She is our sweet yellow lab who we got at eight years old. She turned 12 on Valentine’s Day.
In just four years, she became such an integral part of our home. We would drive up our driveway, and every single time, she would come running in front of our van and just stop. Our oldest son would have to get out of the car to get her out of the way. It became something we expected every time we came home. Seeing her adorable, happy face greeting us as we drove up.
We knew getting an older dog meant less time with her.
But she was the perfect dog for our family, and she needed a loving home.
We knew a few months ago that things may be turning for Babe. Her appetite would come and go. She would throw up at least 3-4 times a week. She had a large tumor on her leg that was the size of a small grapefruit, and she struggled with getting up once she was laying down because of arthritis.
We talked with our kids about what was coming and what kind of options we’d have. We all agreed that we wanted her to be put to sleep before her quality of life was so bad that she was in constant pain. And we knew we wanted to do it at home, on her favorite blanket, in our family room–where she would lay every day, surrounded by a house of bustling kids. We couldn’t imagine taking her to a cold, frigid vet’s office and leaving her there.
We all decided we would like to celebrate her 12th birthday on Valentine’s Day, and that we would let her go shortly after.
So, on her birthday, we threw her a party. We played with her, we gave her cupcakes and balloons, and we sang to her. It was a bittersweet day.
We called “Loving Goodbyes”
And we made arrangements with an incredible vet from a place called “Loving Goodbyes” who would come out to our house at a time convenient for us to euthanize Babe for us.
She arrived at our house, and I immediately knew she was the perfect person to be there. She was so gentle, so loving and obviously cared so much about this experience being as comfortable as possible for our whole family. She explained to the kids each step of the way what she would be doing, she cried when we cried, and she was the most kind vet I have ever met.
As soon as I opened the door, I started crying. I didn’t think I would start crying so soon, but I guess seeing her made me realize that this was real. I couldn’t imagine Babe being gone. =(
She spent a few minutes with us filling out paperwork, and then said she was going to give Babe a sedative so she wouldn’t feel anything, and would be completely relaxed. Sure enough, after about 15 minutes, Babe was relaxed, breathing comfortably, and pretty much just sleeping.
Euthanizing our Dog : The Process
Next the vet explained that she was going to give Babe a series of two intravenous shots that would slow her breathing, and eventually stop her heart. She warned us that Babe may jerk a bit, have rapid breathing or her legs may stiffen, but that it was all normal.
I was crying. My kids were crying. Even Superman was crying. I laid my head on her and waited…I could hear her breathing slow, and then it just….stopped. No jerking around, no labored breathing. She just peacefully fell asleep.
Babe was more than a dog to me. She nuzzled her way so deep into my heart, that she grew permanently attached there. When she died, I literally felt as though a piece of my heart was torn away.
I had someone ask me a few days ago whether I thought it was a good idea to have our kids in the room with us when Babe passed away. Wouldn’t it be better to just take her to the vet so they wouldn’t have to witness it?
As much as I would like to protect my kids from the pain of losing a dear member of our family, it was a deeply bonding family moment. I don’t know that I have ever seen our kids all cry about something. My kids are tough. Most of them tend to hide their emotions, especially when they feel vulnerable. To see them crying, weeping actually hurt my heart, but made me thankful. I realized that if we hadn’t involved them in this experience, they wouldn’t be able to fully understand the pain of someone losing a pet.
They felt it. It was hard.
It was so hard, I’d like to say I never want another pet again because I don’t want to ever have to go through that again. But euthanizing our sweet dog at home, with all of us surrounding her was the best decision we could have made for her. And involving our kids so that they can feel the incredible sadness is not something I did to hurt them, but to allow them to feel true emotions. I don’t want them to ever feel the need to run from their emotions.
God gave us the ability to feel so we can feel.
Babe was the perfect dog for us. I know she is up in heaven, running around with my relatives who have passed on, smiling and jumping and playing. But the pain I feel in my heart is real and raw and hurts. I know that will get better in time, but her memory will never be lost. Like I said, our hearts are welded together. One day though, we will meet again, and you can guarantee I will be smothering her with kisses when we do!