I just finished reading your book and just had to write to you and let you know how sorry I am for your loss of Sprite. I do know what you are going through as we (my family) had to put our beloved Basset mix, Patches, down Nov. 7th, 2006.
In June of ’94 I was recently discharged from the Army. Just before I left the base a friend came up to me and asked if I would stop by someone’s house off base and pick out a puppy and take it when I leave. He was afaid the puppies were being abused and didn’t want the pups to suffer. I told him I would take a look and see but no promises because I had know idea where I was going and whether or not I would be able to have a dog. He said to take a pup and then give it away to a family that you can trust. I said sure. I stopped by the house on my way out and saw underneath the porch a cardboard box that had the pups and asked the person sitting there if they were in fact free. She nodded yes and I took a look and of the three pups that were left one immediately caught my attention. I knew from that moment on there was no way I was going to give her away. As I was driving down the highway there was little or no room in my car for her to sit as I had everything I owned in my car. Not really knowing where I was going or even doing she sat on top of a pile of clothes in the front seat. I stopped every couple of hours and took a break from driving and let her do her duty. I never once had to put a leash on her as she stayed by my side the whole time and never even tried to go farther than the sound of a snapping finger could travel. I ended up arriving in Wisconsin where I had a pen-pal while I was in the service. I just showed up at around 2 in the morning and she offered me and my knew friend a couch to sleep on. Love for this woman grew and I eventually married her. We have two children Richard and Rachel and we have been married 13 years. Denise, my wife, quickly fell in love with Patches. Our children grew up with Patches in their life. She lived to be 13 yrs old and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Late in her life she started developing health issues as any dog her age would. She was having a hard time getting around but still doing good. Then we noticed that she wasn’t eating and losing a lot of weight. We took her to the vet and he ran a slew of test and blood work and told us that her kidneys were failing. I asked the vet how much time we had left with her and he said that it could be as little as a couple of weeks or as long as a year before her health would decline enough to make a difficult decision. I even asked the vet when will we know that her kidneys had failed completley and it was time to say good-bye. He was very compassionate and said that you will know, and Patches will be the one to really let you know. He gave her some medicine and she started eating again and I thought that maybe she could beat this and live a few more years. But as time went on she started to eat less and less. She was now having a very tough time getting around and even sometimes had to be carried outside to do her business. On Nov 7 of 2006 I had gotten up in the morning to go to work and let her out. Usually she would pick her head up and greet me but this morning she didn’t. She just laid there and I thought that maybe God had spared me the the decision and let her pass in her sleep. But she did open her eyes and look at me and then I knew. I tried standing her up thinking that maybe she just needed to get moving and then everything would be fine for another day. As I let go of her she just collapsed and laid there breathing very hard and labored. I knew it was time then. I woke my wife up and told her that it was time to put Patches down, and that I would leave work to do this and take her to the vet. ( I start work at 6 am and our vet doesn’t open until 8 am) I left work at 7 and came home. My wife had suggested that we take the kids with so they too can say there good-byes. I picked Patches up in her favorite blanket and put her in my lap and drove to the vets office with tears in my eyes the whole way. We had called the vet and told then that we were coming in to put Patches down, the receptionist told us that the doctor was out on an emegency call and would be in shortly. When we arrived we were able to put Patches in a room and make her as comfortable as possible. The people at the office apologized repeatedly for the doctor not being there and assured us that as soon as he did arrive that we would be the first ones he saw that day. My wife and I were trying to console our kids because they were upset even though they knew and said they understood what we were doing and why. The office personnel were very compassionate and told us that we must love her very much because we all were crying and trying to come to terms with this heart wrenching decision. They made sure that the kids were occupied by taking time out to color and talk with them and even us. They were all very supportive and genuinely felt sorrow for us. The doctor finally showed up around 9 am, and true to their word we were the first one to be seen. He checked her breathing and what not and said that her kidneys have all but failed. My daughter did not want to go and say good-bye because she said that it was to sad to do so. I told her that the doctor would give Patches something to make her sleep and that she wouldn’t wake up but that it was okay because we did not want her to suffer anymore. As my family and I were saying our last good-byes the receptionist came in with three soft clay momento tins so that we could have an impression made of her paws before she passed. I told her that that was very thoghtful and caring of her and even as she was pressing Patches’ paws into the clay her eyes were tearing up and it broke my heart to see her do this because I knew then that this was the end. The doctor then gave her the injection and assured us that this was completely painless. Less than a minute later Patches had finally stopped breathing. I patted her on her head and even though I was trying to put on a brave face by not crying I couldn’t help it. The vet asked us what we wanted to do with her remains and told him that I would like to have her cremated and have her ashes in a box. The kids spoke up and said that they wanted bury her on their grandfather’s property and I hastily aggreed. I lovingly put Patches into the back of the van and I closed the hatch. Just as I was getting in there was another gentleman bringing his very old golden retriever in to be put down also. I told him I was sorry for his loss and he thanked me and I told him I just had to put ours down. He said that he was sorry and even his eyes were teary. Although I knew it was over the loss of his pet, I can’t help but wonder if he shed a tear for ours. I drove out to my father-in-laws house and told him what we going to to do and he went out and helped us pick out a spot. He brought out his pick and shovel and then left us to grieve in our way saying he was sorry.
A few days later a card arrived in the mail from the vets office. It was a sympathy card from them. It said the normal things a sypathy card says but there was a hand written note in there that read as follows, “Travis and Family, We are so sorry that Patches had become ill. She was obviously very adored and cherished. The children knew her from infancy and that makes her extra special to them. Patches had the best most loving family possible. She always felt loved and cared for and you will deeply miss her.”
After everything was said and done I told myself that I would never get another dog because it is so hard to say good-bye. Almost a year later I had a birthday party and proceeded to have a bunch more drinks than I had ever intended and all my emotions came out and I was crying like a little boy. It was then in a drunken stupor that I realized that I had probably rescued Patches from a dire future, and would not mind if we got another dog. But as I was saying that it felt as if a great weight had been lifted and I was feeling stone cold sober. The naxt day we went to an area shelter and fell in love with Buster, a beagle mix. He is a great ball of energy approximately 3 yrs old at the time. The people at the shelter said that he was a new arrival and had been found wandering the streets by another town animal cop. Buster had spent approximately 3 months there before he was transfered to here. All efforts had been taken to locate the original owners before he was moved. They said that he wasn’t even cleared of any health problems yet or even checked his temprament. I told them that it didn’t matter because I was going to take him him regardless. He is now 5yrs old and I wouldn’t give him up for all the love in the world.
The way I ended up with your book is that a coworker brought it in for me to read knowing that I had recently lost my dog. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that this isn’t something that I would normally read but took it anyway took avoide any hurt feelings. It sat on my desk for about a week before I even read the jacket. I put it down and didn’t think much about it. A couple of days later I began to get curious and started to read. I chuckled a couple of times and even had a hard time reading because of tears. I brought the book home and finished it in a couple hours. And as I finished the book with a lot of tears and heart felt emotion I had for my Patches I decided to write and let you know that you are not alone in your sorrow. I did not have the guilt that you did because even I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do. Once again I am deeply sadened by your loss and you have my sincerest heart felt condolences.
Travis from WI