On Monday, I had to say goodbye to my dog Jack. He was two-months shy of 17 years old, five of which I was his owner. I have had dogs before and have also experienced the grief and heartbreak that comes with making that decision for them, and saying goodbye. But this time it felt different because unlike my other dogs— Rummer and Snoopy— Jack was not sick; his age simply caught up with him. It was not a decision made because an illness was taking him. This time it was about dignity. Last Saturday I went to the vet, we discussed it and he agreed that it was time. That confirmation hit me like a truck even though I was prepared for the possibility. Here it was— that moment I have read about when you are called, as a responsible dog parent, to make that ultimate gesture of love for your canine companion. And so I did.
Saying goodbye to Jack Frost (as I called him because he loved snow) had the crushing power of Snoopy and Rummer’s death all roll into one, and it waited the entire weekend to hit me like a jackhammer. But instead of letting that rule our last day, I spent it with Jack doing what we love to do most— snuggling and watching Hallmark movies. I spent Jack’s last few hours alone with him. I gave him his pain pill, cuddled with him wrapped with his favorite knitted blanket, which he marked as his last summer on the same day I bought it. And I fed him venison and ice cream— he loved it. Then the light snow started falling and I thought of how appropriate it was for a dog who loves snow to have snow on his last day on this earth. We went out for a little walk and then he wanted to eat snow... and guess what? I let him.
Then with his dignity unbroken, we went to see Dr. Murphy. As he drifted, I rubbed his fur, especially that spot on top of his head that always seemed extra soft. I tried to memorize the feel of his fur on my fingers. At that moment I wanted to say “Stop! I haven’t had enough time with him!”, but he was ready. He was tired. As he drifted, I told him he was the best doggie ever and that it was my honor to be his mom. That I hope he knew that his other parents loved him to the moon and back. I thanked him for being such a good boy... and then it was over. He looked like he did a hundred time when he was asleep— peacefully slumbering with the little tip of his tongue sticking out. I could see those little Wheaten teeth and I chuckled; and then the dam of tears opened and my heart broke into a thousand pieces.💔
The next day was even worse as I had to face the reality, as I looked at his things, that he is not here anymore. A wet spot on his bed where he drooled in his sleep served as a reminder that hours ago he had been here with us. And as hot tears streamed down my face while I was cleaning his food bowls, still holding pieces of chicken he left the day before, the doorbell rang and a parcel for me was delivered. Flowers. Beautiful flower from another friend and fellow Wheaten terrier momma. When I thanked her via messenger on Instagram she said “One thing I know, you LOVE dogs and flowers. I hope these make you smile.” She knows me well.
‘Pink Ice’ protea, pink stock, ‘Cymbidium’ orchids, light peach roses, amaranth, fresh eucalyptus, lilies and Bronze Football mums… all beautiful and vibrant. It is the blessing of a gardener that the gift of flowers can bring such joy even at moments like these.
The beautiful burlap-wrapped flowers just lifted my broken heart. They are bold in color and with such personality... just like my crazy Jack had. And as I smiled, I knew that eventually, some day, I will be able to think about Jack without falling apart.
I have heard that the pieces of a broken heart grow back together and make space for more love. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to give love to another dog— I know I will. But Jack’s death just broke me hard. And I think part of it, is that he represents one of my last connections to my life before I got married three years ago. He was with me for 5 years, but so much happened and it felt like he was with me for much longer. His departing literally took my breath away. Now here I am, going between moments of calm and moments of straight up ugly-crying, but I continue to live and will continue to strive to be the awesome person Jack, as well as Snoopy and Rummer, saw me as. ❤️