11 Sep + It Sucks When Your Dog Dies – Déjà vu
Written September 10, 2013, 8:20 PM
Georgie Porgie Noisy Le Grand.
That was her name.
She was the Greatest Pyrenees.
Flashback to June of 2003. We were in Dallas for a small wedding. Super small. The reception was held in the kitchen of the bride and groom’s home. Out of the blue, one of the couples there asked if we wanted a dog.
Funny thing. On the five-hour drive up to Dallas, my husband and I had talked about how we were ready to get another dog after losing our ten-year-old little guy named Trouble. We asked a few questions. Important ones – from my husband’s point of view.
“Female.” This was good. My husband believes that female dogs have an inner sweetness, so he wanted to get a female.
“Half Great Pyrenees and half Chocolate Lab.”
Perfect. My husband wanted a big dog.
So, the following week, we drove to a farm in Georgetown to pick her up. She was the runt of her litter. Her eyes were too big for her head. She was a complete doofus with a cute smile.
We named her Georgie, since we got her in Georgetown. We added on “Porgie” because of the nursery rhyme. Noisy Le Grand became the rest of her name after the great aunt of one of my customers called me from France to inquire about a gift for her niece. The great aunt was from Noisy Le Grand, and we thought that was the coolest name.
Georgie Porgie Noisy Le Grand.
She grew up to be an 80+ pound dog. She had the best of both personalities – the guard dog in a Great Pyrenees and the loving family dog of the Chocolate Lab. The Lab in her also loved retrieving, so she was a very willing participant when we needed to eradicate squirrels that were infiltrating our house and chewing on wires.
At times she was aloof and didn’t want to be associated with the juvenile antics of her younger brother, Deus, and younger sister, Hildy. At other times, she sat up like a dancing bear and had Mommy and Me time with me, as her front paws held onto my forearms, and we just looked at each others’ eyes and smiled.
The day after Deus passed away (read about our guy here), she stopped eating. We thought she was depressed, but we decided to double check. We took her to our vet and were devastated to learn that her kidneys were failing.
How could this possibly be? We’d already lost one dog just 24 hours before. How could we possibly be dealing with this now?
Our vet told us to bring her back on Monday morning (after seeing her on Saturday) for fluid therapy. Her lab work would determine the next steps.
On Monday morning, I dropped her off and told her that I’d pick her up that evening after work. “Doc is going to give you medicine and make you feel better,” I told her. After all, I was sure that she was just a little down after losing Deus, so she’d be back to normal in no time. That initial lab work could not have been right.
On Monday after work, my husband and I met at the vet. My husband had misunderstood the vet’s instructions on Saturday. That kind of thing often happens when you’re getting instructions after receiving shocking news. The fluid therapy was for a solid 24 hours, so she wasn’t ready to go home. As long as we were there, he chatted with us for a bit and discussed all of the options. He would call me by 8:00 the next morning to update me on the lab work.
That night, my husband I planned for all scenarios. If she improves, we’ll bring her back on X day for her next check up. If she doesn’t improve, here’s Plan A and Plan B.
At 7:40 on Tuesday morning, Doc called. It was horrible news. Her numbers were bad. Not only had she not improved, but she had worsened.
With Deus at the Emergency Pet Clinic, the vets did not offer specific advice. They simply stated the facts and the options, then let us decide. We’ve been going to the same vet since 2000, so the conversation was a little different.
“In my personal and professional opinion, it’s time.”
“We were hoping to be there together for this. Can we do this tomorrow afternoon?”
“I wouldn’t wait.”
“I’ll be there at 9 AM. My husband will be there by 4:45. If she can’t hang on, we understand, but I would really like for my husband to be able to be with her.”
“You got it.”
I finished up my “must do’s” and was there by 9:00.
Remembering my experience with Deus just four days before, I:
*wore the same clothes I wore to be with Deus. They’d been washed, so they were clean. But I decided to wear the same outfit so I could donate it after one last washing. There’s no need to keep bad memories around.
*brought a pillow. I’d curled up with Deus in his crate and on the floor. I didn’t realize until after the fact that that hurt. I grabbed my oldest pillow and oldest pillow cases and brought that to be comfortable with Georgie.
*packed up Kleenex. I learned with Deus that t-shirt sleeves can absorb tears, but not snot. And a clinic’s priority is not ordering the softest tissues. So I packed my own.
*brought a lot of water. I remembered feeling so dehydrated from all of my crying with Deus, so I made sure I had plenty of water.
I was surprised when I arrived. Georgie was smiling. Her eyes were clear. Her tail was thumping. She sat up in her crate when I entered the room. This was different from Deus’ altered and lethargic state.
I stayed with Georgie for almost an hour. It was our final Mommy and Me time. I whispered happy thoughts and our regular funny sayings into her ear. Like Deus, she eventually fell asleep in my arms.
I bawled in the bathroom, out of earshot of Georgie. I got a big hug from the office manager. Like our vet, she’s known Georgie since we brought her home and had processed Deus’ paperwork from the emergency clinic, so she knew what we’ve been going through. And unfortunately, I knew what questions would come next. I knew we wanted cremation, and I knew my color choices of urns: black or white.
My husband has awesome co-workers, so when they found out what was happening, they covered for him for the last two hours so he could be with Georgie earlier.
It’s one thing to put a pet to sleep when he’s exhibiting outward symptoms. It’s another thing to put a pet to sleep when she looks perfectly healthy. That was really tough for him to see his dog smiling, with her tail wagging, yet agree to put her down. He had to remember that inside, she had shut down. She wasn’t eating. She wasn’t producing urine. She was vomiting. Nothing else could be done.
Georgie went to sleep.
It’s been a lousy week, having to put two dogs to sleep. As I write this, our third dog, Hildy, is curled up beside me. We’re trying to keep the same routines with her, but she keeps looking around for her brother and sister.
I noticed that my mood was very different today. I tended to focus on the negative. I had a short fuse with other drivers on the road. I was very cynical. It was a me I didn’t like. This needed to stop.
Everyone deals with grief in a different way, so it’s important to figure out what’s best for you.
For me, it was coming home. I had dinner in my retreat – my kitchen. I went on a walk with my hubby and Hildy. We spent the evening on the back porch, alternating between spurts of talking and periods of silent reflection. And I wrote.
My brother, whose 15-year-old Lab passed away three years ago, reminded me via a phone call of what I always tell my clients: It’s important to focus on the positive. So that’s what we did. We said positive things to Hildy and reminisced about the happy memories that we’ve shared with Georgie and Deus.
Georgie gave us over a decade of happiness. And we love her for that.
‘Night night, Georgie. You’re the Greatest Pyrenees ever.