Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Farewell Dear Heart....

October has been a bit of a wipe for me.... I'll just say, up front, that I'm behind on my Desktoppers, I have not filled the sketchbook, and my other artwork has been mostly on hold.

Earlier in the month we were visiting family 1500 miles away when our old doggie (who had been very chronically 'going downhill' but doing well when we left) decided to take a sudden turn. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go without seeing her - we felt it wouldn't have been fair to her to make her wait the 18 hours it would have taken to get the soonest flight home.

Emma was my husband's dog initially, she and he were buddies for many years before I came along. Over the last 8 years though we'd all melded together as a big, happy (mostly four-legged) family. Emma was a wonderful soul - a street dog from Detroit she had a survivor's soul, but at her core she was sunshine incarnate. She knew about rules and mostly followed them... unless a higher calling (such as having some fun) beckoned.

She was almost 15, and in the last year and a bit she'd been going downhill. Heart issues and kidney issues, and mostly just old age. Like old Laurich she would dip low and we'd have 'the talk' then we'd change her treatment and she'd rally and we'd know it wasn't yet time.

Despite knowing 'it was coming', we'd stalled the trip for months and finally booked it when it seemed that she was stable and might decide to live another year. Whether it was the stress of us being gone or just bad timing - whatever the reason she chose that week to take the big downturn. My greatest regret is that my husband couldn't be with her to say goodbye.

Even being veterinarians, even knowing that it was coming, it is still hard. The first thing your mind does is construct the worst-case scenario and try to dwell on it. No matter how many people I've counseled when losing their pets it took my good friend to remind me "You didn't cause this to happen. I know you know that, but you have to ACCEPT that too." Knowing and accepting are two very different things aren't they?

Emma was our last dog - this is the first time we've been dogless in 15 years. The cats are more than happy to fill the gap and get more love and attention, but every night I still feel like there's something I should be doing (carrying the skinny dog downstairs to go potty because for the last month or two she couldn't navigate the stairs on her own). When we drop a piece of toast on the floor we have to toss it out because there's no dog to 'take care of it' (I won't mention the occasional cat vomit that we can't rely on Emma to 'take care of' either :D).

The sadness fades over time. We'll get used to our new situation. And sometime, when the time is right, we'll open our hearts to another homeless doggie. Until then we'll remember Emma's many good years - when she'd play chase with Nadia, cutting through the garden because that was the one spot Nadia wouldn't go. When she'd run Laurich ragged, then dive-bomb him in great, looping circles. The look on her face when she'd see horses 'What the heck are those big dogs doing?'. The way she'd keep one eye on you while you were eating but the other on the floor, because smart dogs know when the food drops the one watching the floor will get to it first. That her nose almost never left the ground on a walk. The fact that she lived in more places than me, from the heat of Texas to the chill of Saskatchewan winters, and everything in between. And mostly the look of sheer enjoyment that graced her face most all of the time.

So here's to Emma (and Laurich, and Rosie, and Scout, and Ty, and Ellie)! Here's to all the cats and dogs that leave such holes in our hearts when they pass, but who make our life so much more fulfilling while they are here and forever afterward.

1 comment:

Nancy Goldman said...

I'm so sorry about Emma. It's always so hard to lose our animal kids. It sounds like she had a wonderful life and knew she was loved.