You may or may not know that I had a pug. He was my life. As my fiance said, “Whenever I think of you, he is there. He is a part of you. Without him, it is as if a piece of you is missing and can’t be found.” This past May I had to say goodbye. I had to say goodbye to my first puppy, my best friend, the love of my life for the past 15 years. My pug suffered from end stage kidney disease, arthritis, & blindness/deafness. We were able to control the arthritis. We were able to adjust for his blindness, his deafness. We could not stop his kidneys from failing. We chose to let him sleep forever to save him from the pain he was about to endure. One of the hardest things is to make that decision. When is it time to say goodbye? What if we are doing it too soon, too late?
I debated writing about this for a while because every time I think about him, tears well up and my chest tightens. I still have nights where I cry because he’s no longer there for pug snuggles. I cry when I make popcorn or cut carrots. I cry when I see anything pug or frankly, anything dog related. I cried when we covered the renal system in class. I even cried while trying to type this out, several times. However, as each day passes, I still miss him more than ever, but realizing the decision my family had to make benefited our beloved gets easier.
It happened so fast. Several months prior he was still playing, still begging for popcorn, still licking my face.Then we noticed his ribs, how skinny he had become, something we never realized until we looked, until we picked him up and realized how light he was getting. His arthritis was bad, we knew that. He was on medication. We increased the dosage. He still couldn’t walk past the front yard. He had an abscess in his tooth that caused his face to swell. He was too old for surgery, they said. He was in so much pain, we saw, we felt his pain. Then suddenly he wasn’t able to control his bladder. At first we thought he might have forgotten where his litter box is since he’s blind now. We showed him his box, we cleaned up his accident, and we gave him lots of kisses. Everything started to build up and we saw his quality of life fade away. Once a pug full of energy, personality, life was now struggling to stand, struggling to live, but still everything we loved. We knew what we had to do if we truly loved him. If he was out in the wild, if this was real life, he wouldn’t have made it years ago. We were prolonging the inevitable and now we saw the pain in his face, in his spirit. We talked to vet. We came to a decision after a week of conversations, tears, and fact checks.
The day of was the most beautiful, the most heartbreaking. The sun was shining. There was no rain, as predicted. That morning he had the worse accident he ever had. He knew it too. We picked him up and we kissed him all over. We fed him breakfast, which he happily ate. We gave him a bit extra. Then he peed. He peed in his litter box. Something he hadn’t done in months. We all burst into tears. Was he getting better? Did he know? He has to be getting better. But we knew he wasn’t. His kidneys were basically gone. He knew that. So he let us hold him like when he was a puppy. We held him so tight, for so long. He fell asleep in our arms, letting us hold him for one last time, kiss his soy sauce smelling little head one last time. My parents took him to the vet so he could sleep forever. I chose to stay back, to let my parents who loved him so much be the ones to let him go. They are my rock. I walked around the forest and collected flowers. It was only a few minutes they were gone. Then they came back. And we said goodbye, under his favorite rock and the shade of a tree, forever protected by a stone my father engraved.
He never woke during the process. My mom held him the entire time. He was wrapped up in his frog blanket and the love for him surrounded him. He knew. He was okay. He was finally at peace and no longer in pain. No longer unable to walk without limping, unable to control himself, no longer unable to see or hear. He was free. Forever free. The one thing I learned was that they do not live for us. We live for them. Could we have waited another month, another year? Sure. But did we want him in more pain that he could handle? Unable to walk, unable to get up? Did we want to give him more and more pills? Did we want him to keep running into walls and stepping in his own pee? Never. Animals who love us will live for us. They won’t let go until we let go. It is hard to believe until you personally experience it but when we finally let go, we saw how he let go.
Sleep in forever peace my little pug. All the words and motions of this world will never truly express how much you were loved, still are loved, and will forever be loved.