That’s my Bonnie girl, curled up underneath the Christmas tree in 2006. She loved to lay under the tree like that, in a tight little ball underneath the lights.
She was an abandoned puppy, about eight weeks old, when I got her and her brother from a woman I worked with who did animal rescue. I had only planned on getting one puppy, but when we went to the house to pick one, there were five. Five! It was hard not to take them all home, but I settled for two. I named them Bonnie and Clyde…I know, I’m silly like that. My little partners in crime.
That’s Clyde on the left with the flying ears, I have no idea how he got his ears to stand up like that! He was the best boy, but he had a very crabby disposition and when little J was a year old, he turned and casually bit him on the side of his baby-soft head. OMFG! We were standing right there when he did it, it was not a bite to try and kill but more of a “You just piss me off, little baby who gets all the attention I used to get. So I’m gonna bite you…there!” Lucky for him I was able to find a rescue home for him, and she found him a home with someone who had no kids. He was a jealous little shit. I loved him but you can’t be chomping on my baby. He had to go.
But Bonnie…she was the sweetest, most loving dog. She had the patience of a saint with J, who like all small children went through phases of thinking dog torture was funny, scaring her was funny, just generally tormenting her was so. much. fun. And she bore it with rarely even a slight growl, though near the end she got totally fed up with him and would curl her lip at him if he really got on her nerves. She was my shadow, following me everywhere. Wherever I was, she had to be there. I got her two beds, one for my office and one for the bedroom so I wouldn’t have to be constantly moving her bed from one room to the other every day in order for her to maintain her proximity to me, which seemed to be the most important thing in life to her when I was home.
She had a good, long life. She was 14 years old, and she was healthy all her life. And then, she wasn’t. About a month ago, my oldest son noticed she had a big growth on her butt, underneath her tail which is probably why I hadn’t noticed it. I took her to the vet, she biopsied it, and it was a mast cell tumor. Very common, and normally it would be surgically removed and probably the dog will be fine, but it was too big and in too difficult a spot, she would be deformed if they attempted to remove it. We tried to treat it with chemotherapy, and for a couple of weeks she didn’t even seem like she was sick at all except she had this huge thing on her butt. But then it turned into a sore, and then her life just wasn’t a dog’s life anymore. It was the life of a miserably sick dog waiting to die.
I took her to the vet this past Thursday. You have to understand how much my vet, who has only been treating Bonnie since she got sick a month ago, had only met me a month ago, loved my dog from the minute she met her. She wanted me to take her to a canine oncologist, spend thousands on radiation and chemotherapy, treatments that probably would not have worked anyway and would have made her feel horrible. I declined. She took training she had to take in order to dispense a relatively new chemotherapy drug for her, that wasn’t crazy expensive and so I was willing to try it. And when I took her in on Thursday and said “It’s time, she’s done”, she didn’t want to believe it. She wanted to keep trying, in the face of the obvious that my girl was too sick and we needed to let her go. We needed to help her not be in pain anymore.
I thought she was judging me. She asked me “So, you’re sure this is what you want to do?”, very gruff-voiced. I said no, it’s not what I *want* to do, it’s what I have to do because she is in so much pain. She said you know it takes three to four weeks for this medication to work, and I said, ok, say it works, what are we gaining? LOOK AT HER, I wanted to scream.
She left the room to get me the paperwork to sign. I stood there with my sweet girl, crying now, talking to her, stroking her head and waiting, waiting, waiting. We had the last appointment of the day but there were still other patients there to see. She came back with the paperwork, the death documents that detailed everything, what it costs, what will happen, do I want her cremated or do I want her body…I can’t begin to describe how it felt to sign those papers.
The vet took my girl to get her ready, apparently you can’t be in the room with them while they insert the catheter that the drugs will be injected into. I waited to be called back to the room that my sweet friend would be put to sleep in.
I go into the room and she’s sitting up on the table, she’s always been such a good girl about vet visits, shots, having blood drawn, it’s like she doesn’t even feel it. I’m grateful for that. My vet tells me that she’ll give her a sedative that will relax her or maybe even make her go to sleep before she injects the real drug. She’s laying down on the table now and I’m holding her head in my hands, whispering in her ear what a good dog she is, how much I’ll miss her. The vet tech who has been holding her is visibly upset, I can’t imagine how hard this part of their job must be for them. The vet gives her the sedative and she starts snoring immediately, it’s almost comical. We are too sad to laugh, though.
They leave me alone with her for a few minutes, to say my final goodbyes. She’s asleep but the vet says “She knows you’re there”, I hope she knows I’m there. She is so peaceful, I haven’t seen her this peaceful in days and I’m so glad she isn’t going to be in pain anymore, even though it’s breaking my heart to say goodbye to her. I can understand people who try to hang on to their sick pets, but I believe there is a point where it’s our responsibility to do the hard thing and not allow them to suffer anymore. They can’t speak for themselves, we have to do this for them.
My vet comes back into the room and asks if I’m ready. I tell her yes. She says “I feel like the executioner”, and I realize right then that she hasn’t been judging me, she isn’t angry at me for giving up, she just couldn’t be the one to say it was time to let go. She needed me to do it, and I feel so much compassion for her at that moment, I suddenly know how hard it is for her to be the bringer of death. I tell her no, you are helping her, she has been in so much pain and she needs to let go now. She gives Bonnie the injection and tells me it will take a few minutes, but it seems like she stops breathing almost immediately. It is so peaceful, she just goes to sleep for good. I’m crying but I’m so glad that I was there when she passed, and that I made the decision to let her go. She is at peace now, my sweet sweet girl. I sat with her for awhile, it was very hard to leave her in that room even though she was gone. My vet and I shared a long hug, she will be my vet forever now. I have never had someone taking care of my pet who was so caring, she did so many things these last few weeks that she didn’t charge me for, just because she wanted to see my dog recover no matter how slim the chance.
I don’t know how long it will be before I stop expecting her to be barking when my car pulls in the driveway, or to be waking me up in the morning. To be following me around the house, getting under my feet, begging for treats or wanting to be petted. She’s everywhere in this house, and I’m going to miss her for a long, long time. Rest in peace, Bonnie. You were the best dog I’ve ever had. Miss you, my girl.