My Dog Is Long Gone, But I Sometimes See Him in My Dreams
We lost our furry four-legged brother, Gucci, last May. He came to us as a puppy and lived all 13 years of his life with us. He is missed by everyone at home and in the neighborhood.
On my parents' 24th wedding anniversary, we took a family photo. Gucci sat between my parents on the couch, while my sister, brother, and I stood behind the couch. I also insisted that Gucci come to my wedding. We all took pictures with Gucci, including me and my husband. Gucci loved my husband, too.
He has been in my dreams a few times, most recently this morning. I feel it is his way of talking to me.
The first time it happened, he was still alive. In my dream, I was at my house chopping veggies when my father called me and said, "Viji, please stay calm, I have some news for you ...." I didn't let him finish. I started crying and asked him, "It's Gucci, isn't it? He's gone." I stopped cooking and went to get my husband to go see Gucci when I suddenly remembered that it was my mother-in-law's birthday.
I woke up with a start, totally shaken. I didn't want Gucci to die! Two days later, on my mother-in-law's birthday, Gucci was fine, but I couldn't feel right until the day was over. Later I told my mom about the dream. It was very difficult for her to shake the feeling that "the event" in my dream was getting closer. Gucci was already 10 years old.
I got very nervous around my mother-in-law's next two birthdays, but Gucci was fine each time.
In 2011, however, his health had gone downhill. He had lost most of his fur, he had cataracts and arthritis, and he couldn't smell or hear very well. In November, my sister and mother took Gucci to the vet for the last time -- but the vet refused to euthanize him. I did not know how to react. We wanted to end his suffering, but God felt he still had some more time on Earth. His health was still getting worse, but he held on to life.
In May of 2012, Gucci was hit by a car. The vet gave him painkillers. Four days later, the vet told us that it was time to say good-bye, as his injuries were serious and pain meds were not a permanent solution. He asked us to choose a day to be Gucci's last. We picked May 26.
I went to see him one last time, on May 25. Gucci was sleeping in my brother's room. I called his name. He woke up, turned his head, and looked at me. I started crying, thinking about how the next day Gucci would be no more. I went home.
I could not stop crying. My mother-in-law said to me, "Viji, I know it hurts. I saw my father suffer. He was at the hospital for three days and I prayed to God to stop his suffering. I sat watching the monitor and could actually see his heart stop beating. It was an end to his suffering. The same is the case with your dog." I was stunned. She was not an animal-lover, but she compared him to her father!
The next day Gucci went to heaven. I was chopping vegetables when my brother sent me a text message. "It was very peaceful, quiet, and painless. Not a bit of pain. He is asleep now. Forever."
My mother, brother, and sister were with him. My brother brought a packet of bones (his favorite treat) and my sister's silk scarf (which he always liked to sleep on). We got permission to bury him in a place for small children and pets, near the beach.
I went to visit my family that evening. The house looked empty. Gucci's bowl and leash were not in their usual place. We all cried so much. My mother cried more than when her parents passed away. I cried more than when I had a miscarriage. Gucci taught us to love dogs, and he made our lives more joyful. We had lost a furry member of our family forever.
Last year, my mom said she wanted another dog. "No one can take Gucci's place," I said. My mom said, "He was my child. He used to sleep on my arm. No one can replace anyone else, but I want another dog."
And so a two-year-old yellow Lab named Coffee became part of our family. Coffee and Gucci are totally different dogs in terms of temperament and intelligence, but Coffee loves us as much as Gucci did, and she is my daughter's best friend.
Recently, I saw a rainbow San Francisco. It was Gucci's message to Coffee on spending six months with our family. Then I saw a double rainbow: It was Gucci together with all the angels sending wishes to all of us.
I will never forgive myself for not being with you at the end, Gucci. But I am sure of one thing -- you still love me as you always did. And I love you forever.
Viji is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Chennai, India, with her husband and daughter.