There were two female puppies left and I chose the one that came barrelling my way, throwing her sister out of the way to get to me. The breeder told me that I should choose the other puppy because “this one” was too much like her dad and he was a pain. I didn’t care, I knew she was mine and I instantly fell in love. As I drove home with my new puppy sitting in the seat next to me, a feeling of dread spread over me. I panicked as I realized that someday I would lose her and this feeling of joy would be gone. But, I did what every pet owner does and told myself that it was a long time down the road and not something that I would have to worry about for a very long time. Except I did. Like a new mama, I worried about everything and felt like I had this terrible internal clock that counted down the days till we would part.
Jersey was now 11 years old and was very arthritic. She had been having mobility problems for quite some time, however, this day was different, she collapsed while going to the bathroom. I convinced myself that it was nothing, but deep down I knew it was much worse. Jersey had an ascending paralysis due to a suspected tumor. This ascending paralysis was starting in her hind limbs and soon would make it’s way to her front legs as well. My husband and I talked, cried (a lot!), and decided that we would spend the week with her and at the end of the week, we would say good-bye to our dear, sweet girl.
During this week I sat on the floor with her sifting through old photos and reliving all of the wonderful times we shared. We towed her in a children’s wagon around the neighborhood, to the park and of course to Tim Hortons for the deep-fried balls of heavenly deliciousness that she loved, also known as Timbits. We took one last car ride to our trailer in Orillia. We sat with her at the lake’s edge thinking of all of the hours she spent swimming and chasing her balls and Pooch Tubes. We bought her a huge fresh salmon fillet and cooked it on a cedar plank for her. She had ice cream and snuggles. We already had so many photos of her, but it didn’t seem like enough, so we took more.
So many people will comment to me during an end of life appointment that they wish their dog could have enjoyed just one more burger, one more day in the sun, or one more car ride. For some dogs, their health deteriorates so quickly that they never get this chance, but for the pets whose health is slowing failing coming up with a bucket list may help to form some great last memories and help with the process of grieving. I know that I will always treasure this last week that I had with my girl Jersey and I hope that this was how she would have chosen to live her last days.