We took Bonnie to the vet today to be euthanized. Because we got to the clinic ten minutes before they closed for the weekend, we had to use a vet we didn’t know. She asked if we wanted to be present, and we were taken aback because we’re not the kind of people who avoid the presence of death. As the vet administered the fatal injection, Peggy lay on the floor hugging Bonnie and sobbing while I jabbered on about unrelated things, so you might say that I wasn’t any too present for death myself.

When we got home, the first thing Peggy wanted to do was to cuddle, but the first thing I wanted to do was to bury Bonnie. We waited overnight to bury Baxter when he died three years ago, and by that time, he was cold, stiff, and looked pitiful, so I wanted to get Bonnie in the ground while she was still warm and looked like she was asleep. I’ve been in so much physical pain that I worried that digging a grave would leave me worse-off, so Peggy helped.

Before the burial, I took Bonnie indoors and showed her to our cat because I wanted him to know why she went away. Maybe it didn’t help, but I’ve done that with other pets, and never saw any reason to think it was harmful. While Brewsky smelled Bonnie, I wondered if I could ever love him the way I’ve loved so many dogs. I can tell that there’s a lot going on in that little head of his, but I can’t usually tell what it is, and that leaves a gulf between us.

After the burial, I felt like I was in a movie in which happy images of Bonnie’s life ran before my eyes one after another. Things I hadn’t thought of in years came back like a vivid dream in resplendent color, and I beat them down as best I could. I wanted to be alone, so while I did yard work, Peggy called friends and relatives for support. I was surprised because Peggy usually avoids talking on the phone. After thinking about it for two hours, I took 25 mgs of oxycodone, and it cheered me considerably.

Some people don’t understand how anyone can grieve for a dog, but I’ve grieved more for dogs than for any of the people I’ve lost, probably because my dogs were with me all day everyday and were innocent and dependent.

Peggy won’t want another dog for years, if ever, but I already want one. On the other hand, the last three years of Bonnie’s life were tough on Peggy and me because Bonnie became blind, fearful, arthritic, and started to lose her hearing. People say that dogs adjust well to blindness, but Bonnie spent those years walking into walls and furniture, and it really got to me until I started taking Cymbalta and marijuana.

It’s also true that I started thinking of dogs differently after I had my shoulder surgeries. After two of those surgeries, Peggy was out of town for a week or more during the early stages of my recovery and, it being winter, I found it really, really hard to take two dogs (Baxter was still alive after the first surgery) walking in the seasonal drizzle everyday. I couldn’t dry them and clean their feet adequately with one hand; I worried constantly that they would trip me; and I had a hell of a time just keeping myself from getting wet. One day, a pit bull attacked Baxter, and I had to beat it off with one arm. Luckily, it was a young female and not too aggressive. 

After my third surgery, Peggy was out of town again, and Bonnie became ill with autoimmume hemolytic anemia. For at least a week, she was so sick that I expected her to die at any moment. She needed medicine every eight hours, but this meant having to shove the pills so far down her throat that she couldn’t spit them out, and I couldn’t do it with one arm, so my friends Ellie and Josh came over every eight hours. It was then that I started to think of dogs as a liability that I would be better off without. I also resented Bonnie because throwing tennis balls to her hundreds of times a week for years was probably what ruined my shoulders.

For the last two years of her 15 years and 7 months, not a day went by but what I wished she would die sooner rather than later because her infirmities were so upsetting, especially listening to her bump into things, which made me cringe every time she did it. Dogs need far more from us humans than most of us are able—or even willing—to give them, and I found this especially true of a blue heeler because blue heelers want to be on the move every waking moment. If she hadn’t been my dog, I wouldn’t have believed how much exercise she needed, and when she went blind, I couldn’t satisfy her need except by taking her walking, and my arthritic knees made even that difficult. I was afraid that when she did die, I wouldn’t enjoy remembering her because her last few years were so hard for me (they seemed harder for Peggy and me than they did for her), but I don’t think that’s going to be true. I think I’m going to remember her whole life.


lotta joy said...

I nearly lost my mind when my housebroken rabbit died 15 years ago. I was married to an emotionally vacant man and that damn rabbit did his best to fill the void.

17 years with our Bichon, he went blind, then lost control of his bladder. The euthanasia went bad in all the ways imaginable. My furchild suffered at the hands of this detestable vet and I hated everyone with all the venom in my heart.

Beau was dying when HE crawled up to ME. I would never have chosen another pet, but since it was HIS idea, I felt needed.

Six years later, and most of my worries center around what will happen to him, if something happens to me. That won't be good.

I am his ENTIRE world and he shows it with his tail and his expressions. THAT is why we mourn them more than the loss of another human.

Humans are filled with their toxic and harsh habits that affect us in painful ways.

When you lose a pet, you've lost everything that is good.

KC said...

My sincere condolences to you and Peggy. Losing a pet is like losing a close family member to me. We had to say goodbye to Ruby the end of January and I still think about and miss her everyday. I truly feel your pain and am so sorry for your loss.

Stephen Hayes said...

So sorry for your loss. I know people who refuse to be there when their pets are put to sleep but I've always been present. I feel I owe it to them for all the love they've given.

Travis Erwin said...

It's a tough thing. My condolences to both of you.

