This is the hardest blog post I’ve ever written. I can’t bear to edit the grammar or the flow but hopefully it still makes sense.
From the day I found her, emaciated on a street, Charlie worked so hard to do what I asked of her. And on Christmas day she was still trying to fulfill the last request I made of her when she was diagnosed with cancer in October. We said “We’ll be happy if she makes it through Christmas.”
Maybe we should have asked that she make it past Christmas.
On Christmas day Ryan and I had a wonderful morning and afternoon at my parents’ house, with my brother, his wife, and their two amazing little kids joining us for a big family Christmas.
After they left, however, the harsh reality set in. Charlie’s cancer was winning the battle. She hadn’t eaten in at least 4 days, and her abdomen was swollen with fluid. Her back legs were so weak they slid out from under her when she tried to walk. We were carrying her outside so she could pee.
Charlie on a better Christmas, about 7 years ago.
What had happened? Until 5 days before Christmas, things were going so well. Charlie was eating and energetic and back, almost, to her pre-cancer self. But then the Saturday before Christmas we took her to the emergency center because fluid was quickly building up in her abdomen again.
Monday before Christmas, two days after her ER visit, Charlie’s oncologist switched her to a more gentle chemo. We considered stopping altogether, but didn’t want to mistakenly give up too soon, you know? She had been doing so well.
So on Christmas day, once the festivities were over, I just looked at her and knew what we had to do. I couldn’t bear to see her looking unhappy and unable to really walk. Ryan agreed.
We drove home to Virginia, and I put Charlie’s bed in the living room. She collapsed onto it. Ryan and I sat with her, talking about The Decision, and that’s when we both lost it. What had seemed reasonable on the drive home was suddenly the most terrifying thing.
Our last hour.
Have you ever had to make the decision to take your pet out of the house and drive them to the hospital where you know they will be put to sleep, never to return home again? Are you kidding me?!
I have never, ever before wanted to freeze time so badly as I did at that moment.
It must have taken us at least an hour to actually get up the courage to leave for the hospital. Finally Ryan scooped Charlie and her bed up in his arms and carried her out to the car.
I can’t write in detail about the ER visit and all that ensued.
When the time came, I couldn’t even watch. I just held Charlie’s head in my hands, and pressed my forehead against hers, with my eyes squeezed shut. At this point I was crying and telling her over and over what a good girl she was.
As soon as the doctor said “She’s gone” and quietly left the room, I lost it even more. I literally wanted to scoop her still-warm body into my arms and just run out of the hospital and never stop running and never stop telling her what a good girl she was.
Because seriously – She was such a good dog. I know most people would say that about their dogs, but Charlie really was special. To have gone through so much in her early years, and to turn around her aggression quickly when I trained her, and to be such a loyal pup that even in the last few days when her legs were weaker, she would find the energy to still follow me from room to room . . .
I will never, ever have another dog like Charlie. And I’m still reeling from the fact that suddenly our last 11 years are over, just like that.