Monday, July 9, 2012

How Do You Let Go?



I hope you’ll indulge me this one time for not writing about writing.  It’s been a rather tough week for me.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting a bit late.  You see, I’m a dog lover, and up until last Tuesday, I had two:  Jack, an Alaskan Malamute, and Maleah, a Siberian Husky.  Over thirteen years ago—a year after the death of my first dog, a Husky/Malamute mix named Gunnar—I adopted Maleah.  She came to me through BASH, Bay Area Siberian Husky, a rescue league specializing in the notoriously difficult breed. 

From day one, Maleah proved just how arduous the breed can be.  She cost me thousands of dollars in damage to my home.  But even worse, she was a runner, an escape artist of profound ability.  We even called her The Great Malini and hypothesized she had hidden opposable thumbs because she could escape from any kind of enclosure or binding.  Most of the time, she was with me, right by my side.  I was a stay-at-home mom with a home-based business, so I was around a lot, but when no one was home, my husband and I had to make sure she couldn’t get loose.  Not an easy task, let me tell ya. 


Maleah was one of those special souls who touched everyone she came in contact with.  She helped one of my son’s friends and her father get over their significant fear of dogs.  That’s how sweet she was.  Though the breed is notably cat-predatory, she had her own kitty, Kiley, another rescue.  When Kiley died of old age back in 2005, Maleah was a little mopy, so, after a lot of research, we got her Jack, and the two became fast friends, completely inseparable.  And up until a few weeks ago, they played hard together everyday, with Maleah as the proven alpha and Jack her ever obedient love-slave. 


But all that changed, and very quickly.  Maleah’s health, which had been changing due to her age, suddenly deteriorated.  Though she was always a picky eater, she stopped eating her food and had to be hand fed.  I cooked for her everyday, whatever I thought she might eat:  ground beef, carrots, hot dogs, cheese, steak—whatever.  But after awhile, even that proved difficult, and she stopped eating altogether.  It’s hard for a mom to watch her “kid” not eat and simply waste away.  I knew if I took her in to see the vet yet again, he would just tell me her time was near.  And I knew that.  I realized I would have to say goodbye very soon. 


Then Maleah stopped sleeping.  She constantly paced around the house, never lying down, never resting.  By last Monday, she could barely walk.  And on Tuesday, her rear legs became partially paralyzed.  This was it.  I knew the time had come.  As much as I loved and needed her, I couldn’t allow her to suffer one more day of pain.  That realization undid me. 

My son and I spent the entire day on the floor next to Maleah as she rested on her bed.  This was not easy for my son, especially physically.  He woke up that morning with his usual backache, but it was markedly worse, and he could barely tolerate sitting, standing, or even lying down.  But he did.  He never left her side that day.  Mid-afternoon, the vet came to our home and told us what we had been dreading, that she would never get better.  He advised us to put her down. 


So I laid down with my face right up next to Maleah’s, so she could look me in the eye, so I would be the last thing she ever saw, so she would know I was there and that I loved her.  The doc gave her a ketamine-valium sedative before stopping her heart.  I held her close and cried and apologized then watched the light fade from her beautiful soulful eyes.  It was one of the most difficult moments of my entire life.

Later that evening, when my son came to say goodnight, I started to cry yet again.  Though I am a very spiritual person, I asked him if he really thought Maleah was in a better place.  I wondered if she had a soul that God would allow to carry on in some place where she could play and run. 
My son, who is not especially spiritual, told me a remarkable story. 


He said that he had prayed the night before for God to take Maleah’s pain and give it all to him.  And as I said, he woke up in considerable pain that morning and could barely sit, stand, or lie down, which was not at all typical.  He said he thought God had indeed intervened and given him Maleah’s pain to bear on that last day.  He thought if there was a God, and He did something like that, then surely Maleah had a soul, and at that moment, she was off chasing squirrels in heaven.  His words helped me more than I can say, because suddenly, my son had a faith he’d never had before.

It’s been six days, and while I still have my big silly Jack, I miss Maleah terribly.  She was my constant companion.  If I moved to another room, so would she.  We were inseparable.  So it’s difficult for me.  Yes, she was “only” a dog, but she was part of my family and I ache for her.


Rest in peace, my beautiful girl!


46 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nancy, I'm so sorry! That's the hardest thing to do because we don't want to let them go.
We had to put down my dog when I was in college. Not long after, I had a dream about her. She ran across a bridge and joined my grandfather, who'd also recently died. That's when I knew that dogs really do go to Heaven.
Maleah is there now, chasing little angel squirrels.

D.G. Hudson said...

