I have thaught a long time about this post. I need to talk about the subject, but it's huge, and I don't honestly know where to start.
A year ago, on the 5th April 2017, I lost my big dog. He had been with me over 10 years. He was a huge part of my story, but the time had come to say goodbye.
I got him when he was 3. At 55kg this rescue dog was far to big to get a vet's certificate because the vet couldn't promise he wouldn't keel over at any moment. He was charming, handsome and intelligent and despite the fact that my life changed beyond recognition not long after, he stuck with me through it all. It was thanks to my family that I was able to keep him as my situation changed, I wasn't prepared to let him go anywhere but where I was. He was special (every dog owner says that, right?) and I never met anyone who didn't like him, despite his size!
It didn't take long for him to drop to a more respectable weight (more like 37kg) and he adapted to whatever we asked of him. He got on well with children, loved family walks and would try and sit on your knee if you let him. He loved company and even did a bit of agility before he got too old.
By the end, he couldn't walk really. His back-end had completely stopped working, due in no small part probably to the damage done by his weight before he came to me. He was old, however, at 13, and we would have had to say goodbye to him one day.
In truth, I knew from the day I got him that I would one day have to make a very difficult decision. That one day I would have to say goodbye. I am beyond grateful for the support my family gave me over this period of time. The decision I made still sits with me, I still carry it around...was it too soon? Did l leave it too long? Part of me wishes I could ask him, but I know he was suffering, that he was unhappy. I also know that, if I did ask him, he would probably say he just wanted to be with me, (or my Mum) whatever happens.
It hurts me that he had to go. But I realise now it probably hurt my mum more because she knew how important he was to me. As I sit here feeding the baby with the spaniel sat beside me I know it will break my hart when she has to go, and even more so because both children will probably be old enough to understand by then.
Was it harder because I was 6 months pregnant at the time? maybe. But whenever it happened it was going to be tough. I'm sad he didn't get to meet The Boy, or The Boy didn't get to meet him, but this moment wasn't about him, and I'm confident big dog knew he was there, somehow.
In the end, big dog went peacefully, at home with my mum & I. The husband took The Girl out for the afternoon while it happened. That day was awful, but the hole he left in our lives is bigger.
The Girl loved the big dog, but she wasn't really old enough to understand what had happened. When she came home and he wasn't there she asked once but accepted our answer of 'not here anymore.' Next time we won't get off so lightly. I dread it. But, at the same time, would I swap it? Would I spare them (& me) that pain and not have a dog in our lives?
The answer is no, of course not. If you take that to its enavatable conclusion you would never have anyone in your life, human or furry, for fear you might lose them one day.
The sadness of losing them is worth the joy that our furry companions bring us every day. If I had the choice to remove that pain but never get to meet big dog, my choice would be to have him in my life, every time. Despite losing him, despite everything. I am learning to carry that loss as part of me.