We were kneeling over her as the last few wheezes started to slowly slip out of her and the tension just dripped out of her muscles.
I think the saddest part was the drive over to the vet.
You could tell she was uncomfortable, but I think even dogs are smart enough to recognize when they’re headed to their demise.
And so, there was a little fight in her.
When we brought her to the vet, we were all crying in our own little ways but I think my mom was the most affected by seeing her go.
Distance — especially when you’re a few thousand miles away and you only spend time with things a few times out of the year — can certainly make you numb to the pain of loss.
She’d been suffering for a while, it seemed.
First, the uncomfortable lumps and bumps that peppered her skin. She’d developed the nickname “miss lumpy and bumpy” as a result.
Then, as more and more time went along, she had difficulty walking.
We learned, after a few months or maybe years that her right rear leg had a torn ACL and that made it insanely difficult for her to get upstairs, let alone sleep.
And then it was the constant heavy breathing, almost to the point of exhaustion.
She never stopped eating (or drinking) but it always seemed like she was uncomfortable.
Like she couldn’t sleep.
So we had to put her down.
The doctor slipped her her the first two shots, which were simply sedatives to calm her down and eventually she just bowled over like a baby who hadn’t figured out how to walk just yet.
And then after a while, she came back in and asked if we were ready and we nodded our heads because it was time.
She was shaking the entire time but apparently, that’s normal.
Then the doctor started to slowly give her the lethal injection and we watched as her breaths became deeper, in some ways, and shallower in others.
And eventually, after a minute or two, the last one.
“Is she gone?” My mom asked.
And the doctor put her stethoscope to her chest just to make sure and nodded.
This was the 3rd dog I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having to put down, and it felt like the easiest in some ways.
Which is why I felt the most okay to watch it happen.
When the first dog that I’d ever lived with — Tyler — was put down years ago, we didn’t watch.
That would’ve been too painful.
This one felt easy and almost transactional.
Death is funny in that way.
When it’s sudden, it’s tragic, but when it’s expected it’s simply part of life.
But the weird thing is that anyone and anything in your life can go at any time.
That we don’t really have as much control over our fates as we’d like to imagine.
When my uncle passed away a few months ago, I thought about all of the times I could have called him more, wrote him and spent more time with him (and with family, as a whole).
I certainly had some guilt surrounding that and I think I still do.
But I’d like to think that I tried, as much as I could.
And that I do the same when I’m with family and around people who I love — I show up, even if I’m pissed off and I hate everything.
This isn’t an article extolling all of the virtues of spending every moment with somebody as if it’s their last or cherishing every second or being fully present all the fucking time because that’s impossible.
If you’re a human, then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
But it is one about accepting that even when things are amazing and life-changing, they almost always have a finite existence in your life.
People, relationships, and dogs, certainly.
And so, I don’t think anyone should ever expect themselves to be fully present and always-on and there for people all the time when they’re struggling.
All you can do is try.