I can identify with your pain. I did the same thing about getting down to my cat's level on her last day before we took her to the vet's to be put down. He was an adoptee from the local shelter.

She had been diabetic for 4 years or more with shots every day. At 16 years, she began to get worse.

I wrote a post with my pet as the roving reporter, if you'd like to read it at this link:

http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2011/04/street-cat-tale.html

Parents, pets and friends - we have to appreciate them every day.

Tracy said...

Hi Nancy - I'm so sorry to learn of your loss! Four-footed family members make life more special. Losing one is heart-breaking.

Sending you a hug and hoping that positive thoughts of Maleah will keep her alive in your heart always.

D.G. Hudson said...

The cat was a male. Need more coffee, perhaps.

prerna pickett said...

sorry for your loss... it takes time but at least you have all the good memories.

Al Penwasser said...

I'm very sorry, Nancy. I'll hate to lose my doggie friend when it happens. He's 9 now, so there's a few more years. But, like all things, it'll happen. :-(

R. Jacob said...

I feel your pain. I had to end it for my Lab, Mugsy, after thirteen years. I still think of him and was tearing up reading this post. In most cases dogs are better then people. gone but never forgotten.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Nancy, I'm so sorry. Losing a beloved pet is emotionally devastating. *hug*

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm so sorry! That's so hard to see such a loved one and long time companion go. Like your son, I know she's in a better place.

Lisa Regan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Regan said...

What a beautiful, moving tribute to Maleah! This made me teary-eyed and gave me the chills. Such beautiful pictures too. There is no doubt in my mind that our dogs are members of our families and sometimes are able to provide comfort and companionship that even other humans cannot. I mourn for your loss as well. I am so very sorry. But I think your son is right and she is quite happy wherever she is now, waiting to be reunited with you when your work here is finished. I love you!

LD Masterson said...

Nancy, my heart hurts for you. We went through this last July with our beloved Brandi.

If you aren't familiar with the story of the Rainbow Bridge, go here and read it, http://rainbowsbridge.com/poem.htm.It might give you comfort.

Heather M. Gardner said...

You are such a wonderful mother. The pain we feel is because we care so much and there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing to be ashamed of. I have had that very moment with so many pets but it never gets easier. Holding them, apologizing to them, whispering our love in their ears. Your heart will heal some, the pain will fade some but those memories are yours forever. Thinking of you.
HMG

Jennifer Hillier said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss, and am sorry I never got to meet your girl. What a beautiful dog she was.

We had to put down our cat, who was only 7, last November after his kidneys failed. It's really hard to lose a member of the family, even if they're the furry kind.

Sending you all my best wishes. xo

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm so sorry. That's like losing one of your kids.

When we had to put Calvin & Hobbes to sleep, I did the same thing. I stared at their eyes so I would be the last thing they ever saw.

JeffO said...

It's a terrible decision to have to make, but you did the right thing. Sending good thoughts your way.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm so sorry. So very sorry. I have to come back and read this later because it's just too close to home right now. But I'm thinking of you, Nancy. So sorry for your loss.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm not usually a dog lover, but I've acquired one by default, and he's sneaked his way into my affections, and I dread him getting older.

The story of your son sent a shiver down my spine.

Lynn Proctor said...

what a beautiful way your son looked at her healing---i am so sorry for your dear loss

cleemckenzie said...

Would all dogs have you as their companions. What a thoughtful, kind person you are, Nancy. You gave your beautiful girl the best of all things in life and you saw her through the last phase with compassion and love. It goes without saying that your son has a great role model.

fairbetty said...

So sorry... hugs for you, even though I know it won't make it feel better.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

No, not "only" a dog. A dog. A wonderful, loving, faithful companion who loved you no matter what. As painful as it was, and still is, you did the right thing. I'm sorry for your pain.

Alleged Author said...

I am so so sorry. Dogs are better than anything I can thing of, and it's horrible to lose them. Giving you hugs from far away.

Donna K. Weaver said...

OH, Nancy, you made me cry. I've had a dog like that. I called her my Celestial dog. I think people are crazy to suggest that dogs don't have souls. And some of them are much better than human ones.

*hugs*

Brenda McKenna said...

I'm sorry.

Thank you, though, for writing this.

Thank you.

Carrie Butler said...

Oh, Nancy. That made me tear up. I am so sorry. We lost a Malamute/Shepherd member of our family a few years back and it was awful, but I know they're both in a better place now. Please let me know if you need anything! *Hugs*

Jericha Senyak said...

