It happened a few days ago.
Maddie had been feeling great. She was happy and bouncy and in every way had been feeling like her old self. We didn’t know the end was so near.
We went to the brewery for dinner that night and when we got home I noticed she wasn’t super interested in eating and didn’t want to go for a walk. This was cause for alarm for sure but it had happened a couple times since she fell ill and she always bounced back within an hour or two. By the time I realized that she was really going downhill it was around midnight and my big, beautiful, athletic dog couldn’t walk.
We debated taking her to the emergency vet but her condition was deteriorating so quickly that I didn’t think she would last very long. If she had been able to walk under her own power we probably would have taken her in anyway – but she couldn’t. And picking her up, carrying her to the car, driving her to town, and taking her to a vet that she didn’t know in the state she was in seemed like it would be too much. So we laid on the floor with her and loved on her until she was gone.
In the grand scheme of things it was mercifully quick – and I will be forever grateful for that.
That was a couple days ago now and we’re all doing really well. I suspect that we had done a lot of the grieving over her illness before she actually died. That limbo time was hard and knowing its over and that she’s not suffering anymore feels like a bit of a relief. The day after she passed was full of tears, especially when we had to drop her body off at the vet so she could be cremated, but every day has gotten better. Our house feels oddly empty even though we still have another dog and three year old human romping around. Something feels missing. I suspect that it always will.
The afternoon after Maddie died we knew we needed to get out of the house. One can only sit on the couch and cry for so long – at some point you have to get up and do something. I had bought some cans of dog food for Maddie as a treat and she never got to eat them so we decided to drop them off at the shelter. To be honest, taking the cans in was just an excuse. We all needed some puppy therapy.
As we walked the rows of kennels we felt our spirits start to lift. What could have been a sad reminder of the family member we lost really helped us look forward. It doesn’t hurt that the shelter in our town is the happiest I have ever been to. The dogs there are well cared for and get adopted fast. Forget cycling, running, and climbing – the most competitive sport in Boulder is trying to adopt a dog from the pound. It’s a happy place and watching new families be built made us all feel so much better.
People have asked us if we are going to get another dog and the answer is a resounding yes. It might happen next week. It might happen next year (although I suspect it will be much sooner than that). We will never stop missing our girl and no dog will ever be able to replace her – but we are a two dog family and our lives are better with all that love.
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts, emails, and messages over the last couple weeks. It’s been hard, really hard, but knowing so many people “got” it helped immeasurably. There will surely be a long and rambley memorial post coming at some point but I haven’t sat down to write it yet. It will happen eventually.
Rest in peace, my sweet girl. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog.