It’s been one week since my miniature schnauzer Mandy died in my arms. While it wasn’t unexpected, it’s never easy. The end was mercifully fast- but I wish I had spent more time holding her, and not rushing off to the cemetery where they have a pet cremation service. I hated giving her to the guy who worked there, though he was so gentle and respectful… but I was saying goodbye to my best friend. I think about her all the time and will bust out in tears over anything that remotely reminds me of her. I’ve been through this before. I know it gets better, but for now, it sucks.
I spent the vast majority of the last 8 1/2 years on disability being at home with Mandy. We knew each other’s routines and quirks, and I miss that. When I unload the dishwasher or clothes dryer, she’s not there snooping. There’s nobody snuggling in bed over on her part of it, with her blankets and comforter. Nobody is there to do all she can to get as close to me as possible during thunderstorms. She isn’t here to jump UP on her recliner (yes, a people recliner), but then walk DOWN the doggie stairs to minimize strain on her joints. She’s not here to sit in front of me, and then walk backwards towards the kitchen if she wanted her canned dog food (or at the end, whatever people food I could get down her that was low sodium).
That last day started out like any morning over the last two weeks had- she wanted food, and was alert and snooping around. When ‘it’ started, she had either fainted or had some episode that caused her to lose consciousness. The whimper was the clue for me- she wasn’t a ‘noisy’ dog, so with any ‘distressing’ noise, I knew something was wrong and immediately went over to her- and picked her up. She started to squirm a bit, and wanted to be put down, at which time she went straight to her pee pads and peed. Then she walked about two steps and froze. The look in her eyes was one of incomprehension. She just looked at me with eyes that said she was scared, and triggered the ‘go help her’ reaction in me. I picked her up, and she ‘felt’ different. She wasn’t as stable keeping herself balanced, so I got her laid on her comforter, putting a disposable bed pad under her (after the fainting spells, she has bladder and bowel ‘issues’).
Then it was just time to hold her and talk to her. She had her ears up a few times, but it was obvious that this was bad. She wasn’t going to make it out of this spell. It was going fast, which was a blessing for her, but I felt like my heart was ripped out. I kept telling her how much I loved her and thanking her for being the best friend I could have had. I told her I’d miss her, but that I knew she was tired and it was OK…. she could go and rest. Her breathing got ‘agonal’- or more like shallow gasps every 5-10 seconds, gradually slowing down, her tongue getting pale. And then she was still. No more struggles. No more wondering what to do with her to make her feel better. No more medication or foods to try. No more hoping I was doing the right thing by her. No more heartbeat. She was gone.
My dad got there about 5 minutes later, and I’d already called the pet crematorium, that would be closing soon; they were going to wait for us to get there. I felt rushed, but knew that I would lose it if I had to put my best friend in a box in the garage overnight if we didn’t get her over there ‘on time’… but I really didn’t want to let her go so quickly. I wanted time to just be with her. I wanted to hold her for a while longer. I wanted that time to be ‘enough’ to feel like I wasn’t just rushing to make it before they closed. I know that the rational thing to do was what was done- but I just wanted those last irretrievable moments to feel her in my arms. To scratch her ears one more time (or two, or three). To rub that place between her eyes that made her relax. To just BE with her. To see that she was at peace. To just have time alone to say goodbye to my best friend. I might go weeks without seeing another human being at times- but Mandy was there every day for the 11 1/2 years I had her, and with me 24/7 for the 8 1/2 years I was on disability. She was my world. Sure, I talked to my dad daily, and we do see each other regularly…. but Mandy was my constant. And then she was gone.
It’s only been a week. I don’t expect the pain to be gone, or even all that much lessened. With nothing else going on with any sort of regularity (like work, that I was still able to do when my last dog died in 2001), Mandy was what gave my days order. This is a new normal that I do not like !
I’m planning on getting another puppy, and have found a breeder I like. The next litter is due sometime in the spring. I like this breeder well enough to wait; the photo of the puppy I saw in the ad for this last litter was perfect. An absolute doll- so I will wait, and have something to look forward to, which helps with the healing. I’m getting things puppy-proofed and some new goodies for her. I’ve picked out a name, and have first dibs on the female puppies with the litter to come. That puppy will never replace Mandy, but she will fill the dog sized hole that has been ripped open in my heart.
I’m so thankful for the years I had Mandy. She was special. I’ve loved each of my three dogs (all miniature schnauzers), but the amount of time I was around her made for a different type of bond. She actually understood a LOT of words. Dad could ask her to do the same things, and she’d sit down and stare at him. If I asked her to do something, it was done. 🙂
I miss her and will probably keep writing about her. I can’t imagine loving a human as much as I’ve loved my dogs. I’m lucky that I’ve had wonderful dogs in my life, and I know that getting another one means I’ll have to face this loss again. But life is so much better having had them with me for the years I have. There is no more loyal friend. ❤
3/28/01 – 12/27/12