By Judi Curry
As a mother, an Office Manager, and a School Principal I have been called on to make some difficult decisions. But no decision has been more difficult that the one I had to make just the other morning. The heartache and grief supersedes anything I have ever had to do.
I have had the most wonderful companion for over 10 years. He was born on my birthday many years after I came into this world. He was always so happy to see me; he always had a smile on his face; he never questioned decisions I made; never argued with me, and made me feel better after having a difficult day. That is why this decision is so hard to make. Of course I am talking about my Golden Retriever.
I’ll never forget the first day we met him at the Golden Retriever rescue in Temecula. We had just lost “Pal” – 4 days earlier, and we said we would never have another dog. Well, that didn’t last long, because when we looked up the rescue adoptions on line, there was a beautiful female dog – “Ginger” that practically called out to us.
When we went to see her – mind you, we were only looking because we would NEVER have another dog – the foster parents told us that she was a “nipper”, and with young grandchildren we would be better off with her companion, “Cody Bear.” We looked at “Cody Bear” and knew we couldn’t go home without him. We knew immediately we would have to change his name – they tell you to change the dog’s name anyway – because we had a grandson named “Cody” and we didn’t want any conflict. Bob wanted a name similar to “Pal” – and so “Buddy” was “born”.
Over the years he became Bob’s dog. I once said to Bob that if I ever got my own dog I would want him to “shadow” me the way Buddy shadowed him. (Hence, my new dog is named “Shadow.”) Buddy went everywhere with Bob. If Bob went fishing, Buddy was on the boat; he waited patiently in the car while Bob ran errands during the day.
You could always find them together. They swam in the pool together almost every day until Bob got too ill to swim. And then Bob died. And Buddy mourned as much as I did. I once took him to the Ocean Beach Dog Wash and another patron told me she had never seen a dog that looked as sad as he did.
Buddy would frequently go into the pool and just sit on the step – like he was waiting for Bob to come in and join him. When he became frustrated he would get in the pool. (Bob has been gone almost five years and a few months ago I opened a box of Bob’s that had some of his fishing clothes in them. I thought that Buddy would have a heart attack because he became so excited.)
During the past few years, however, he has turned his allegiance over to me, and he began to follow me as he did Bob. I noticed a year or so ago that every now and then he would slip as we were taking our daily walk. I cut the distance from 1-2 miles to ½ a mile. And gradually I noticed that even that distance was difficult for him.
I took him to the vet where he had x-rays that showed some deterioration of his spine, and was given pain meds to help him if it got worse. Since I was undergoing acupuncture treatment for a broken shoulder, I asked my acupuncturist what she thought about the same treatment for Buddy. She happened to know an acupuncturist that specialized in canines, and she gave me his number.
I met with Justin several times and Buddy seemed to be improving slightly – was it true or only my wish? – and when Justin was offered a full-time vet job, he told me about his friend John that was “better than I am” as an acupuncturist so Buddy continued his twice a week acupuncture with John and between that and the physical therapy he was undergoing with Trish Penick twice a week he seemed to improve.
And then – last week – he couldn’t stand. When he did he moved like a drunken man. He swayed all over the place; couldn’t keep his balance; and then, finally, could not get up at all. And at the same time he became incontinent. But he still had a smile on his face; he still was happy to see me come into the same room that he was in, but I noticed a very tale-telling problem. He could no longer wag his tail. You could see it start to move, but it just could no longer wag.
I called John who came out right away to check him over. He gave him a treatment, and while he was here Buddy was his old self. But only a few hours after John left, Buddy was lethargic; could no longer stand, and just laid down and slept, and slept, and slept.
I used to be able to get Buddy to do just about everything by giving him treats. Yesterday he didn’t want those treats. I will say, however, that I had lunch at “Raglan” and ordered two plain patties for him, which he gulped down like he had never eaten before. But again, he could not stand up; and continued to lay in his urine and/or feces until I noticed and cleaned him up and moved him.
His last night – he was so very uncomfortable. I could hear him try to move, and upon turning on the light, found that he only moved a fraction of what he was trying to do. It was time.
The agony of the decision kept me awake from 2:00am to 6:00am when it was time to get up anyway. I texted John and told him it was time. No one, animal or human, should have to live under these circumstances. I was being selfish in keeping him alive. It was for me, not for him that he was suffering.
So that night at 7:00pm both Justin and John were with me when I said goodbye to my love for the past 10 years. I can only hope that he finds Bob, Pal, Shalom and Lolly, and they will all be together awaiting my arrival. Perhaps the Poem “Rainbow Bridge” that my friend Jenni sent me when Pal died will help make the trek a little easier.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Thank you Buddy for a wonderful ten years. Please forgive me for keeping you just a little too long. I will miss you, your smile, your complete trust. Until we meet again. RIP