As we're having breakfast this morning with a TV-movie playing in the background, what happens in the movie suddenly reminds me of what day it is today. Two years ago today, my dear family member, playmate and comforter passed away. Passed away I say, really she was put down, a decision made by the whole family. What a difficult decision to make!
Before owning a pet of my own, I belonged to the group of people who could not understand people crying over their dead pets, after all it's just an animal. But once you own one yourself and watch it become a part of your family, seeing it as "just an animal" becomes a very distant thought.
With us, all bad things happened to F around Christmas and New Year. First there was the car accident, when she was hit after one of the snowballs we were throwing in the garden flew out on to the road and she followed it, at merely four months old. Then there was the hysterectomy a few years later. And two years ago, after being told by the vet that keeping her alive would be considered torture as her internal organs were failing due to old age, she didn't even make it to Christmas.
Making that decision, whilst half of the family was in Ghana was the most difficult. Out of our own selfishness, we wanted to keep her alive til we could go and see her one last time, but realised it would not be fair on her. In the end, Mr. T called us before going in to Bla Stjarnans Animal hospital and once again 30 minutes later when the 'procedure' was over to let us know how it went. Being in Ghana made it all the harder. Who's going to understand when you say "I'm feeling really low because my dog, my family member of thirteen years has just died". Instead we spent the days until Christmas at home, trying to reminisce amongst ourselves of the great times we'd had with her.
Having F in the family for thirteen years has affected my life in so many ways, despite the fact I lived in another country for 6 of those years. To this day I think leftovers will be saved for "the dog" then remind myself I don't have one. Anytime I'm sad or crying, I expect to see F come to me with big sad brown eyes wondering why I'm not happy and putting her head in my lap until I feel better. Or I remember, when we're all very happy (usually after a football game) and rejoicing, how she'd come and jump around in the middle, making sure she didn't miss out on any of the fun.
My beautiful half-labrador/half-golden retriever is gone for good and as far as I am concerned, I'll never have a pet again. It is such a wonderful experience but the sadness once it's gone is too much, and the need to supress that sadness makes the mourning so much worse.
For the joys of having a dog, read this lovely post by Denise.