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When Pets Leave Us Behind..

Jun 19, 2009 - 10 comments

I guess everyone can see my mood as SAD because we had to put our 20 yr old cocker spaniel to sleep this morning and it's a very sad day at our house.  

My husband got her from the animal shelter 13 yrs ago.  At that time, she was 7 years old and was due to be euthanized within a day or two because her previous people had passed away.  Her name was Heather and it only took her a few minutes to win our hearts and rule our heads.  She had such a cute dainty little face and when she'd **** her head and "smile" at us, we couldn't help but laugh at her and she usually got whatever she wanted.  After a day at the groomer - talk about struttin' her stuff............. Her hair was a bright brownish gold color but was actually getting gray in some places, especially around her face.

In 2006, we got another dog, beagle mix who was then 2 years old, named Francis (after the hurricane in 2004).  I never really cared for the name of Francis and HER previous owners had called her Franny.  Anyway, she's built like a tank and just not "feminine" enough to be EITHER Francis or Franny, so I took to calling her Frankie - suits her perfectly.  

Anyway, when we first brought Frankie home, Heather was a bit "miffed" - like she thought she would lose her "standing" in the family, but it didn't take long for her become "the boss"...... She made sure Frankie ALWAYS knew her place..  

A few years ago, Heather developed  arthritis in her hips pretty bad, so the vet had her on Rimadyl and she's been taking that for several years.  In addition to that, her teeth were bad and gave her a lot of pain.  She was deaf and her eye sight was deteriorating steadily.  Over the past few months, she had gotten so she wouldn't eat unless either my hubby or myself got down on the floor and "hand fed" her - literally....  She had recently developed a habit of pawing/digging/scratching at the floors, like she would if she were digging a hole in the dirt.  We never did figure out what THAT was about...

Recently, she had spent most of every night wandering around the house - keeping me awake, with her toenails clicking on the laminate floors and her heavy panting (which we learned today was caused from pain) when she came beside the bed to let me know she needed to go outside - IF she remembered that's what she was supposed to do.  She also had some alzheimers (sp?) going on -- we have a "doggie door" from the screen room to the dogs yard by the house and often she'd go out and just wander around looking up at the sky; poor thing had no idea where she was or what she was supposed to be doing.  Even with ALL that wrong with her, she still LOVED the daily walks around the "big yard".  That's when we put both dogs on leashes and walk them "away from home".  

Yesterday when hubby got home from work, she was chasing crickets in the screen room (which was a favorite past time for her) and shortly after when he leashed both dogs for their walk, she could hardly go at all.  Last night, my hubby spent most of the night awake holding and stroking her to keep her from the "digging activity" and she finally fell asleep.  This morning as he was getting ready for work, she had gone into the bathroom with him and found a spot that she was comfortable with, so that's where she stayed for well over an hour after he left for work.  

Later, when I got up and was on the computer (checking out MH) she laid at on the floor at my feet (more accurately ON my feet) and whenever I got up she'd follow me.  She was not interested in eating OR drinking anything.  Even when I went to the bathroom, she'd go with and lay at my feet.  When I took my shower, she crawled into the corner behind the toilet (very small space) and wouldn't come out.  

After going to work, my husband called home and asked what I thought about her.  I said that I had an appt for a hair cut this morning, but after I got done, I planned to get her in to see the vet.  

That's when he asked the question we had both been trying to avoid.  Even though we both loved her and shared her care, she was pretty much HIS dog, so I felt that HE should be the one to make that decision.  He decided to come on home from work and take her to the vet himself - she was still laying behind the toilet in the bathroom.  He had no appointment, but they got him right in.  

The vet looked Heather over and told him that she WAS in great pain.  Although there are meds we could give her for the pain and alzheimers, what would her quality of life be like?  The pain would never fully go away.  My husband and I had already discussed that it we kept her with us, we would be doing it for US not HER.  Meds would only have prolonged the inevitable and quite likely would not have made her very comfortable anyway.  She WAS, after all, just a few months away from 20 yrs old - and she'd lived a long, happy life.  

My husband made the only decision he could make and did what was best for her.  He said "Farewell".  

Losing a pet is SO much like losing a family member and we all handle our grief differently.  My husband is rather at loose ends right now, not quite knowing WHAT to do, but totally exhausted.  He's already shampooed the carpets and cleaned up the stains from the times Heather didn't make it outside - now what??  He's taken away the steps that he made and put beside the bed so she could climb up, since she was no longer able to jump up.  Her bed is sitting in the kitchen waiting for the cover to get washed and dried - then what will we do with it?  Frankie MIGHT use it, but most likely not because even she knows that was Heather's bed - Heather made sure of

I'm handling my grief by writing this journal.  We will always miss our pretty little "golden girl", but her spirit will always be with us.   I'm sure by now, she's young again and free of pain, chasing her beloved crickets once more.  

Rest in Peace, Heather.  

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483733 tn?1326798446
by TrudieC, Jun 19, 2009
So sorry to hear about your loss.  Yes, they are family members and it is so hard to make that decision and relieve them of their pain.  I know that you will continue to cherish your memories of Heather and she will be in your heart forever.

