Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I've known for a while that Cori's time on earth would be coming to an end before too terribly much longer, and I tried to be mentally prepared for that to happen. But I don't think there is any way that you can really be ready for the loss.

Two weeks ago, she was doing great for a 16 year old dog. You would never guess how old she really was. But then, about a week ago, she stopped eating much at all. She got very skinny and started moving much more slowly. Late Friday afternoon, I started wondering if I should have taken her to the vet earlier that day. Then she seemed to do a bit better...until this morning, that is.

This morning, she had a very hard time getting up, she had a very hard time walking, and while she was trying to stand to drink her water, her back legs could not support her and she fell. I brought her into the house and tried to give her water in a bowl. She could not support herself enough to drink it, but she was thirsty. I gave her water from my hand and she lapped it up over and over, then drank what I had accidentally spilled on the floor as she laid beside it. She did manage to stand up and walk around again for a little bit, but her legs were quickly giving out again. I called the vet and they told me to bring her in at 3.

I was hoping for the vet to be able to give me a miracle, but I was fully expecting that Cori would not be coming home. So I started preparing Samantha for that likelihood. She understands, at least as much as a 3 year old can...and we just had the same type of conversation a few days ago about Grammy. So when I told her that Cori is very old and very sick and she might die very soon, Samantha told me that she will go to heaven and be happy, but that we will be sad. I told her that is right.

I kept Cori in the house and she finally got over being nervous and laid on one of the towels I put down for her. Samantha had been wanting to pet her, but I had Samantha stay away since Cori was already nervous and the kids quick movements tend to make her a little nervous anyway. When she finally settled down, I let Samantha come over to pet her, though. Cori enjoyed the extra attention and laid her head down in Samantha's lap. Samantha sat still with Cori, just gently petting her, for quite a long time for a three year old.

Pat came over to watch the kids for me, because I knew that there was no way that I could take them with me to the vet's office if Cori wasn't going to be coming home. And even if she were coming home, it would be very hard to manage getting her and the kids into the office when she is having so much trouble getting up and walking. Pat also said that they can help me bury her if need be. I am so grateful for good neighbors and friends!

At the vet's office, the vet said that we could do some testing and see if Cori was well enough to try some anti-inflammatory medicine and that might help her (he said that if she is strong enough to take them, it was a 50-50 chance of them helping her), and we might have another 3-6 months with her then. But he also said that with her eating problems and the huge amount of weight that she had lost, that it was very likely that there was something else going on. He talked about people wanting to do everything possible to help their pets, but that you also have to weigh the possibility that you would just be making things worse by prolonging the misery.

When I made the decision to let Cori go, he told me that he thought that I was doing the right thing, that he would make the same decision at this point if she were his dog. It was so hard. It was so hard to say goodbye, it was so hard to be alone there in the office. I sobbed as I told him my decision. I had silent tears rolling down my face while I held her and loved on her as they prepared the shot. I cried as I held her and petted her while he gave her the shot. And I sobbed very loudly when the vet told me her heart had stopped. Later, I felt like I should be apologizing to all the people who had to listen to me, but then, I just didn't care. I did not want to lose Cori. It turns out I wasn't nearly as ready to say goodbye as I thought I was.

I got home just a few minutes before Brent did, so when he got home, we got the kids ready to go and then went on to Glenn and Pat's house. Pat suggested burying her near their front gate and I chose a shady spot between two trees. Glen dug a hole with the front loader and while he was doing that I had to answer Samantha's questions about what we were doing. I explained that even though Cori died, her body is still here and needs to be buried. Samantha said that Cori is in heaven and she is happy. I told her that is right. She said that we are sad, though. I told her that is right. And she asked again what we are doing. This time I told her that even though Cori is in heaven, it looks like she is still here because her body is here and we need to bury her body. She didn't say anything else. I fully expect the same questions again in the days to come. Because, really, how on earth can a three year old understand these things.

After that, I was doing better for a while. Until we came home and there was no Cori to greet us. Samantha asked what was wrong when I started crying again. Brent and I told her that I am sad because I miss Cori. Samantha said that she is sad and misses Cori, too. This really stinks. This is so hard. I miss Cori. Samantha misses Cori. And somehow, I have to be together enough to not worry my kids or magnify Samantha's feelings.

She was such a good dog. She was patient with the kids and loved them. She was never jealous, even though she was nearly 13 when Samantha was born. She was so happy here in the country. I am glad that we moved here before she died, and that she had nearly a year of enjoying living here. She loved to walk with us and gave the kids lots of kisses. For that matter, she tried to give everyone lots of kisses. Samantha always told people "Cori is a wicky (how she says licky) dog." She chased squirrels and sometimes barked at the birds, but left all the other animals alone. She always met us at the door when we went outside. I miss my Cori.