Jake, my Bouvier des Flandres, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2001 at the age of 7 1/2 yrs. and I put him to sleep in January of 2003. The loss of a beloved dog is never easy, but when it is spread out over a long period of time, it presents a unique challenge, because we just have to stare at them every day and try to figure out what’s going on with them. I hope my story will help others in the same situation.

It is hard to know when the time has come to say goodbye, because dogs instinctively mask symptoms of illness for as long as possible.

Our time came about 2:00 AM on a very cold Texas winter night. It was 22 degrees outside with a strong wind. Jake was insistent to go outside, so I let him out, but when he didn’t come back, I went out to search for him in the yard. He wouldn’t come to me as he had always done before, but ran away from me when he saw the leash in my hand. I had no choice but to follow him through the shrubbery until he finally gave up, so that I could bring him back into the house. I must have been quite a sight following him, with my robe flapping in the icy wind, but there was no way I was leaving him out there, and my mind was made up that I was going to win this particular battle.

When we got inside, he was shivering in an odd way that I have never seen before, so I sat down on the floor with him and held him until he stopped shaking. I then whispered into his ear that I understood, and that “Mommy would take care of it.” Afterwards, I turned on the fireplace and spent the rest of the night sleeping on the floor next to him.

The next morning Jake jumped up into the back seat of the car on his own power, and peacefully rode with me to the vet’s office. He actually seemed quite content looking out of the window, although he had a look in his eyes that seemed to be a bit gray, and focused on someplace far away. When we got to the vet’s, I stayed with him while he was gradually sedated, and when he was totally relaxed, he passed away peacefully while I held my face close to his and whispered in his ear that I was there.

I think that unlike us, dogs are not emotional about death, and simply understand it as a part of life. My experience with Jake taught me to listen to him in a new way, and although I miss him to this day, I can also say that there is nothing I would change about the way we spent our final hours together. Letting go is always hard for us as people, but I think dogs have a much more practical view, and that it’s important for us to set our own feelings aside and listen to them when they make their final request.

Carole from tX