Saying Goodbye

I’ve never been one of those people that treats my dog like one of my children.  My dog is just my dog.  That being said, we are definitely dog people.  We got Casey when Spike was a year old, so all of our kids have grown up having a dog in their lives.  They have never known life without a dog.

Until now.  Last Monday, Casey started bleeding.  From several places.  And she didn’t stop.  I took her to the vet, and they did some blood tests, and determined that she had a bleeding disorder that caused her blood not to clot.  She would “ooze blood” for the rest of her life, which wouldn’t be long anyway.  She would lose more and more blood until she became so anemic and so weak that she would just pass away.  The best bet would be to put her down, so she wouldn’t suffer. 

It wasn’t a hard decision.  Casey, while she was 13 years old, had never been sick.  She still acted like a puppy most of the time.  She loved to camp with us, chasing mice in the fields and sniffing all the new smells along the riverbanks.  She went to Christmas at both families’ homes with us, and was playful and happy.  When we had a big snow a couple of weeks ago, she was out tromping around with us in it.  She was a great dog.  We didn’t want her to suffer.  We didn’t want our kids to watch her bleed, and get weak, and be sick.  We wanted her to be able to just go to sleep peacefully, and for us to be able to remember that playful, frisky dog we’d always known.  I made an appointment for the next morning, so that I could bring her home first and we could all say our goodbyes.

The kids were, of course, a mess when I told them.  Spike, almost 14,  was the most upset…almost inconsolable for a while.  Casey was, after all, officially his dog.  Blondie, who is 9, cried and was sad, but asked when we could get another dog, because she just “doesn’t feel right” having no dog at home.  Goo, who is only five, understood and cried, and said that he didn’t want Casey to die.  And Sarge and I had our moments of tears as well.  I felt almost silly, crying over a dog.  But she was part of our family.  She loved us unconditionally and asked for very little in return.  She made us feel safe in our home at night, especially when Sarge was away on TDY.  So yeah, we cried.

It’s been a week now, and we all miss her.  Sarge and I miss hearing her snore as she sleeps on our bedroom floor at night.  We miss having her come up and put her head in our laps in the evenings while we watch TV, wanting a little attention.  We miss watching her chase squirrels in the front yard and seeing her fall asleep with her head on her favorite toy, a stuffed monkey.  We even miss her begging for food while we’re eating dinner.  We just miss her.

It took a little longer for the kids.  They cried when they found out that she was going to die.  They cried as they said their goodbyes.  And then, they were okay.  They would forget sometimes.  They would ask if they could give the last bite of their hot dogs to her, and then they would remember.  But they seemed okay.  And then last night, I put Goo to bed and he called me a few minutes later, which is unusual for him.  When I went in, he was crying hard and asked if I would sit with him for a few minutes, because he was “really, really sad right now.”  When I asked what he was sad about, he said that he didn’t want Casey to die.  It hit him that she was really gone, and he lost it.  Poor baby.

Sometimes it feels like there’s a little ghost around here.  I’ll hear a noise and think it must be the dog scratching at the door to come in.  Or I’ll see something out of the corner of my eye and think it’s her, until I remember that she’s not around anymore. 

Someday, we’ll get a new puppy.  Maybe in a few months.  But Casey will always be my kids’ “childhood dog” and she will always be part of our family.  And I think there will be a part of us that will always miss her.