Last Thursday I said goodbye to my best friend of thirteen years. My dog.
She was old for an Aussie – the oldest I’ve known them to get is 15, and she was 13. She had some arthritis in her back legs, and her teeth weren’t so great. But she could still run around like a 2 year old when she felt like doing so. It wasn’t until a couple months ago that she started really acting old. But she was a fighter.
When you get a dog of any age, you always know in the back of your mind that one day you will have to make that decision of when to put her down. There will come a day when you look into your dog’s eyes and see gray clouding her pupils. You will run your hand along her side and feel her ribs, because she’s not eating as much as she should. And when that day comes you will know in your heart that the time to make that decision will be here much too soon. Every day after that you try telling yourself, “No, she’ll be fine. She’s not ready to go yet.” But you’re lying. You’re lying to yourself and you know it. To put it off any longer is selfish.
But it’s still one of the hardest decisions ever.
Ginger was there for me every day of my life for thirteen years. She never judged, never complained; always loved, always trusted. The very least I could do for her was stay with her until forever ended.
So I sat there. On the floor. I rubbed her ears the way she liked. I told her how much I loved her and planted a kiss on top of her nose. Her nose was always funny…. The hair was the same color as her skin in one spot so her nose looked crooked. Tears streamed down my face, and yes, snot too. But who cared. The vet gave her an anesthetic. As her eyes closed slowly I squeezed her tight. That was all I could do.
Then she was gone. There was no more I could do. I stared blankly at nothing. Barely breathing. She was gone. My girl. My best friend.
All my memories from the past 13 years flashed across my eyes.
Sharing pretzels when nobody was looking.
Going on walks. She wouldn’t walk nicely for anybody but me. If I wasn’t there she would lag behind.
Laying on Mom’s bedroom floor in the summer doing absolutely nothing.
Wading in the creek and getting soaked.
Making footprints in the mud.
Sitting on a blanked out under the cherry tree, watching the chickens wander around.
Running through the goldenrod in the field.
Moseying through the neighbors’ woods in the fall, crunching the leaves.
We tried making her pull a travois once, after reading Omkastoe for school. It didn’t work. She obviously knew we were idiots to think she’d do that.
After my surgeries I had to sleep in the living room since I couldn’t walk up the stairs. She’d sleep right next to the couch all night with me.
Thirteen years used to seem like a long time. Now it seems too short. Where does time go? It goes into memories. Smiles. Laughter. Happiness. It goes into those things for you to find when you’re mourning and lonely and sad. It goes there so that on the day you have to make that decision, you have a place to go to remember.