Dogs and Dog Training is not only my chosen career, but also something that I enjoy and keeps me challenged and learning every day!
So while this site will talk about my latest training adventures, my 4-legged clients and their antics, it will also talk about Life and how a lot of the lessons I've learned translate into the real (aka non-dog) world.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009
Sadie - Rainbow Bridge
I'll admit it - I'm on my third glass of wine...in all fairness, they are the tiny glasses, but you get my point.
Today didn't end as I had expected. It started off with a wonderful hike in the lower mountains and that's what I thought today's blog would be about. Unfortunately, life has a way of taking unexpected turns.
Sadie, our 14.5 year old Chocolate Lab had a stroke/a seizure/an episode...something from which her body couldn't recover. My husband made the brave choice to give her peace and I am so incredibly impressed by his bravery, selflessness and the caring with which he handled the situation.
We were lucky. We were able to call the family together (Dan's Parents and both of us), we had a friend drive us over to the vet's so we could focus on the moment and a vet friend meet us so the experience would be more personal. We were together to say good-bye and we were together when we buried one of our own. It was the way Sadie would have liked it.
With that said, I'm not afraid to tell you how I felt throughout the evening. First, I hated knowing we were at that point where a decision on Sadie's life needed to be made. We all knew this moment would come, she was 14.5. But secretly, we had all hoped she would pass in her sleep, dreaming of tennis balls, birds and bumpers.
Looking my husband in the eye and gently prodding him to think of the thing we had all hoped wouldn't come up was so tough. Knowing that he was praying the moment hadn't arrived while tightly holding onto his dog with all of the care and love possible...this is what marriage is all about - the good and the really not so fun moments together. Balancing the truth and backing off to give him time to make his own decisions. Then coming back in again to support the direction he chooses.
I know this moment isn't/wasn't about me, but I couldn't help but remember the last time I was faced with this situation and Dan and I were there together. It was when I had to make a choice about putting Coal down at the young age of 4.5. It was horrible and I felt as if Coal had been ripped out of my arms - that's how it is when a soul hasn't had a chance to go through the natural process of a full life.
With Sadie, she did have a chance to go through life and progress naturally. That's the big difference this time around. Knowing she lived a long and wonderful life and that we all had a chance to come to terms with a natural ending before it came. Sadie kindly gave us the time to say good-bye and eased herself gracefully into the next stage.
But back to me...you see, the last time I was here, my husband was such an incredible support for me. Losing Coal was horrible and I was not prepared to handle it. Dan was there every step of the way. He let me cry, he held me, he supported me. Oh heck, I was a wreck and he still loved me. So tonight, I wanted to live up to that wonderful & supportive example.
I wasn't perfect...I guess I pictured myself as a strong individual carrying us both through the moment. The truth is that I couldn't speak after I asked my Mom-In-Law to meet us at the vets. I broke down while asking our vet friend to meet us to handle the final moments. I felt utterly helpless & useless while standing by & watching my husband come to a conclusion that I knew in my gut was the truth. And I blubbered to my husband's non-doggy-type boss about how he wouldn't be in to work because we had to put a dog to sleep...
But regardless of my personal emotion, I did my very best and all that matters is that I held my husband with love, gave his head a soft shoulder to land on, cried together, carefully wiped his tears, thought to bring a soft blanket to wrap his beloved dog in and suggested the prettiest place on our property for her final resting place.
Sadie helped to teach me selflessness. She loved Dan above herself. She looked at him with loving eyes and she always had a shoulder to lean on when times weren't perfect. That's a tough act to follow, but Sadie made it look easy and effortless. I can't help but feel that Sadie was guiding us this evening - I know she had an impact on me....
From my heart, I want to say "Sadie, we love you so very much".