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Friday, 18 September 2009

The Goodbye Day

By Lois Cochran of Guitar Grandma

Mike carried Lindy and I carried her favorite stuffed animal as we approached the vet’s office knowing that Lindy would not be going home with us this time. This time, we would hold her and stroke her and speak our good-byes softly and reluctantly.

I wonder how much she understands. She has always been so tuned in to our emotions. She always seemed to understand when I was feeling sad or worried or just tired. She would sit beside me on the sofa and lay her chin on my lap, looking up at me with those lovely, sad eyes. She could force a smile out of me every time.

When we were upbeat and in the midst of planning for company - maybe a family dinner - there was an extra little bounce in her step and her ears were propped up expectantly. She always knew.

I remember the day fourteen years ago when we found her at the animal shelter. We had already looked at several dogs and walked a couple of them, but none of them seemed to be “the right one.” We were almost to the car when Mike said, “Why don’t we go back in and look at the pup that was crated in the front office. She was kinda cute.”

“She was cute, but I think she must be already spoken for.” I said.

“Well, let’s just go in and ask,” Mike said.

We did. It seemed that Lindy had been at the shelter for almost two months. The girls brought her up front to spotlight her because she was very sweet and they were anxious for her to find a home. They were thrilled that we were interested and Lindy was thrilled when we put the leash on her and took her out for a walk.

She was such a spirited little thing with her ears perked up and her feathery tail wagging happily, as though she knew this was her lucky day. We looked at each other and smiled. The connection was made. She had found a home and we had found “the right one.”

Our vet told us that Lindy was probably a year old and would not likely grow much larger. And then he added, “She’s the perfect size, isn’t she?!” She was, I agreed.

Also, he doubted that she was a German Shepard mix as the Shelter had surmised. Her coloring was predominately black with a tan face and smatterings of white underneath and on her legs. Her eyes were slightly bulgy, rather like a Pomeranian but not that pronounced, and she had a black outline under her nose that looked like someone had painted a little mustache on her face. In short, she was beautiful.

Our kids were well into their teens when Lindy joined our family and, of course, they welcomed her and spoiled her (yes, it was their fault!) She watched them grow up, go off to school, get married and come home with babies. She was always delighted to see them when they came to visit and welcomed every newcomer with great enthusiasm.

Lindy never met a person she didn’t like. She adored visitors. We used to joke that if someone broke in while we were away, she would welcome them and show them where the silver was hidden. A watchdog she was not. A friend she was.

For years, Lindy and I went for a walk each morning to begin our day. We both looked forward to it and if, for some reason, it didn’t happen, I was made to understand that she was not pleased.

There was never any doubt when she was unhappy. Her tail didn’t stand tall and wave back and forth, rather it hung low and her entire body seemed to sag under the weight of her displeasure. Doleful eyes searched mine and not getting the answer she wanted, she would finally sink into a pile of fur and sigh deeply.

One morning, Lindy stopped at the end of the block and pulled the leash to turn around. She was ready to return home. This wasn’t like her; she was always willing to walk around the subdivision with me for twenty or thirty minutes. I tried to convince her to continue the walk but she was sure she wanted to turn back.

Our morning walks became shorter and often just to the end of the block. I would say to her, “Really, Lindy, if I can still do it, you can too.” But she didn’t agree and anyway, by that time, she wasn’t hearing much. She wasn’t completely deaf but she missed a lot. And her eyes were clouded with cataracts.

She was getting old and I didn’t want to know that. I didn’t want to know what the vet told us when we took her in. I didn’t want to make the decision that had to be made. How could I possibly say “goodbye?”

I looked into her eyes that day - that “goodbye” day - and she gazed directly into mine. She understood. She knew. But then, she always knew. I smiled and stroked her and thanked her for all of it. All of it. She was the "right one!"

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Lois,

My daughter had a wonderful dog named Benny. He was a Bernese Mountain Dog and was the sweetest pet we ever had.

Every time the kids were in the car and they wanted to stop for a sandwich at McDonalds, Benny would always try to get a bite but the vet had given strict orders that he was not to eat "People" food.

When he was very sick at the end of his life my daughter was told by the vet that he should be put down because he was in great pain. He could hardly eat anymore. The vet told her to bring him in the next day and he would put Benny to sleep.

On the way home they had to pass McDonalds so Carol went through the drive in and bought Benny two Big Macs all for himself. It took him a long time to eat them but he ate every bite and kept looking at her and his eyes were saying "thanks".

Your story of Lindy brought tears to my eyes but you were so lucky to have her for so long and she was lucky that you two went back in to the shelter that day and took her home with you....

We are the fortunate ones to have known and benefited from the unconditional love of such a species.
Thank you for such a warmhearted story.

Nancy - I love that! Thanks for sharing.

That was awesome!!! Thank you for sharing those tender thoughts about your pet.

The downside of dog ownership. We purposely got a dog who will out live us, and provided for her continued care. Still...the thought is a very sad one for her, Nikki, not us. There's no way one can measure the joy that a loving pet can bring to a household.

I have had several dogs that were exactly like Lindy. They knew what I was thinking and feeling almost as soon as I did. I know the heartbreak of having to have them put down.

My furry friends will be with me forever in my memory.

Thank you so much for this.

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