Wednesday, February 25, 2009

adult decisions

A good way to avoid hurt and sadness in life are to stay away from a few signs. #1: when Facebook says Single, looking for a relationship. #2: when a sign says House-broken dog $60. But then again, It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

My poor little puppy, Heidi, died today. We had to put her to sleep after she fell last night. She had fallen down a flight of stairs this past summer and injured her hip. It had taken her several weeks to be able to stand up on her own and she had deteriorated a lot. The entire 12 years that she was with our family, she acted like a full of life. But the last 6 months she was struggling to get off of the floor from a lying position, she walked really slowly, she was getting cataracts, and she was not hearing as well.

So last night she was jumping up and down (forgetting that she wasn't a puppy anymore) and fell down, injuring her other hip. She laid on the ground, unable to get up, panting heavily and crying. She was unable to go to the bathroom since 6pm the night before and had thrown up twice.

I found out about it on my way to Ames last night and was hysterical. I was going to drive home, but decided that I was too tired and too upset to be driving. So I slept (or tried to sleep) for about 5 hours and then drove back home in the morning. My sister arrived later in the afternoon. We just held Heidi and cried, brushed her, and lavished her with attention. She calmed down a lot when Emily arrived. (I think Heidi always thought Emily was one of her puppies.) She licked up in the face when we cried and just rested in our laps.

It was so hard to see my dad's reaction to her being so hurt. He obviously loved Heidi very much and felt helpless. He would support her belly and help her to limp around the yard. He carried her to and from the house. Eventually he just sat with her on the kitchen floor for 2 hours, petting her, staring at the wall.

He had to make an adult decision today. These decisions are not easy because you have to make them based on what is best, not on what you want. I admire my dad's bravery so much.

After Emily arrived and had spent some time with her, my dad's friend Dave came over to help my dad take her to the vet. We walked Heidi around the yard one last time with a towel under her belly for support. We were all relieved when she was finally able to go to the bathroom with the towel support. After Emily and I hugged Heidi for the last time and she gave us each a good lick in the face, my dad carried her to the back of the van where he had prepared a little bed for her. Dave sat back there with her to comfort her. Emily and I stayed home to talk about Heidi and the good times we'd had with her.

An hour later my dad returned. Alone.

The vet had given her a full exam. Apparently Heidi had dislocated her good hip. Both of her hip muscles had atrophied to the point that they were almost useless and would be unable to regenerate, so she wouldn't be able to walk again. She had fatty tumors in her abdomen pressing her hip joints back, making it harder to walk. She also had severe osteoarthritis in her joints, making walking very painful for her.

At age 12, surgery would be too much, and their wasn't really a surgical option anyway. The only thing we would have been able to do was to have a doggie wheelchair made that she would have to sit in and use her front paws to propel. This would not solve the pain of her dislocated hip or her osteoarthritis, however. So, we had Heidi put to sleep.

I've never seen my dad cry. I've seen him tear up twice: today and when Emily left for Europe for 6 months. I only know about him crying twice: with each time we had to put a dog to sleep. He said he cried like a baby and they had to bring him a box of Kleenex. But it was a peaceful death for her and she went about 10 seconds after the injection.

I don't think I've every cried so much in my life. I pretty much cried all last night and all day today. Heidi wasn't just a dog to us, she was truly a member of our family. I feel as if I have lost a sister.

She was such a good dog. She had her naughty moments, but they were all pretty funny to look back on. Like the time she stole our pot roast from the counter top and dragged it under the kitchen table. Knowing she wasn't supposed to have it, though, she just licked it for a little bit. When we discovered her with it, she sent herself to the basement before we could send her there ourselves. :)

There's a lot of good memories that we shared and laughed about together. As much as it hurts to have her gone, I am so glad that she was with us for the past 12 years. She has showed me so much about what unconditional love is. I will miss her so much.

Jesus, thank you for Heidi and for the time you gave us with her. Please heal our hearts and help her memory to live on.

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