428506 tn?1296557399
by wonko, Jun 19, 2009
What a touching tribute to Heather, thanks for sharing her story with us.  My cats are all rescues, and my "better half" volunteers in a no-kill shelter.  I don't have children, and definitely consider our pets to be family.  They enrich our lives so much.

I'm glad you were able to give Heather a loving home and that you'll keep so many good memories of her.  

657315 tn?1319491387
by twehner5, Jun 19, 2009
What a precious memoir to a dear and cherished pet.  She had a good home and you guys made the right decision, even though it was obviously hard.  I'm glad Heather had you guys for these past 13 years, but I am so sorry for your loss just now.  As the others have said, you have many good memories of her.  She was SO worth it....

495284 tn?1333894042
by dominosarah, Jun 19, 2009
I am so sorry about your loss........What a wonderful tribute to Heather.  You and your husband be proud of being such wonderful pet owners......May you find comfort in her memories.........sara

649848 tn?1534633700
by Barb135, Jun 19, 2009
Thanks so much to everyone for your kind support.  It's been such an emotional day and it's so easy to break into tears, yeah, I'm crying now.  

We loved our "golden girl" so very much and because she "ruled", we are all (including Frankie) trying to figure out what to do next.  I'm not even sure I will be able to sleep tonight because I'll still be listening for her to come "panting" by the bed to let me know she needs to go outside (when she remembered that she was SUPPOSED to go outside).

We have to concentrate on Frankie now - she's the one we have left and hopefully we will be able to keep her for as long as we kept Heather. It's strange - during the time we had BOTH Heather and Frankie, we had to take Frankie's food to the screen room and let Heather eat inside  because - well, quite "frankly", Frankie is a pig (lol) and tried to "steal" Heather's food.  Tonight, for the first time since we've had Frankie, she was allowed to eat without having to go to the screen room - she wasn't sure how to react at first.  It will take a while for her to realize that SHE rules now.  Frankie has her OWN wonderful personality and will be able to 'shine' without our darling, dominate "golden girl" to suppress her.  WE (hubby and I) always tried to encourage Frankie, but Heather made sure that she (Frankie) knew where she 'belonged".  It's all "dogese" to me, but the 2 dogs definitely had their own form of communication.  We could often see the "signals" they sent to each other - Heather was good at sending Frankie to beg for treats, but wasn't above doing it herself if Frankie failed in getting results........  Oh, I know it sounds silly, but they really DID communicate in a very special way - we could see it, just didn't know what they were saying to each other until we realized that we had just given in to their  

Oh, who will Frankie talk to now and who will make her behave - yep, Heather used to "tell" Frankie to "stop it, be quiet", etc??  

You are all right - we DO have the memories and some precious pics of her over the years.....  

Heather will live in our hearts forever.  

If we decide to get another dog, it will be another rescue.  I could live with another "golden girl" like Heather.  

495284 tn?1333894042
by dominosarah, Jun 19, 2009
Frankie will talk to you now.....she will own you!!!  I have a beagle and she is ruled by her tummy and those big brown eyes that make me give in more than i should!!!!   Let yourself feel the pain and hug Frankie tonight extra tight.....she will be missing Heather too......

649848 tn?1534633700
by Barb135, Jun 20, 2009
Sarah - you are right about Frankie missing Heather.  When I put her out early this morning, the first thing she did was look around in the direction that she knew my hubby took Heather yesterday.  She knows her "buddy" is no longer here.  

You are also correct that beagles are ruled by their tummy and yes, Frankie can always convince me that she needs more than she does.  She has such a special personality - she's so funny.  We will grieve together...  

Thank you..

458072 tn?1291415186
by peggy64, Jul 03, 2009
ohhhhhhhhh! How sad. It breaks my heart, and I didn't even know the pup. You are right, they become family. Sometimes closer than real family members.

649848 tn?1534633700
by Barb135, Jul 03, 2009
Well, here we are 2 weeks later and we ALL, including Frankie, still miss Heather.  It's really hard for my husband to hear and/or talk about Heather.  

But on the "plus" side - Frankie is showing her own personality; not what HEATHER told her she could be..  I had spent many hours of training with Frankie and now it's paying off.  She is very well behaved and no longer looks around to "ask Heather" if it's ok for her to do something.  

We will always miss our darling Heather, but we are all trying to move on.  Thanks to everyone who posted on this journal or sent PM's/notes - you have no idea how much I appreciate all your love and support....... When the times get tough, I'll be back with updates............

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by terrietoo2000, Feb 23, 2011
I have never been on this site before and I just want you to know how sorry I am for you and your husband. Its been a while and I hope you are healing with gods help. Our oldest is almost 18 and reading this tell me the panting she does is from pain even though she takes pain meds. she cant see very well or hear very well I just don't know what to do. How do you know its time. Sometimes she runs and barks with the grand kids and you think shes having a great day and then the next day shes back to laying around and panting.
Huggs to you and your family and I hope your heather is up in heaven running and jumping and having a great time, and you will be with here someday she will be waiting for you.

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