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 My wife and I recently lost our nine and a half year old mixed breed, Lucy. She was Lab and Whippet and my goodness she was a pretty thing. Fast, too; just ran like lightning, usually with a huge @#! eating grin plastered to her face the whole time. We had her from when she was six weeks old.


   A few years ago she started to become ill. It was noticeable at first as a refusal to eat certain foods, and obvious abdominal discomfort. We began a program of diet changes in an effort to find something she would tolerate.


   We tried everything. We eventually found a diet she tolerated better than the rest, but it wasn't a perfect solution. After lengthy online research (I read every online veterinary journal I could find and plugged in every visible sign of her problem into google} and much consultation with a vet we determined that Lucy had an immune disorder that attacked her digestive system. Diet changes would only work to a point.


   So for the last three years of her life, Lucy was on Prednisone. It worked too. At first. But her problems began to reoccur. So we upped her dosage. We upped them again and I began to realize that the disease I thought we had under control might kill her. This was a realization that I struggled to accept. 


   I thought we could keep her going for a few more years. I was wrong. After a particularly savage flare up of symptoms I made the decision to euthanize. There was a chance we might get her past it and eke out some more time, but she was so, so sick. We took her to the vet and they suggested a different treatment strategy. We took her home, but we were up with her all that night and her misery was heart rending. The whole time I was by her side stroking her and trying to comfort her to no real avail. Then she looked at me...not just a glance, but a LOOK, she stared deeply into my eyes, I swear to you a spark of real communication leapt from her to me and I knew she was asking for my help. There was nothing on earth that I could do and just when I thought my despair couldn't get any worsepost-402931-0-10213400-1430099423_thumb., it became blacker and deeper than ever.


   I looked at my wife and said, "we can't let her go through any more." She just nodded and began to weep.


   My mind, the traitor, began to whisper. What if she could pull through...what if this is YOUR fault for improperly dosing her prednisone...you can't take away all of her tomorrows...she TRUSTS you to help her and now you are going to KILL her....It's your JOB to protect her and look what you've done, what you are about to do...


   I touched her, stroked her fur, felt the warmth of her living body and wished I could freeze her in a moment of life and keep her thus.


   I knew it would be hard, but nothing prepared me for how hard. The decision was made but I could only barely comprehend what I was doing, as if a part of me was making a choice and the rest of me was watching in horror.


   From there it just got worse. Much worse. I don't remember the drive to the vet. I DO remember pulling over and helping her when she was vomiting, but little else. I carried her in to the clinic, her 45 pound body felt strangely light. 


   The vet was gentle and she felt little discomfort during the procedure, I'm sure. I carried her body back to the car. I held the evidence of what I had done in my arms, but I couldn't quite believe she was gone. Now and only now would I begin to understand how big a role she played in my life.


   I had, over the years become her caregiver. Every day was tailored to make sure Lucy kept her feeding schedule, her medications on time, her eliminations were monitored. Every moment I was home I would look to Lucy to gauge her mood and condition. I made sure she was comfortable; if I needed to re position her on the couch, or give her head a cushion, I did. I didn't start out being one of those folks that anthropomorphize their dogs and treat them like babies...I just came to do what I thought necessary for her care and comfort and that role grew over the years.


   Now, at home without her I have come to understand that she was the child I never had and, next to my wife, my very best friend. Her absence is intolerable. I cannot spend time at home because that is where I notice her absence most keenly.


   I struggle with thoughts of my failures: I didn't walk her enough or play with her enough, and there was that Christmas that she didn't get as many presents as usual and she was visibly disappointed. I would do anything to have her back, to make up for my failures, to just HAVE HER BACK. And that will never happen. The pain of that will never go away.


   I buried her in the garden. I thought it would give us some peace and a place to remember her. But I don't need a place to remember her: I see her every time I walk and absently put my hand down and wiggle my fingers expecting to feel her nose in answer, or when I look at her spot on the couch, or...


   And now the garden is a place I don't go.


   I always knew that my emotional investment in Lucy was going to cost me some day, but until I lost her I never knew such heart crushing grief could exist. It's not just the loss of a future together and all the walks and play times and seeing joy on her face, but also the regret and guilt for past failures as her guardian.


  Not everyone bonds with animals and certainly not as deeply as I did. She was our first dog. we were still quite young and my wife and I grew as adults and as a couple with Lucy. We had her for a decade, but I have trouble remembering a time without her. That will never happen again even if we get another.


  I felt her trust in me. I didn't always feel worthy of it, but she always seemed to forgive me. I just can't forgive myself. Now instead of a loving companion there is a grave. It took me a long time to fill that grave; my body felt leaden and slow. I was in no hurry. I entertained the notion that the vet may have made a mistake and that I might actually be burying her alive. Nonsense, of course, but there was no part of my heart Lucy hadn't laid claim to and I was putting her in a deep hole and covering her up.


   The pain doesn't go away. I will never stop missing her so much it hurts, or wishing I could make right all the wrongs, real or imagined, that I did her in our life together. Nor will I be able to ever sit in my accustomed spot and stop expecting her to settle in beside me.


   Was having her worth the pain...Yes. But I don't think I can do it again.

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I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Lucy. Your words are so eloquent, and they share a picture of the immense love and pain you feel. My first precious cat was Emmy. I had her for 15 years. I got her as a kitten of just a few weeks; in fact, she was too young to be away from her mom, but she was an orphan. I hate to say it, but Emmy wasn't a nice cat; she wouldn't let anyone but me and my husband get near her. She was like a gentle lamb around us, but boy was she completely different around others. She slept right by my side for 15 years, but then she got terribly sick. When she died, I didn't think I'd ever get another pet. It was a long time, too, before I did. But, I did. I let two more orphaned kittens into my life. I loved them both, but unfortunately, Bob left us after 11 years. We still have Mia, his sister. 


We will be here for you. Thank you for sharing,



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