Awoken by her rustling, I struggle to unwrap the sheets and duvet and too many dogs that are weighing me down. Rising from my dreams is easier than trying to get my creaky body upright and the door open in time to let her out. Some nights I cannot untangle myself quickly enough and Luna poops on the floor. Some nights she poops in her sleep and I awaken only when the stink hits my nostrils. As strange as it sounds, it is better than the bed-wetting.
When my Sweet Ophelia hit the age Luna is now, she started having stomach issues. It was probably a tumor but nothing was confirmed, she was more than 14 years old and I could think of no good reason for batteries of expensive and invasive tests. Every week or so I would change her diet or her medication and she would feel good for a few days, then the post-meal vomiting would return. It got to the point that she would take me downstairs and out the front door because she was too polite to vomit inside.
Rarely did I leave home without Ophelia, but I had a trade show that I could not miss. I was only going to be gone for two nights. I left Ophelia with my ex-boyfriend Chris. Ophelia was a rescue who had been thoroughly abused and was deathly afraid of most men. Chris was the one man that she loved most in the world, and he her. The evening before I flew out, we walked around the neighborhood, we played with the tennis ball, she was spunky and sassy like I had not seen her in a while. Boarding the plane the following day I had no concerns about her health. I would fly home, she would greet me at the door with her usual smile and butt wiggle (she had no tail you see), and we would return home.
The following day on the trade show floor I received a call from Chris. “I’m worried about Ophelia.”
It was normal, I reassured him. On the rare occasions I did go away, Ophelia did not eat much, she would be sad and mopey. Chris, for his part, is a bit of a worrier, so I didn’t think too much of his concerns. It all sounded normal to me. He called me hourly for the rest of the day, each call a bit more frantic than the one before. Finally, I told him, “if you are so worried, why don’t you take her to the vet?”
He did just that. The vet gave him a nasty look and suggested that he had abused the dog. She had lost a lot of weight and the vet mistook the age for four years, not 14. The vet said there was nothing she could do, it was time to say goodbye.
I called the vet myself to ask if she could keep Ophelia comfortable until I returned the next day to say goodbye. The vet responded, “are you doing this for the dog or for yourself?”
The tears, then as now, were streaming down my cheeks.
I made Chris promise to stay with her. He told me that as the life left her eyes she looked like an angel.
Last night, like so many nights before, I struggled to untangle myself from my tangle of sheets and puppies to let Luna out. She went out and came back in moments later. In a strange break from routine, she went to her “second bed’, turned around in a circle, again and again and again. Then, she pooped on her “second bed”. While she went back to “first bed” and went back to sleep I dumped the bed and the poo outside and returned to my bed. It’s all in a night’s routine, but it was far from normal.
In my heart, while I’m not ready to say goodbye, I want to wake up one day and find that Luna isn’t going to wake up. My brain tells me that Luna is way too stubborn and one day the decision will have to be made, by me. But just how do you pull the plug on your best friend and constant companion, the one heart who has been constantly by your side, literally protecting you from harm while bringing joy and comfort? How do you say goodbye to the one training partner who was always ready to roll? How do you say goodbye to the one, loving constant in a tumultuous 13 years?
“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
Everytime we say goodbye, I wonder why a little,
Why the Gods above me, who must be in the know.
Think so little of me, they allow you to go.
When you’re near, there’s such an air of spring about it,
I can hear a lark somewhere, begin to sing about it,
There’s no love song finer, but how strange the change from major to minor,
Everytime we say goodbye.