In your last days… your last hours, I failed you. I saw signs, I had concerns, but I didn’t act. I was hopeful you would hang on, you would fight, and you would pull through. But you didn’t. When I awoke that morning, you lay silenced, in the same spot I had woken to find you sleeping so many nights before. It’s my fault you’re gone, and I’m so sorry.
Your medication for your Cushing’s was running low, but I was slow to call in the refill. When I would remember the vet was closed or I was busy, but I should’ve called it in when I noticed it becoming low days before. When I finally called it in, there was only enough for a single dose for another day or two, not the 5 or so days it would take for the medication to arrive. I could’ve told the pharmacist to rush the order, but the cost was too great, so I didn’t. I recalled how you were before we put you on the meds—bloated, drinking excessively, peeing more frequently, eating anything and everything… including slugs and snails. I figured I would have to spend a day or two cleaning up pee, or keeping you from eating slugs, but I never thought I would spend days in tears.
I saw red flags. I noticed you becoming more lethargic. You were hacking occasionally, your tongue sometimes looked purple. You stopped eating as regularly as you used to. I had to carry you up the stairs, and when we went down you drifted further and further back. On your last night, after you peed, you just laid in the grass, not wanting to stand. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how severe it was.
I called the vet that day… not your normal vet, the cardiologist who diagnosed your many heart issues a few months back. I voiced my concerns to the tech who answered the phone, I told her how you were panting more than normal, how you were hacking occasionally, how your Cushing’s meds had lapsed and we were waiting for the refill. She offered a tepid “well, did you want to make an appointment?” in response. I told her I wanted to speak to the doctor, but she wasn’t available, so she told me that she would leave your chart out with a note to call me, and that since the doctor was working if I brought you to the ER she would probably see you.
The doctor never called.
After I carried you up the stairs for the last time, I sat on the couch and watched you. I watched you sitting there, panting, unable to lay down. I could see something was wrong, I thought about if I should take you to the hospital or not. I debated carrying you to the car and rushing there to have them check on you. I sat there, debating, watching you pant, unable to catch your breath… and in the end I did nothing.
I eventually got up and began getting ready for bed, while you sat in the same spot, panting. I brushed my teeth, used the bathroom, and grabbed the various devices to charge over night, while you tried to catch the breath that was soon to forever leave you. Before I crawled into bed, I walked into the living room where you sat. I knelt down next to you, and began petting you. I told you to hang on, to fight through the night. I told you I loved you.
When I crawled into bed, I heard you attempt to walk into the bedroom. You made it into the hallway before you had to stop. Minutes passed before you were able to finally make it into the bedroom. You sat next to the bed, and I could hear you try to lay down, only to sit back up because you couldn’t catch your breath. I closed my eyes, listening to the rhythm of your panting, until I eventually drifted off to sleep.
When I awoke I couldn’t hear you panting anymore, I couldn’t hear you snoring, I couldn’t feel you. I immediately knew something was wrong and snapped upright. I looked over the side of the bed and saw you laying there, quiet, still. I frantically shook you and called your name, but as soon as I touched you I knew you were gone, and I fell apart. All I could do was lay in the bed and cry for what felt like hours. I cried as I eventually got up and covered your body with a sheet. I cried as I sat next to you and talked to you, as I apologized for doing nothing. I cried as we drove to take you the vet one last time. I cried as they carried you away. I’ve cried for days, and I know I will cry some more.
It’s hard without you, Penny. I look around and see constant reminders… the kitchen floor where you would plop down on warm days. The bed, Elephaunt, where you would sleep while I worked, snoring so loud people on the phone could hear. The toys you and Milo would eagerly wait for me to throw. I sit on the couch, missing how you would nudge my hand onto your head whenever I let it hang off the side. I open the screen door, and you no longer come trotting over to lay in the sunlight. I no longer hear you snort with glee when I walk in the door, and you no longer excitedly sprint around the house with Milo. When I wake up in the morning, the silence is deafening, your snoring had become as much a sign of the morning as the singing birds. The apartment feels so empty without you… you were a little dog, but your presence was enormous, and I the void without you is immense.
We had only 10 years together, but it feels like our time is over too soon. I think of the story I read some time ago, about the child who rationalized the passing of the family dog by saying animals already know how to be kind and to love, so they don’t need to stay with us as long. You were exceptional at being kind and loving, impacting so many lives in your brief time on earth, but it still feels like you were taken too early. It still feels like you weren’t done.
But you’re at peace. You were extremely sick in our last months together, and you are sick no longer. I tried to be the best owner I could, I tried to show you love, and kindness, and caring. But I wasn’t perfect, I know that. I just hope you know you were loved. I hope you know you will be missed… I hope we will see each other again.
I love you, Penny. You were such a sweetheart. Such a goofy, loving, clumsy, cuddly, chubby little dog… And I’m so sorry I failed you in your last hours. I love you so much, and I’ll miss you every day.
Until we meet at the Rainbow Bridge, with Love,