|Barked: Mon Feb 13, '12 12:52pm PST |
|On February 2, 2001 I went to pick out a six week old Labrador pup from an ad in the paper. Instead, amid the chaos of puppies barking, rolling, and chasing each other – one sweet little pup left the others behind and came and sat at my feet as if there was nowhere else in the world he’d rather be. It was that way for both of us for more than 11 years.
Last Friday, I had to make the hardest decision of my life to take my best friend for one last walk, one last ride in the truck with his nose out the window and have him put down by our vet. Jack was diagnosed with an inoperable liposarcoma in the gum just above his canine tooth in early September. The tumor grew to a massive size on his muzzle along with his neck lymph nodes being the size of baseballs at the end. The last two weeks of his life, the tumor, which had the appearance of a horrible burn on his muzzle that my hand couldn't cover as the skin just couldn't stretch anymore was raw, oozing, and looked so painful, but typical of my sweet lab, he was still living life to the fullest during the day. Labs are happy creatures and Jack was all lab in that respect. Our nights were different - hard time getting comfortable, pawing at the tumor even with the morphine we'd switched him to the last nine days - it was obvious how much it hurt then.
I'd known in my heart for at least 24 hours that it was time - the tumor was bleeding more and more, but how do you put down a dog that's still waggy and happy to be by your side? The vet had said it would come to this - that we'd have to make the call because of the tumor and not because of Jack being ready - so I knew that was our fate . . . but it's so hard!
The last morning, Jack had blood in his mouth after his dogfood soup as the tumor must have finally broken through the roof of his mouth. I know I made the 'right' decision, but he so wasn't ready . . he trusted me when we walked into that room . . . he didn't want to lie down on the mat, but he did - because it was me asking . . and as I held him and they injected the medicine - he struggled to get up. That's my last interaction with this dog I loved so much. I betrayed him. I made the right call but he trusted me and I betrayed him. I miss his presence so much it is almost unbearable, but it is nothing compared to the grief/guilt I feel knowing 'he' wasn't ready (I wasn't either - but it had to be done at that point)to go. I honestly don't think he ever would have been - that was just Jack but knowing that doesn't make it easier.
Is there anyone else out there that has had to go through putting down a beloved friend that was still happy and not ready? I would never have wished him the kind of pain and suffering that would have made my role easier - but I would love to know how to get past the guilt (even knowing in my head I did the right thing) of replaying those last moments over and over. My heart is broken and I feel so responsible. I don't know what I could have done differently - I just wish it WAS different. Thank you to anyone out there that can identify with what I'm saying and any advice you can give me to help me get through these dark days.
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