Late last week, my mother in law said goodbye to her dog Henry. It was almost two years to the day that his litter mate Jasmine died in her arms. Though it was not unexpected, it was a very difficult day for her.
Five days later, friends of ours had to make the heart-wrenching and sudden decision to put their dog down. She had herniated a disc during the night and was unable to use her hind legs.
The runt of the litter, she was rescued from a crack house ten and a half years ago and had a wonderful life. She traveled across Canada with her people, posing at every provincial welcome sign from coast to coast. To say she was loved would be an understatement.
Supporting our friends as they struggled to make their final decision, my husband and I couldn’t help but remember our own experience with our 10 year old Lab, Tess. Like so many experiences in life, it is a decision full of conflicting emotions. Fear, guilt, sadness – but most of all love. That’s probably why it’s so hard.
Looking into their eyes, we see that familiar sparkle is gone. Their pain is obvious. We may be tempted to put them through treatments that can’t promise a better outcome, wanting them to live just a little longer – but that is probably for our benefit, not theirs.
Those of us who have been loved by a dog know how deep that connection can be. It is something that can’t be explained to those who haven’t had the experience. We open our hearts when we welcome a pet into our lives, setting ourselves up for heartbreak down the road.
But those years in between! For those of us lucky enough to have loved a pup, we know the heartbreak is worth it.