“Somewhere in between the pace of life and work and where you’re going, something makes you stop and notice, and you’re finally in the moment.” -Come From Away
Man, nothing brings your world to a screeching halt like the moment you’re faced with saying goodbye to a pet.
No other way to say it, friends, today was a shit day.
It has been a hard year for our hound, Electra. We haven’t been able to ignore the signs of her aging—the wounds that have taken longer to heal, the arthritis flaring, the usual laziness slowly giving way to lethargy. Visits to our vet and a few new medications bought some time and some relief. But this week her breathing became labored and she suddenly lost interest in food.
We always said the day Electra stopped eating like Joey Chestnut trying to win the annual 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest would be the day we knew her time had run out.
I took Electra in for some tests this morning, and the doctor called me to come look at the x-rays.
“I hate to tell you but I have to be honest,” she said pointing to the shadows on the film. “Your beautiful girl has a great big heart, but this time that’s not a good thing.”
And the blood tests confirmed it—our sweet Electra’s heart is failing.
We talked about options and time, and what I kept saying over and over through my tears was that I never wanted Electra to suffer. And I knew we were standing right on the edge.
I spent the rest of the day sitting beside her, feeding her all the treats and scrambled eggs she will eat (which I hate to say is not very many compared to the legendary feasts of days past).
Mostly, I spent the day just hoping like hell that we gave her a good life, because damn this dog deserves it.
For all the fun we always poked at her for being a food whore and a rabbit killer, Electra is the finest dog that ever lived (and don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise because I will fight you right now).
She never barked obsessively at nonsense like doorbells and delivery men.
She never protested our kids grabbing onto her droopy folds of skin as they pulled themselves up and found their balance and learned to walk (in fact, we often watched her position herself strategically next to them and brace herself when she saw them reaching).
She never growled or snapped or made a menacing move toward any living creature (except a few rabbits and Foerth’s dog, Indy, but we all know Indy probably deserved it).
Electra never demanded anything but love and head scratches and food.
My Aunt Jen said something on the phone today that hit me right in the heart (of course I had to reach out and ask her for some reassurance that we’re doing the right thing; she’s the best vet I know, and I trust she’ll give it to me straight and not bullshit me). She said she’s always lived by the rule that she never wanted her pets’ last day to be their worst day, and every decision she has ever made to either try and manage the effects of aging or humanely euthanize has been made with that rule in mind.
I don’t want Electra’s last day to be her worst day. Our sweet girl deserves so much more than that. She has given us her entire life—love and laughter and memories and a million beautiful moments we will never forget.
Tonight, our hearts are hurting, knowing that tomorrow might be the last time we hold Electra and watch her sitting, regal as a queen, in the grass at the top of the hill with her hound dog nose stretched up high to catch a passing scent. But there is some small comfort knowing that we can take the time to make sure tomorrow is Electra’s best day—filled with warmth and love and as many treats as her big hound dog heart desires as we say goodbye and send her home.
My heart hurts for you. I know that day is coming for my Lucy, too, and it kills me to think of it. You obviously gave Electra an amazing life. You were lucky to have each other. I’m sorry. I’m sending you lots of love and strength and bravery. 😦
What a moving written tribute, and the pictures “sold” the story. I looked at every one carefully. I wish I had met Electra from the first photo I saw of her. What kind of dog will you find to love next?