PhilipH said...

Sad to read this post Snowy.
Best wishes, and I hope you will find another Bonnie that will fill the void.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry. The wind their paws into your heart and take a piece of you when they go.

All Consuming said...

Oh Snow, my heart goes out to you both. She was a lucky dog to have had you two and you were both just as lucky to have shared your lives with her. Sending my love xxxx

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Oh Snow... I'm so sorry!

Pat - Arkansas said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your dear Bonnie. Hugs, Pat

vjack said...

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. This is something I will soon face, and I hope I can handle it half as well as you did.

Mim said...

you've gotta wonder why we love them so much, how much they mean to us - it's astounding.

my condolences to you and Peggy, it's a tough time.

AleO. said...

I lost my 12 year old cat about 2 years ago and it was one of the most painful and hardest things I had to endure. And to be honest, I still think about her.

From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry for your lost.

Lisa said...

Oh Snow, how I can relate. We have Ruby, our almost 13 year old yellow Lab and the finishing line is present and i can feel the pain starting already. Ruby has 'dicky' hips and her legs and joints give her trouble but her sight, hearing and overall health are perfect so it just comes down to when will her pain be too much for to bear. Right now she is out side wrestling with our little dog Trevor- how he will manage without her i'll never know. I am so sorry for your loss-the unwavering love of our canine friends is something we miss forever. xx lisa x

Lorraina said...

My condolences Snow, i'm so sorry you had to go through this, and it isn't over yet. But better this way than the opposite, right? You guys gave Bonnie a wonderful life and you'll never get over her. Even if you get another dog Bonnie will come into your mind always because she loved you and Peggy right to her last breath. I'm so glad she was your girl.You did the right thing for her as hard as it was to do; been there done that myself. Hugs to you both....


My sympathy to you and Peggy.
And yes,
you will remember her WHOLE life,
After all,
you were her WHOLE world!!

I lost Igraine in 2009,
and she remains present in my heart.
That little furball meant more to me than many human beings...

Take care!!

Rob-bear said...

Sorry to read this last chapter in Bonnie's life.

I've had to do this same thing for other dogs. It is never easy to say such a permanent "good-bye" to such a wonderful friend. But letting an animal live on, when it is in serious pain, just isn't right, either.

Hope you and Peggy adjust reasonably to this loss.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow and Peggy, my deepest sympathy to you both on the loss of your Bonnie. When our P.J. died, neither of us could think about getting another pet for four years. When we did get another pet, we got Jethro, and that is a good thing. Dogs look at us humans with love and trust, and it breaks our hearts when they go. I think some cats do this also but they're harder to read.

Marion said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Snow. Of course, you're grieving. I cried for a year after my 20 year old Siamese cat died. I still miss him. (It took 6 cats to replace him....LOL!) Love & Hugs to you and Bonnie. xo

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sorry, man. People deal with the death of pets in such different ways. A friend of mine had a cat that had been injured but recovered, but a new neighbor took the cat to the vet and the vet euthanized him. So horrible for my friend.

Robin said...

I never got beyond Bonnie's beautiful photo....I knew what happened....and I cried along with you and Peggy. I never *knew* Bonnie-Blue except for your posts and photos...but she was a beauty.
She had a LONG and LOVED LIFE! Great parents - that's you, Snow and Peggy! She may have lost her sight....but she still could hear and smell...

She will ALWAYS live in your hearts - as she will in those of us who know you and love furry ones.

Love and Hugs and yes, Strength....


♥ Robin ♥

Strayer said...

I've had cats here, dying of kidney failure or lymphoma, perk up in the weeks before they die, trying, I believe, in knowledge of death, to get the last little bit of joy from life they can. Never easy. I hate playing god and having a cat euthanized whom I love. But then again, I never ever want to end up laid out in a nursing home, bed sores, drooling, pooping myself. I want euthanized too before I get that bad. Why aren't we so kind to humans?

kylie said...

euthanizing a beloved pet is such a big call but i believe we owe it to them to make that call as well as we can.
i'm sure you did the right thing and did it with great compassion.
much love to you both

possum said...

I raed this post yesterday, but got interrupted before I could find the words to say to you... As I write this this morning, I have a little kitty sleeping away in a cage in the kitchen. My guess is Punkin slipped into a coma last night, renal failure, and I am hoping he does not wake up. He is so very weak.
Punk has been the official greeter here on Possum Lane for quite a few years. He arrived during Hurricane Isabel and has been here ever since. Punkie has always been a love-bug, refused to be ignored, was ver vocal as well as visible. Everyone will miss him who has ever come here.
I do not have dogs, as much as I have loved them. With my physical problems - as you have mentioned yours - I do not feel I would be able to care for one the way they need. Walking is out, carrying a sick dog would be almost impossible unless he was tiny, and I am not that much into tiny dogs. So cats it has been.
My heart goes out to you and Peggy.

Phoenix said...

I am so deeply sorry for your loss, Snow. There aren't any other words I know that offer any sort of comfort other than "I'm sorry." and then just shutting the hell up.

The Blog Fodder said...

Tough one, Snowbrush. I cried harder when we had to put down our injured Black Lab than I did when my wife died. Funny how dogs can get to you. But they show us what real love is about. Hugs to you.