Saying Goodbye and Letting Go

I’m not usually a person who shares a lot about some things and typically this would be one of those times. However, for whatever reason, I was driven to share this. So here we go.

~Prize~26 Nov 17

I lost my 4.5-month-old puppy, Prize on Sunday 26 Nov 17. One of my worst days ever. She barely had a chance in life.

We took her in as she wasn’t breathing right and I was concerned she had some blockage in her throat. Immediately, upon our arrival they took her into the back to assess the situation. We waited for over an hour for any news, all the while, my fear grew exponentially. And the doubt of my being a good dog owner followed suit.

We were waiting in the room when the vet walked in and sat on the stool, facing us. She met our gazes and my heart sank, deep in my bones I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.

The first word I remember hearing was “sinister” that truly sank in. I’ve worked in a few vet clinics over my time and I’ve never heard a vet use that word to a patient. Full disclosure, I’ve never worked at an ER vet clinic, perhaps there it is more common. But for me, it was anything but.

She had fluid around her lungs and internal bleeding. No signs of trauma and no toxicity in her blood. Even after running all their tests the vet gave her a less than 10% chance of survival.

So, there, in the ER, I made that most difficult decision. I allowed her to move on from this world of discomfort and pain to one that would be pain free. It’s no less than she deserved. As much as I wanted to be selfish—and Lord help me I wanted to—I refused to make her suffer because of my wants. This was about what would be best for Prize.

My husband was with me, thankfully, even though he’d just gotten off work from his overnight shift.

Because it would cause her cause her small body more stress and discomfort for them to move her to what they called a “comfort room” to say goodbye, we went to her in the oxygen cage she had been put in to ease her breathing. This was in the back where all the techs and vets were working.

I didn’t care.

I would have at in hell to be there for her. In a way I did. My own hell filled with internal thoughts of how I’d failed her as an owner. How I failed the breeder as well as the pups mom, my girl, Lily, who I failed to keep her offspring safe from harm. Logically I know I did right by her but until my heart catches up there’s nothing else I can do aside from relive the memories.

Yet I remained in my own hell. My hell of sitting there on that floor or in the waiting room chair, unable to do anything to save her.

I held her for the last moments and despite her pain and discomfort when she saw me outside the oxygen cage, she leaned toward me and wagged her tail ever so slightly, showing me she was aware. She knew I was there for her, that I hadn’t abandoned her to the strangers who took her from my arms when we first arrived. Those soft dark eyes held me. I didn’t want to move away but hubs wanted to say goodbye as well.

While feeling overly protective—which for me is a lot on a normal day toward my animals—I allowed him to say his farewell.

He loved her as well. She slept in his lap as he caught a few more hours before he went in to work for his overnight shift. She would always run to the bedroom to greet him when his alarm went off, tail wagging. Even had she been sound asleep, the moment that chime went out, she bounded off the bed, or from whatever crate she may have been chewing on a toy in and ran to meet him. She would trail him in the house, her little ears bouncing as she trotted to keep up to him. Prize doted on him.

With reluctance, he backed away. He didn’t leave my side though. I crawled into the oxygen cage, as much as I could, leaving her front leg available for the vet to administer the first of her final three meds.

So hard namely because she was so young. I don’t have the years of memories to fall back on to keep me company and I never will. Only the few we made during her short time here. Honestly those aren’t enough. I didn’t take enough pictures, didn’t hug and cuddle her enough.

It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair.

On Tues, I called the clinic again to ask if I could have the case file notes emailed or picked up when I got her ashes back. Another call that dissolved me to tears, all over again. the receptionist remembered us when we had come in and offered up her apologies and all I could do was cry harder, despite being at the day job.

I regret not having images of her as she ran across the yard, puppy ears flopping as she tried so hard to keep up with the big dogs, or coming to me for some attention.

I regret not getting pics of her curled up with her head on my leg when she shared the couch with me as I wrote at 0330 before heading off to the day job.

I regret so much even as I know I was blessed beyond words to have her in my life. Prize was something special, there is no doubt in my mind about that.

