In fact as I came into the animal clinic a big burly man passed me on his way out in a hurry, with his red face wet with tears. Through the doorway behind him I briefly glimpsed a large yellow dog, his friend, laying on the floor with an IV in his arm. I assumed he had gone through what we were about to experience and my heart went out to him.
Who would think that rescuing a big tough-looking pit bull stray from our friends' yard would be the best and most loving dog we've had.
I couldn't have foreseen the emotions that this stage would involve. When the veterinarian gave us the options, we had keep in mind that the hope of possibly prolonging his life just a little while longer that he offered us could possibly cause prolonged misery for the one who depends souly on us for his welfare. It took mental work to push aside our own selfish desires, yet that sense of betrayal instantly takes it's place.
Within a few minutes we were practically choking on the sorrow of giving him comfort and support while he left this life, and us. While watching 13 yrs being snuffed out in mere seconds I wondered if we would be second-guessing this hard decision for some time yet.
Next, fighting abandonment when we had to leave his remains with strangers. Even though we know he's not there I guess it's hard to imagine him being absent from that form we became so attached to, and didn't want to let go of.
Now come the guilty memories of times we vented our frustrations, and didn't like taking the time to get his food ready or for walks & playtime. Feelings I know a dog is unable to hold against us but now seem to beat us up.
And of course the longest emotion will be dealing with that empty spot. It''s just a normal part of caring, to make a place for them in our hearts and routine when you interact with them all day every day. I still long to make him happy with a treat or a neck rub, missing his happy greetings and how he always wanted to be near me. Realizing he's not anxiously waiting to be fed or to be let outside. Still thinking you hear his tags jingle, and the neighbors dog barking makes you think it's him (just for a second),
Time seemed to move so slowly as our minds tried to accept this finality, but eventually just living life helped detract from too much wallowing. Wanting to give and receive the love and companionship to another animal again, and looking forward to give it the chance for a life that Scooby enjoyed helps even more. Never to take his place, but to fill some void that you can't explain even though you're life is already so full of love. He had a long happy life and we're thankful that his death was as short as we always hoped it would be.
Like everyone else we hate the pain that we know has it's part in preparing us to endure the certainty of other hardships. But if we don't let them build upon each other we will crumble under them.
I don't want to hurt whenever I look at a photo or a vacant spot, yet at the same time I don't want to forget all the love and joy connected to it. The years of good memories will always embellish our lives, but will also always give our heart those uncomfortable little tugs.
Taking the good with the bad is how we strengthen, and "learn to be content (cope) with whatever state we find ourself." Phil.4:11