follows your blog knows how much you loved Sam, and how much she loved you. With that much love, Sam will live in your hearts forever.

    Take care.

    • barczablog says:

      Hi Fred, we’re taking it a day at a time. Coming home tonight (dinner with my mom) I still expected her to be at the window. While my mind knows one thing, the viscera is slower. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

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