We killed our Zoe on Friday.
Not sure how best to put it – put her down? Put her to sleep? But the blunt truth is that’s what we did. Yes, it was a mercy, she was truly suffering. It was the right time, and I have no regrets about that. She wasn’t able to keep anything down since Tuesday – everything she ate she threw up, and she was constantly having to go outside (like every 2 hours) and all she could manage was liquid stool. At the end she was continually leaking, which we wiped up.
Even so, she was good-natured to the end. She wagged her tail when we saw us most times, and would get up to greet the friends and family who came to visit those last few days. Laura in particular was so helpful, helping us through this final week with her presence and sharing her own experiences having had Callie and Tristan.
Friday morning we talked about what to do, and given the poor night she had (again), we decided another night would be too much. Once we had the plan, I was able to throw myself into the logistics and apply myself to that. Being able to do that is the way I cope with it. Canceled the piano lessons and arranged to have Laura be with the kids. I was dreading having to tell the girls after school by myself. I had them sit down at the table and tell them that I had some news, and that we were going to say goodbye to Zoe tonight. Annika immediately bawled, but the other two blinked and accepted it. And then asked if they could play Prodigy on the computer after snack. A few minutes later Annika was too, after saying that she still wanted to go to the birthday party that was scheduled that evening.
The actual process wasn’t anything like I had expected, despite people telling me about it. WE went in and spent some time with her after she was catherized. We cried and sobbed and shared our memories with her, thanked her for being such an amazing dog and family member. She was agitated, wanting to leave. But when the vet came in to actually do it, she settled right down on the floor, with her head on J’s lap and looking directly at me. We were petting her, and the vet put the sedative in. It took almost immediate effect, and her eyes became slightly cloudy. I whispered how much we loved her as the vet then put in the medication to stop her heart. I’m petting her and looking at her and she’s looking at me, and almost immediately the vet said she’s gone. It was shocking, because there was no change at all, and her eyes were still open and looking directly at me. I’ll never forget those eyes.
The comfort, if there is one, is that I was the last thing she saw and she wasn’t agitated. She was at peace, and out of pain, and it was my duty as her owner to make sure that she didn’t suffer. Despite the pain of having to do it.
Annika is having a hard time. She’s been crying for two weeks, although the night of she did go to a birthday party and managed to have fun. But she was emotional afterward, crying about how it wasn’t fair. Nora, who seemed not to really get it, was keening on Friday night when we left, unable to eat dinner through her tears and cries of “Zoe!”. Even this morning we caught her looking at a photo of zoe, spinning around a chair and singing the Beatles, “With Love From Me To You”. Broke my heart to hear, because she’s mourning too. We found a card that she wrote to Zoe on her desk, where she she wrote “Dear Zoe. I hope you come back as a dog named zoe. But its not posable (sic) 🙁 nora waa” )
Savita doesn’t outwardly cry, but she’s more affectionate and loving. Yesterday when J’s girlfriends was here and the table was full during lunch, I was in my office and came in to the kitchen to grab a plate. The girlfriends joked that I was feeling left out, which I said sarcastically, “Yes, I really feel left out.” When I left the room Savita chased me and with serious tears in her eyes she asked me painfully, “Daddy, do you really feel left out?” I hugged her and assured her that I really didn’t, and that was okay. She went back to finish her lunch, but I suspect she’s feeling things a little more deeply right now.
J is also having a hard time, which is understandable. She was our first fur baby. But yesterday we had her girlfriends over and she went out to the winery and her community helps her heal. I’m glad she has that.
While I try not to do so anymore, I’m still quite practiced at compartmentalizing. I saved my grief for the time of her passing, and I’ve mostly processed it. I had an “oof” moment Friday night when heading to bed, I habitually called out Zoe’s name to go outside, and I caught myself. The grief was heavy enough that I had to lean on the front door a moment to gather my strength. I suspect come Tuesday – my first day fully by myself – that I will have other moments like that. I still hear her nails on the hardwood walking around, ghost sounds that are playing tricks with my ears. I have my moments, but it will get better.
So this last month can go fuck itself.
Instead of doing the whole January reset thing, I’m starting in December. December will be different, focus on myself. Our recent experience with death has also highlighted the need to more carefully codify our estate planning. We have a DIY will, but we need something more substantial. Meeting with a friend who is an estate lawyer next month to get that done. I’m going back to the kickboxing place tomorrow come hell or high water, and the diet will be resetting. Setting aside to do some writing each day and start looking for markets to publish again – it’s been a year since I’ve submitted anything for publication. I’m aiming to submit two things by the end of the year – somewhere. And the two books I’ve had outlined will start getting some flesh on them. I’m also going to focus on cultivating some friendships, that garden has gone a bit wild but with some bare patches. Cultivation is necessary.
We will get another dog, sooner rather than later. She won’t be Zoe, but she’ll add her own thing to our family. Chapters close, chapters open. Every ending is the necessity for a new beginning. That’s what I tell myself, at least.