Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Empty Couch

On Monday afternoon, my daughter and I took our precious boxer, Toby, to the vet and lovingly caressed him as we had him put to sleep.  Grief for me is a very private thing.  I can't speak of my loss without crying, so I don't talk about it.  The hurt is so deep I tiptoe around it -- allowing myself to think about it only in brief increments -- until enough time has passed to soften the edges. 

But, tonight I must write about it -- in memory of Toby -- and let my tears flow in solitude.  You see, we had to make the choice to put this beloved dog to sleep -- at only five years old -- a strong, healthy boy, who we loved so much.  We have had some issues with food aggression between him and our Yorkie, which have been worrisome.  However, on Monday, as we sat at the lunch table with my little granddaughter, he snarled and lunged at her as she sat eating her peanut butter sandwich.  Peanut butter was Toby's favorite.  Fortunately, he didn't bite her -- just brushed her face, but we realized that we couldn't ever trust him with our little ones again.

What a terrible decision to have to make.  I have loved this dog since he was a tiny pup.  We have been through all sorts of health issues with him -- stomach surgery, cardiac issues -- and through it all we were there to hold him and love him.  He was a lap dog from the start -- and even took his last ride to the vet on my lap -- all 70 pounds of him.

My daughter is devastated -- he was her baby.  And seeing my precious daughter grieve intensifies my own.  There are reminders of him everywhere I turn -- I expect to see him jumping up into the air when I come home; the couch on the porch where he would stretch out and sleep brings tears to my eyes.  I can't get his face out of my mind as he passed from this life --

When you have pets, there are inevitable losses and grief, but somehow this is one of the worst -- there was no time to prepare for it, no illness or injury that made it necessary.  This was just a horrible choice that had to be made, and it will haunt us for a long time.

In the meantime, though, I will hold my grief closely to my heart, and in time, the pain will ease a bit.  I will be able to think about him and laugh at his crazy antics, and remember his soft, happy face snuggled against me as he slept on my lap.  But for now, I try to think of other things and keep busy, and deal with the little bits of pain that I can handle.  I was always the one to pull the bandaid off slowly and gently, never ripping it off in one quick pull.

Godspeed, Toby -- I love you!!

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