Oh, Nancy, I'm so sorry. The strangest thing, though - are you in the Bay Area? because I just returned, right, on Friday night, and last night I went to Hoot, an unusually good musical open mic at St Alban's Chruch in Albany. The theme of the evening was "Been There, Done That: songs about place" and a woman sang the loveliest, sweetest, saddest song - she told us that the "place" was her backyard and the song was about burying her dog there. It's making me tear up just remembering it. As soon as I read your story, I wanted to offer it to you, if you'd like to hear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9z5dq5BSGA Sending you much love.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful story of love and hope.

Freya Morris said...

Man, I just cried through that post. I don't usually cry when it comes to this sort of thing, but boy did that one hurt. I can only imagine how it must feel for you. I hope the pain eases soon. What a beautiful companion.

Michael Abayomi said...

Sorry to hear about your dog, Nancy. I can totally relate, because I lost mine to old age a few years back. It wasn't put to sleep though, and I doubt if I could ever show the strength needed to come to such a decision.

Glad to hear that your son is gaining a new spiritual perspective because of this. Everything happens for a reason. Maleah sounds like an awesome pet. May she rest in perfect peace.

Hope Roberson said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. I had to stop reading this because I'm now crying, hard. We put our Golden Retriever down the day before Mother's day. We had Keyser for 13 years, before kids, and I was not a dog person until him. We thankfully have another too who gets so much extra lovin' now :) I hope you're doing better and wish the happy memories to return soon! Take care :)

Liza said...

Oh dear. I am so sorry. It is the story of life that what we treasure so much can give us so much pain. But we are so much better for having had the treasure.

M Pax said...

My condolences, Nancy. I cried through your whole post. Hardly only a dog. They become our families.

Hugs to you and your family.

Lynda R Young said...

Oh Nancy, I want to give you a huge hug but I fear I'd soggy up your shoulder with my tears. It's never easy to let a loved one go.

klahanie said...

Dear Nancy,
Such a heartfelt tribute to your beloved dog, Maleah. There are no suitable words to convey my sadness that I so acutely sense.
And you shall look back, with much fondness and affection to your precious dog. Indeed, a cherished family member. Much loved and never forgotten.
In peace and gentle thoughts, your way, Gary

Kim said...

Pardon please if the words are not spelled correctly here...it's hard to see through these watery eyes.
My heart goes out to you at this time, it is so undeniably difficult to lose a companion such as Maleah.
You gave her the best, though - both in a life that was rich and full (and tolerant of her behavior!) and the most beautiful ending to it. Your love for her was apparent to her - and sent her onward from this world overflowing with it. What a tremendous gift.
May you find peace in your memories, joy in your time with Jack - and in time, a smile on your lips at the thought of your beautiful Maleah.
Peace.

Chuck said...

I don't get how some people are not affected when their pets die. I couldn't work effectively for a week when my dog died 4 years ago. The only good part was he went amazingly quick (less than 5 hours). My wife was devestated. So sorry for your loss Nancy. I believe she is in a better place...running with my dog!

Nicky Wells said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, honey. Your post brought tears to my eyes and I can't begin to imagine how you feel. But I do believe she's in a better place and still with you and loves you. Hold on to that thought and that she suffers no more. Sending you big hugs.

nutschell said...

Oh my. this post certainly made me teary. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard when we lose these beautiful creatures, especially if they've been part of our lives for so long. I'm sure Maleah is running around in dog heaven chasing squirrels!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

The Golden Eagle said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. How absolutely heartbreaking.

Beautiful tribute!

amy kennedy said...

Never, only a dog. I'm so sorry. You've given her memory to all of us.

Deana said...

Oh Nancy, you broke my heart with this post. I am literally in tears. I'm so sorry for your loss. Almost the exact thing happened to our dog three years ago and we had to put him down. It's still hard to think about.
It sounds like you had some wonderful years with your doggie though, and I hope you can always cherish those days. HUGS!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

So sorry for your loss... You have your precious memories though and they wil be worth their weight in gold.

merkur said...

This is really a nice site . I liked it . I also liked your writing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Nancy. They are never *just* a dog (or a cat). Never. They are our family and companions. We open our hearts to them and they give back so much. When we lose them there is a hole in the fabric of our life and our hearts.

Such beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing those.

Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

Chris Fries said...

Hi Nancy,

I know this is an old post, but I've been off the blogging net for most of July, so trying to catch up and just seeing this now.

I wanted to offer you my deepest sympathy and condolences -- as a fellow dog lover, I absolutely understand the pain and the loss you're feeling. I wish you peace and comfort, and a touch of joyful love because she will always live on within your heart.