Even her great aunt Nina played more once she arrived. So thank you for giving her some of your youth and exuberance.

Her puppy curls had just begun to come in when I lost her and I regret I won’t be able to see those as you grow.

My girls are adjusting, the hardest hit by this is Jean. She and Prize spent most of the day together. All really as they could see each other if they were crated while we were out of the house.

Jean’s been a lapdog for about two hours a night which she hadn’t been previously.

The hardest part for me is to come to terms with my failure. This is my pack. I’m the Alpha and therefore responsible for food, order, and safety. I failed to keep one of my pack safe, I failed to keep her safe. Something got to her and took her from us. Again, logically, I know I couldn’t have prevented this but my heart isn’t accepting that in the slightest.

I cry myself to sleep at night and have cried at work. My work has dogs in the workplace, which, I love but has been difficult this week. And those of you who have them and know dogs, they understand when you’re not happy or not feeling well. So their dogs spent a lot of time around me. Again, a double-edged sword.

Also having to pick up her ashes will be another rough day.

I am trying to be positive but again am failing that. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve or how long to grieve. We aren’t robots, we aren’t all the same and grief affects us all on different levels, our reactions are as unique as we are.

So there isn’t a wrong way to do this. Allow yourself the time, the tears, and the puffy eyes. I have purchased an item for my vet and her staff because I can’t thank them enough for making her last hours here comfortable.

There is one thing that provides me comfort and that’s the knowledge that she is well protected at the Rainbow Bridge. Valan is there. Glacier and Kayla are there. Opus and Dageus—don’t let them fool you, they really do like dogs; puppies as well. And of course our German Shepherds, Isis and Clarke.

Prize; If for any reason you get scared, Clarke will protect you, you can walk under him and he will keep you safe. He will do what I couldn’t do until the time comes that we are once again united.

I will miss her more than words could ever say.

Again, while I don’t usually talk about this but deal with it on my own, I was also blessed enough to have my family who allowed me to cry on their shoulders as well as two wonderful friends. So to my parents, to Taige and to Nan, thanks to all y’all for listening to me blubber as I try to work through this loss, yet something else I won’t ever be able to say how grateful I am for your selflessness in what you offered me.











4 Responses to “Saying Goodbye and Letting Go”

  1. Nan O'Berry says:

    You are never selfish. You are all heart. I never had the privilege of meeting Prize. I wish I had. She has given you so much. I think the name truly fit. She has taught you to love unconditionally and do your best to guide and comfort. I can think of no better tribute than for you to keep being you.
    God bless you.


  2. Areana says:

    Bless you Aliyah,
    No you are a beautiful person who was touch with a beautiful animals’ companionship and love . I believe that all creatures great and small or put here for our love and companionship and when the time for their transition has come, and their sweet little spirit moves on, it is an experience that is most difficult to get over, because we have built a relationship–a friendship, a parentage if you will. And it is something that is heartfelt can often be agonizing. Though your baby was with you only a short time she took up a space that was uniquely hers in your heart, you have every right to mourn her loss and do not feel bad for the emotions that you feel–it is not something that is minuscule–the emotion is real and it’s deep. So take some time to heal we are all here for you.

  3. Jayha says:

    I am holding you in the light. Pets become parts of our families in ways we don’t always expect. They want to be loved and included, and the kind of love they give in return is a beautiful thing. I am glad that you had the time with her that you did, and I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. Sonya Napier says:

    Yes, you are not selfish, but a kind and loving soul. I feel your pain. 2016 was that kind of year for me. We buried our grandmother a few days after New Years, a few weeks later I lost my oldest nephew in a car wreck (he was 21), after returning from his funeral my quiet in the storm-Sarah (a yellow lab) became ill and within a few days we discovered she had a large mass on her throat that was closing off her esophagus. I had to make the decision to let her go. I had enjoyed over 10 years with her. I too felt guilty that how could this have not been found sooner. She was also my sickly mothers companion. I buried her ashes with my mom that October. They crossed the rainbow bridge together. Thank you for sharing.