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Liz Langham, MS, CPDT-KA
239 Mountfort Rd.
North Yarmouth, ME 04097
207 837 1613

Saying Goodbye to the Family Pet

January 8 - The dog, my children have know their entire lives, is dying. She has only a matter of days to live due to kidney failure. Just 5 months earlier Emma went totally blind. The symptoms from her related disease covered her beautiful brown eyes with bloodshot silver blue.

The transition to death can go quickly or slowly. My youngest child asked if Emma's legs would go cold like Buddy's. This past summer our 16 year-old cat died of a brain clot. He was fine in the morning and dead that night.

Death is part of life. Having a pet is part of life in our house. When Buddy died we all buried him together. The children petted his body, helped to set it in the shallow grave, and took turns shoveling soil on top of him. We spoke our memories, we cried, they went off to play as I stepped upon the soil to make it firm and hopefully less fragrant and accessible to predators.

When Emma dies her drawn-out death, there will be sadness; there may also be relief. The care of a sick animal impacts the family. Emma is constantly monitored. Her daily walks in the yard take longer and longer. I must take note of the consistency and color of her stool. I must notice if there is blood in her urine and how much she is vomiting. The silly dog will only drink from puddles (frozen now) so we need to seek out the open water. She gets to eat whatever she wants because there isn't much she will eat now. In addition, the poor pup insists on climbing the stairs, even with her failing rear end, to get to my bedroom, a place of comfort. She must be carried back down once she has had her peaceful rest. The children notice it all.

January 14th - Somehow Emma is making it through the weekend but she is noticeably worse. She has stopped eating, even the cat food. Every time she drinks water, she throws it up. Her stool meets the description the vet warned me about. I know the time is near.

January 15th - Luckily the vet is open regardless of the holiday. I make an appointment in the morning for late afternoon. I want Emma to be the last patient of the day because it is so sad and I donít want to see any strangers. We congregate at the vets and the children say their goodbyes to the breathing Emma. They go out to the waiting room and await the inevitable. Dean and I sit and cry through her dying breath. The memories of the past twelve and half years swiftly race through my brain.

Out in the waiting room I can hear the laughter of clients amused by the shenanigans of their playing puppies. My children sit listening to the book their grandmother is reading, unresponsive to the adorable puppy behavior. Their beloved Emma is dying.

Emma breathed her last breath and moaned her last moan. The children came in and marveled at her stillness. She looked so beautiful, so peaceful.

The house has a void. When I walk the walks I walked with Emma around the yard I can feel her presence. She was beloved by all who knew her. She will be missed.

January 22 - The two older children get on the bus for school. My youngest sits at the breakfast bar enjoying his oatmeal. He looks up at me and says: "I really miss Emma. We could find breath and give her it." If only it could be that easy.

Written by Liz Harrison
Tree Frog Farm Personalized Dog Training and Agility Farm
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