For the past several days, I’ve struggled to write. It seems I’ve lost my creativity, my motivation, my concentration. For those of who are subjected to my blog posts and Facebook statuses, you know I committed to taking the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge, meaning I pledged to write 50,000 words between June 1st and June 30th. When I went to bed last Monday night, I was ahead of my daily word count goal, weighing in at an impressive 30,000 words.
Unfortunately, when I went to bed Monday night, my dog, Rudy, who had been ailing for a while, made a turn for the worse. By Tuesday morning, he’d been up all night, unable to find comfort in any position—and I’d been up all night with him. On Tuesday evening, my family and I made the decision that it was time to let Rudy go, and we put him in the car for his final trip to the vet.
I awoke Wednesday morning, my face swollen from the many tears I shed during the previous night. I wrote this Haiku to express a fraction of my pain:
I open my eyes
And a bleak, sad day unfolds
I miss you, Rudy
These few, brief words do not begin to describe the pain I feel, or how much my family will miss him. Seventeen syllables cannot begin express the guilt I feel at that final betrayal—the moment I put him in the car and told him we were going for a ride. Had Rudy passed in his sleep, my sadness would have been just as acute, but I would have been spared the guilt and shame of making the decision to end his life.
Last Tuesday wasn’t the first time I was faced with the decision of whether or not to put my friend to sleep. Someone once told me I’d know when it was time. I’m still consumed with guilt and doubt, but my reasons for wanting to keep him around were selfish: I want him. I need him. I love him. I miss him. If I take the “I” out of the equation, my contemplation paints a different picture—a truer picture. He was in almost constant pain. He was suffering. He could hardly walk. He could no longer find comfort. His bad moments outnumbered the good. The pained expression on his little face implored us to make the pain go away.
Rudy’s passing has affected our lives in many ways, but his life—our lives together—affected us more. Our time together was precious, and though I hope I never have to relive the pain of saying goodbye to a beloved pet, I know I’ll do it all over again, because the joy an animal companion brings to his family is immeasurable.
I love you and miss you, Rudy, until we meet again.
6 thoughts on “A Sad Farewell”
I am so sorry. I truly understand, for I have had many pets that I had to make this choice on. The only good thing is knowing that Rudy doesn't have to suffer anymore, that you gave him a home filled with love. Just as your last sentence says, I have given in each time and brought another pet into our lives.
Tricia, beautifully said. It is so hard to make that decision, but I truly think it's the noblest thing to do. We bring a pet into our lives and vow to take care of it and love it, and I think putting an end to his misery is perhaps the greatest show of love. Rudy couldn't make that decision. He depended on you to help him end his pain. There should be no guilt or shame associated with that. Your decision was a selfless act. You did it FOR him, not TO him. When our pets leave us, they leave a hole in our lives. It's okay to be sad about that. You have to grieve for your pet just as you would any loved one. But don't grieve over your decision to help Rudy end his suffering. It's what they depend on us to do. Just know that you're his hero. Hang in there.
To lose a family member is very hard. My condolences and best wishes.
All I can offer you are hugs, Tricia. I've never had to put a pet down, but I have had to leave many behind. Leaving them behind is just as hard as losing them to death.
Thank you, Donna, Amy, Ryan, and Kay. Writing about it helps and so does knowing I'm not alone. You all have helped me make peace with my decision, but only time will ease the pain.
Pets are part of the family. It hurts when they die.