How do you make one of the hardest decisions of all for your dog? When is the right time to say goodbye? The more you love your dog the more you want her to be with you but maybe that’s what’s best for me and not for her.
Pixel has been failing rapidly over the past few weeks. She has terminal cancer which is seriously affecting her skin and joints. Daily I have watched her for signs that she has had enough. Each morning my heart is in my mouth when I see her lying so still but every day she looks up, thumps her tail and drags herself from her bed to join me outside. Every now and then she’ll stop on the steps and concentrate hard before scrabbling up. Not infrequently she stumbles, until a helping hand behind her keeps her stable and heading in the right direction. Once outside she rolls with obvious pleasure on the gravel drive and then again on the grass. As the days pass she is slower and slower to stand up again and limps heavily as she plods back for her breakfast.
I’d been waiting for the day when she wouldn’t be able to get up or would decide she couldn’t face her food but actually I wasn’t facing things at all. When I really thought about how she must feel I know that, being the faithful loving dog she is, she would never give up trying if she thought it would please me. If she couldn’t stand up or eat she’d have to be so very ill and it would distress her more than I could bear. Waiting that long would be selfish of me so Pixel has enjoyed a final few days of love and spoiling from all of us at home and the decision was made that she won’t have to struggle any more.
Pixel has been a once in a lifetime companion for me. As a young pup she never sat still. Her favourite games were dashing though dry leaves, digging in the snow and collecting pairs of socks which she’d gather up in her bed into soggy piles. She was a nightmare to house train, fancied her chances at catching one of next door’s squawky hens and once or twice took herself off for walks if she thought the time was right. However, she grew up into the most loving, focussed and obedient dog I have ever owned. She always understood which toys were hers and which belonged to my children. She was so well mannered she would walk beside me with no lead at 6 months of age, and most of all she was always there through all that life brought to me and my family over the past 13 years. Only Pixel really witnessed and shared how I felt in the darkest times. Her head would be on my lap when I cried and she and I would run and run together until the clouds passed and the sun shone again. She was there for the best times too, smiling in her lopsided way with her tongue lolling.
She had the utmost confidence. Always polite and calm but never submissive, she was always able to tell me when other dogs were afraid or angry, far better than I could do alone, so was invaluable when I visited problem dogs. On many occasions she’d trot up to a snarling and leaping animal, calmly invite it to play and off they would go bouncing over the grass. The ones who made her nervous would be politely ignored.
She loved people most of all and one of her favourite outings in later years was to go to visit the sick in a local hospital, where she’d stand, waiting patiently for recognition or a touch, waving her tail slowly when it finally came, as it nearly always did. She was relaxed under any circumstances, as long as she was with her family.
These last two days she doesn’t want me to leave her side and will try to follow me unless she is sleeping. We’re all here with her now. Arthur and Cookie are lying pressed against her and Porthos the cat is curled up next to her warm belly. My foot is numb where her weight is on it but that’s OK. She knows we’re here and she’s content. Her foot twitches from time to time and her lip moves. She’s running again, possibly after that hen. I hope she catches it this time. I owe you so much and you’ve made me a better person.
Sleep well Pixel.