This will probably be the hardest thing to write about for the simple fact that I’m waiting for it to get easier. Week after week, it’s not getting easier yet week after week, I feel the need to write the post. Here it is without a second thought or edits. I think it’s just easier that way.
Putting down a dog is the hardest thing to do.
Dang it. Okay, I might need to edit that one just a bit. I am in the right mind when I say that no one should ever outlive their children so no, I don’t think putting a dog to sleep is worse than the heartbreak of losing a child. I’m also not in the category of those that view pets as children. That involves dressing up your pets and putting the small ones in strollers. Not cool. Here’s where I might get most disagreement: Dogs are better and kinder than most humans. There is no doubt in my mind.
Bailey was my wife’s chocolate lab that turned 8 a few months ago. I was lucky to get to spend that last year and a half getting to know her. Before I came along and ruined everything, Bailey got the best spot on the couch, the premium spot in the bed and most importantly, total attention from Court. I did however bring Bailey my year old chocolate lab Lyla, who took to Bailey like they were long-lost friends. They both now had someone to run around the backyard with while we weren’t home. The both now had someone to show where the newest scent was and where to dig the best hole. Lyla showed Bailey that it would be in the middle of the backyard. Bailey never showed dirt under the fingernails so we think she may have told Lyla to do the digging and she would be the lookout. Sneaky. Lyla got Bailey to run up and down the yard for no reason other than to simply run.
Bailey was the best hugger. I know that sounds weird but what do you call it when you are sitting on the couch and she jumps up next to you and buries her nose into your armpit? There was nothing to do but put your arms around her. She loved letting us know that it’s breakfast time around 5:30am each morning and if we were, I don’t know, asleep, she would bang her tail against the dresser that at 5:30 in the morning sounded like shotgun.
I would give anything to hear that shotgun tail.
This past December, Court had to leave for the week for work so I had the dogs by myself for the first time. She was coming home on a Friday and that morning, Bailey decided that she wasn’t going to eat her food. This dog usually inhales her food. She barks at you before you get to the food tub because you aren’t getting the food fast enough. She didn’t take one bite. She was very lethargic and barely ate anything that weekend so we took her to the vet that next Monday. Her platelets were extremely low causing her appetite to drop plus her liver enzymes were extremely high. As I type this, I’m not sure what all that really means. We got her some injections and some pills to give her to get everything back to normal and it did. Within that next week she was back to eating like a nutjob and running up and down the backyard with her partner. It’s easy to think everything is back to normal.
She stopped eating again around the end of February. All she wanted to do was sleep and by looking at her, you could just tell that something wasn’t right. We got her in and her platelets were even worse than before. Liver enzymes were back to normal but her white cell count was registering off the charts. Her healthy cells decided to attack her. She also developed a mass by her tail that was causing issues with her walking. This mass was checked earlier and was found not to be cancer. Just a dumb mass. At this point she was too weak to stay home and with her still not eating, she stayed at the vet for a week. She did show some progress as she would fight and eat her food. And she would fight and drink water. The vet told us that he had seen a lot of dogs that give up. Bailey was fighting to get back home. We had hope. We still didn’t know what to pinpoint the problem to, but we had hope. Court would go see her everyday, just so Bailey would see someone familiar at that place. Bailey needed it. Court needed it more.
After a week at the vet and some tests, we found out that her pancreas was enlarged and her intestines were inflamed. She had a lot of fluid built up in her abdomen that was tough to see. We did however get a big blessing. We never got pictures of us with the dogs that we had wanted for a long time. Our good friend Sheradee stopped her routine and came out to the vet office to give us a mini-shoot with the dogs. We can’t thank her enough with what she was able to give us that day.
The vet then contacted Court and I’m thankful I was with her when we got the call. They called to let us know that what they are doing isn’t going to work anymore.
They couldn’t pin it on cancer without exploratory surgery and we were both in agreement that we didn’t want to put her through that. Court has a great relationship with the vet and she asked him what she should do. I still don’t know how she was able to ask that question, knowing what the answer would be.
The vet, who I’ve only been using since I met Court, is an amazing vet with the best manner when it comes to pets and from what I was about to find out, how to answer this question.
He said without surgery to go in and try to find something that we may not find, therefore unnecessary, you have to think about letting her go.
We brought her home on a Monday, knowing that it would probably need to be done that week. Also, it gave Lyla some time with Bailey. A few friends stopped by to see her and it was nice to see so much support from amazing friends. I was at work on Tuesday when Court called me. Long story short, she was ready. We wanted to make it to Thursday, maybe even Friday but when you think about it, that kind of Thursday or Friday could very easily be turned into a Monday or Tuesday.
You will never be okay with the day you drive your pet to the vet for the last time.
I don’t really want to share that ride and that afternoon here simply because given the circumstances, I don’t know if it could have gone any better. We had time with her as we drove to the vet. We got to spend some amazing time with her in the room. She was even given two pieces of chocolate cake that she inhaled in two bites. I think that will be the memory I will hold onto for the rest of my life. How happy that chocolate cake made her for a few minutes.
She had the hands of those that loved her the most on her. She did glance back once at the vet as he initially stuck her hind leg, but after that she never took her eyes off of Court. I believe it was her way of reminding us that she’s okay. After a little less than a minute she laid her head down on the blanket.
We were given some time after to simply sit with her. We ended up sharing stories and laughing. The shotgun tail of course got the most laughter from us both. When it was time for us to leave, I could see the panic in Court’s eyes. We got past the hard part, right? Well, maybe that wasn’t the hard part. Maybe driving away minus one was going to be the hard part. I knelt down and kissed Bailey on the forehead and whispered in her ear, “Thank you for the best spot on the couch and I will love Court for the rest of my life”. I know Bailey didn’t hear it, but I also know that she already knew it.
I hugged Court and we managed to get back home. It has been a few weeks of tears and healing. There are moments that stop you and make you think that it’s not real, that Bailey is still at the vet getting better. There are days that you laugh at all the things she would do and you are reminded at just how blessed and lucky a person can be.
Bailey loved Courtney with everything. And she trusted me not to screw that up. She even taught Lyla a thing or two. She taught Lyla that breakfast started at 5:30am too.
You win, sweet Bailey girl. You win.
Left: Lyla Right: Bailey – I think this was them laughing after Bailey told her about the 5:30 breakfast time.