the beautiful ones

I haven’t written for a while. I haven’t done much at all. I get up in the morning, when it’s just about still the morning, and sit for a while. My head hurts and I feel so tired, like I could sleep for a thousand years. After a while, maybe an hour or so, I decide I could make breakfast. So I make breakfast, and I eat breakfast, and I cry. I cry because it is awful to be able to eat breakfast without my dog sitting by my side, looking up at me with hopeful eyes, drooling onto my knee. I don’t know how to get through the days without him.

He wasn’t ever my dog, really, but he needed me. I wasn’t his owner, but his owner wouldn’t walk him, play with him, fuss him, love him – and I would. I did. We had so many games together. I taught him to leap up six feet in the air. He could do backflips and long jumps. We would play hide and seek – I’d hide in the kitchen, and he’d come looking for me, then I’d leap out and chase him. We would walk five or six miles a day in the woods or the park. He liked to walk in the long grass, gently nosing his way through. He was a little nervous, very greedy, a bit too keen on muddy puddles. He was a good dog.

Over the years, we grew more and more attached to one another. He became my dog, and I became his person. It fell to me to decide the hour of his death. That was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I’m pretty sure I got it wrong. It was too soon. It was traumatic.

I don’t think I really understood how much we belonged to each other until I had to let him go. I am bereft, I’m grieving. I’m angry, because I didn’t choose to have a dog at all – I felt I had no choice. His owner should have been the one to love him, care for him, in the end to make the decision to let him go. They should have the responsibility, the pain and guilt, not me. But I am the one who loved him – so it had to be me. He was mine, not because I bought him, rescued him, owned him, but because I loved him. I don’t think I ever experienced unconditional love in my whole life, except with a dog. He didn’t care what I looked like, if I could write, if I had holes in my shoes, or a bad attitude. He wanted to hang out with me all the time, play games and have fun. It was simple. (It was love.)

After he died, I went for a walk to our usual places. It was pouring with rain. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t get my breath. I pretended he was with me, walking next to me. I spoke to him, how I had always spoken to him, calling him back to me, telling him I was there next to him. (“It’s all right, I’ve got you.”) My heart was breaking, splintering into pieces. It was all an accident, me and my dog – we weren’t meant to belong to one another at all. This should have been somebody else’s story. But I’m glad it was me. It hurts, and I am so lonely, but only because I loved him so. For all my heart is broken, I’m glad it was me.

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7 Responses to “the beautiful ones”

  1. Hello Georgina

    There is nothing much I can say, in my feeble efforts to make heartbreak at all bearable, or something to be got through. But I, too, love a very good dog, play those games, take those walks, and cannot imagine ever not doing them again. That is something I doubt any of us who have and love a dog ever dwell upon. It was all the more poignant that your dog was not initially yours but yours because you loved him and gave him the love and care he deserved. You weren’t cruel or rotten to him and no time is ever a good time to be the one to make the biggest decision of all.

    Please try to take some comfort from the fact that you did give him love and fun and interesting walks and games. In short, a happy life – something he’d never have had from the original so-called owner. Working at an animal hospital as a volunteer, I saw owners having to deal with making the dreadful decision all the time. Yet it never ever got any easier to deal with. Tears will help, so let them go and take those walks. Forgive the cliche but nothing and no-one can take your memories away and I know you will cherish them.

    Heather x

  2. Marie says:

    Everything Heather said is right and true. It must feel so raw and so intensely painful. But if you will allow yourself, I hope you can let go of that guilt – your decision was made out of love and compassion, and you gave him a wonderful life. x x x x

  3. george says:

    Thank you both for your lovely comments.

    I’ve really had so many kind fb comments, tweets, texts, calls, emails – I’m very touched by it. It amazes me (in a good way) how much people love their animals, and how many people have been through what I’m going through at the moment. I wish animals lived longer. I think it would be a very different world.

  4. Priya Sharma says:

    Dear Georgina,
    I’ve just seen your sad news and wanted to send you my love and best wishes. Sometimes there just aren’t the right words.
    Priya.
    xxx

  5. george says:

    Thanks Priya. I appreciate it x

  6. Trish Smith says:

    Hi Georgina,

    My cousin Marie Wilkes gave me a link so i could share with you my sad story that happened on Friday. I had to say goodbye and put to sleep my beloved 12 year old dog Mitzi. She was diagnosed with a tumour on the spleen back in June, yes she could of had surgery but because of her age, chances of surviving an operation and post op care was very slim. So i decided to let her have a good quality of life even if it was only 5 months and although i tried to prepare myself for the time i would have to of said goodbye, nothing could prepare me for the sad day i had on Friday 23rd nov 2012.
    Thursday night she stopped eating, threw up a few times and became a bit wobbly on her feet. At one point making funny noises while exhaling, so my brother came over and he said how thin she had got and wasn’t her usual self. So that night she slept on my bed with me and we had our last cuddle together. Friday morning my brother collected us after i had spoken to the vet and drove us there. She normally makes a high pitched noise when in a car because she get excited but the noise was not really made, just a little squeal but not the norm. So i knew she was not her normal self. I had a long chat with the vet and she gave me three options, operation, meds to stop her being sick…but she will still get worse or the kindest option to put to sleep, but learning she had lost 1 kg a week since her last visit 7 weeks ago (26 kg and was know 19kg) i knew i had to let her go.
    I miss her so much as it was just her and me in our flat, no dog to wake me up with a lick or cold nose in my face or even a moan in the middle of night because she needs a wee in the cold weather.No morning and afternoon walk anymore. I know i have made the right decision but feel guilty with getting on with my life and she is not there to share it with me. After reading your blog it has given me some comfort in knowing i did make the right decision and even if it has been 2 days since i lost her i hope in time i will feel better.
    Thank you Georgina (and of course Marie Wilkes for directing me here)

    Trish Smith x x

  7. george says:

    Hi Trish,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you have had to let your best friend go. I hope it comforts you to know that you made the best, most loving decision you could. It is a tremendously difficult, heartbreaking time. I remember spending days and days crying, in intense pain and sorrow, unable to encompass the enormity of the loss. It does get easier with time, but I still miss my dog every day and I am still grieving. Those who have not had that closeness with a dog do not understand what a great and special bond it is, and how devastating it is to let it go. It is the sad price we have to pay for having animal companions and friends. My hope for you is that you are able to find another dog to love. I think it does make things easier and gives comfort. Take care of yourself during this difficult time. Love, George x