We got Sophie in 1997, she was 6 weeks old. This is her when we first brought her home. Note how giant her paws were, that was a clear indicator of how giant she would become. She has been with us for over 12 years, the sweetest, silliest, smartest dog on earth. She has moved with us from Northern California, to Southern California to Portland. We've watched her grow into an old lady over the years, her gray hair traveling from around her nose all the way to the top of her head.

Recently Sophie was diagnosed with bone cancer. She has had a limp in her paw for a while now. On Monday she was unable to get out of bed, her back legs had completely stopped functioning. Even when she slept, in her running dreams she only used her front paws. I told B about it, he had to see it for himself before he took it seriously.

That night B came home and had her get out of bed and go out in the yard. With some assistance she got up and stumbled like a drunk man into the yard, falling multiple times along the way. After about 10 minutes they hadn't come back, so I went out to the yard to see what was going on. What I saw will haunt my dreams for years. Sophie was laying on the grass panting heavily, and B was sitting next to her crying. When I asked him what was wrong he simply said, "I didn't think it would happen this fast."

For years and years we made a deal with eachother. Whatever goes wrong with the dog, who weighs 105 lbs. by the way, as long as she can go the bathroom by herself we can manage. Neither one of us thought that it would actually happen. We gave her many chances to get up, we tried helping her so many times, but we could see the look of frustration on her face. Her legs were done. After a few hours of agonizing tears, we made the call to the vet. She would only be with us for another 15 hours.

The next morning, neither one of us needed an alarm to get up, we had not slept very well that night. I got up and decided that Sophie would feel better and we could cancel the appointment. I tried. She tried. She wasn't getting up. She was wagging her tail and eating just fine, she just did all of those things from her bed. At this point she hadn't gone to the bathroom for almost 24 hours. Both of us pleaded with her, just get up, just for a few minutes, just to go to the bathroom. Hell, you can pee on the deck if you want, just get up. All we got was a frustrated whimper. We spent the next few hours sitting with her on the floor, spending as much time as possible.

At 11:30 we both took a great big breath and pulled the car up. B picked her up and put her in the car. He completely broke down at that point. When we got to the vet I went inside while he waited with Sophie in the car. We carried her in through the side door and put her in a room that was all ready with a comfy blanket on the floor. As soon as she laid down she peed what seemed gallons. She had the biggest look of relief on her face. This is when things started to feel very surreal.

The vet came in and told us what to expect. She would be given an initial shot that would slowly dope her up. That should take about 10 minutes. After that she would be given another injection, via IV, and would be gone within one minute.

The first shot was given. I was really happy to see that Sophie was extremely happy. Like happier than she had been in weeks. Usually when we take her to the vet she shakes, but there was no shaking. We grabbed a big bag of treats and just started shoveling them at her. She was insanely happy and hyper. She had more energy than we've seen in months. We kept giving her treats and petting her. She gave us kisses and gobbled up the treats. Right then one of the vet techs who dogsat Sophie about 3 years ago walked in. She came to say goodbye. This was the most touching gesture.

After about 5 minutes she started slowing down. Fast. The treats were all gone and her head started to fall and her eyes got heavy. I was holding her paw, which I noticed was really tense this entire time. In fact, as I remember, it had been tense for about 2 months. It was the paw where the bone cancer started. That paw, and all of the tenseness within, finally relaxed completely. It was at that point that I realized that she could no longer see. So we decided that she could still feel and hear us. And we just talked to her.

After another 5 minutes the vet came in with an assistant. It was time to administer the final dose. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in the room for this part, but B said that he wasn't leaving. So I decided to stay but not look. So I buried my head in B's arm while he held Sophie's paw. I was balling. B was balling. I opened my eyes and saw that the assistant was also crying. She had never met us before. One minute later the vet put her stethoscope to Sophie's heart and made the announcement in a very quiet voice, "She's gone now. Take your time saying goodbye." And she left.

We got on the floor, said our goodbyes and left.

I drove home as fast as I could. I was about to break down and didn't want to crash the car. As soon as I walked in the house I saw her bed. It still had wet spots from where she drank water. As if having the exact same thought, B started cleaning. First he threw out the bed, then vacuumed the house, she was a big shedder. I got rid of her food, bowls and Costco box of treats. This may sound slightly wrong, but it was extremely therapeutic. After it was all done, it felt better to cry and look at her pictures.

As the day went on, we talked about her more. Every sentence began with, "Remember when Sophie..." And the day just went on and on like that. Funny stories replaced feelings of guilt. We kept reassuring eachother that this was the best thing for her, that she would have only been in more pain if we waited any longer.

This morning was rough. I expected to hear her wagging tail hitting the wall as I walked into the room. But it was quiet. Too quiet. More quiet than I ever remember the house being. There was a lot of sadness this morning.

I had to write this down, just to get it out. It was absolutely the worst day of my life, one that I will never forget.


Oh...MG said...

Sorry you had to go through that. Sophie sounded like a wonderful companion.

I'm happy you got to relive some of her best moments with B.

(Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl said...

I am SO, SO sorry. You guys absolutely did the right thing but ohhhhh how heartbreaking. I'm crying : ( I swear those four legged furry guys crawl into our hearts and set up shop.

Sending you a HUGE hug. I hope you guys are doing okay.

pdxgirl said...

just read the full story - so sad, but so special. sophie dog will be missed.

Predo said...

I have lived this same story as well.

The power of words fails horribly when it comes to helping your pain. I have nothing to offer except for the understanding of one who has been there and survived.

It never goes away, but the pain turns to loving memory. My soul has been filled by many such moments. They do live on, within us.

Big Hugs Sunshine! May you dream of playing with Sophie in the park, and may your heart be full!