The Last Battle

Snow

“Where do you think we should bury her?”

This was not the question I was expecting to ask Chase two weeks ago, when we drove Honey home from the emergency vet’s office. She was still alive and breathing in the back seat, but just barely, and the writing was on the wall of the decision that faced us. We could have already decided to call her life quits back at the vet, but neither of us could stomach her last moments taking place in a vet’s office, where she was most likely confused, panicked, and wanting nothing more than to go home. So we drove her home, tears streaming down our face. Chase and I sat on the floor, petting Honey while she took a nap, and Henry called our regular vet to make an appointment for that afternoon.

Henry left, letting us know that the appointment was 2 hours away. Chase and I lay on either side of our beloved friend, petting her softly while she slept. We cried and held each other’s hands, and then 2 hours later we lifted her, dog bed and all, and carried her to the car. Honey slept peacefully while we drove. Chase parked the car in a sunny spot at the vet’s parking lot, and I sat with her while he let them know we were here. I had insisted that she not be brought inside the vet’s office, since it would only cause her to panic, and so they agreed to come out to the car. When I saw our vet, a kind and gentle man, begin to walk toward the car, my heart filled with a panic I have never known in my life, and continued while he tried to find a vein in her dehydrated, depleted body. This man was going to kill my dog, my friend, and it seemed inconceivable that my job was to simply sit by and watch it happen. For the benefit of her state of mind, I managed to keep it together and reassured Honey with a constant chant of, “Good girl, good dog,” until he had checked her heart and told me she was gone. The memories are vague from there, but I know that I wailed and cried like I cannot ever remember doing, and I hope that it is a long time, forever even, before I see my husband in the state he was in for the next few days. People told me it would be hard, but in the moment I felt wholly unprepared for the loss of our dog.

We both knew we wanted to bury her near our pond, which she loved to swim in every summer day. The ground was just thawed enough to allow us to bury her that day. The next day, our first real snow came, and everything in our world was different, both in feeling and in the visual.

It is hard to fully express the pain of losing a dog. When people visited our home, Honey might bark a loud greeting, but the rest of the time she spent sleeping on the floor or wandering outside, a minimal intrusion on their time spent with us. No one else saw the first two years of college when she slept in my bed, or the nights I spent home alone and felt safe with her by my side. They didn’t see when Chase and I wrestled with her on the floor, or when she ran along side us on hikes. Outsiders see your dog as a background fixture, and not the center of so much love and joy in your daily life, so the void feels impossible to adequately describe. Honey

I was sent a poem by a friend the day after Honey died, and while it did nothing to stem the flow of tears, it did ease the doubt and suffering in my heart. If you are going through something similar, I hope it helps.

The Last Battle 

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.

You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.

Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

-Unknown

Thanks for reading. xoxo

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9 Thoughts on “The Last Battle

  1. Ambor on February 10, 2014 at said:

    Hey Caroline,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Honey was such a sweet and kind dog and your post has me in tears. It sounds like you all had amazing adventures together and over time that will be all that matters. I’m sorry for your grief and send you my warm thoughts and prayers.

    Ambor

  2. Jessica on February 10, 2014 at said:

    Aw, I’m so sorry. :(

  3. This is the worst news. I am so, so, sorry to hear about Honey – she was such a beauty!

  4. I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a pet is impossibly hard. We lost our sweet kitty last year and my heart still breaks everyday for him. So hugs to you!! I need to go get another kleenex now…

  5. Kristin on February 11, 2014 at said:

    You’ve expressed the feelings associated with the loss of a pet so beautifully. Those of us who have been there, and will be again, completely understand and empathize. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  6. Had me bawling! I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending you peace!

  7. Just devastating to read, and unimaginable to go through. Words fail me, but I had to leave a note to let you know how touched I was that you were able to share this so eloquently.

  8. Stacey on March 24, 2014 at said:

    I know this post was from a few months ago, but I just saw it. I wanted to let you know how brave I think you are for being there with her in her last moments. I know from personal experience how very hard that was for you guys. When my parents had to put down my childhood dog last year, my dad could not bring himself to go in with her. He stayed outside with her sweet sister dog. My mom and I went in and stayed with her until the very end. It is so, so hard, but our dogs are always by our sides when we need them the most, aren’t they? There are things that we go through in life that are so much worse than losing a dog, but that certainly doesn’t make losing them any easier. This heartbreaking post was so well-written, and please know that I am sad with you. Our dogs are like members of our families, and losing them just creates this awful void in our everyday lives and in our hearts.

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