"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." ~ Will Rogers
Today I had the unfortunate predicament of whether to put my long-time friend and companion of more than 16 years, Attila the Hound - or Tillie, for short - to sleep. It wasn't my decision alone, but it was still the most heart-wrenching thing to have to decide. It was something I have been dreading for months. I had even taken her to the vet about five months ago and asked if it was time, as she had seemed to be going downhill. The vet checked her out and decided we could up her medications and give her an additional pain pill. She had a pretty bad case of arthritis, hearing loss, and cataracts, plus a sprained ACL. (I didn't even know dogs had ACL muscles before then!)
The new medications worked great until a couple of days ago. Poor Tillie now appeared to have either sprained her ACL again, or maybe tore it; and her arthritis was much worse. She could barely stand up, stumbled around, slipped, and appeared to be at least a little disoriented quite a bit of the time. I gave her the last of the pain pills, hoping they would help her put the spring back in her step - or at least keep her from falling down for no reason. They helped a little, but not much.
I don't know if I could have done it by myself. Leiua came with us, too, because she insisted. As soon as I put Tillie's leash on, Leiua began carrying on and would not be quiet. When told she was not going for a ride, Leiua bolted out the front door. She ignored my calls to come back, despite the promise of dog biscuits galore. I jumped in the truck and went after her. When I caught up with Leiua, I opened the truck door and she jumped in the cab. She refused to get out when I got back to the house. So I put Leiua's leash on her and my daughter and I took Tillie to the truck.
Once at the vet's, the hardest part was having to admit that Tillie's quality of life was not what it should have been. Her bad days outnumbered her good ones. Tillie still loved to be petted and had a habit of walking up to anyone sitting down and clunking her head onto their knee. If they didn't pet her, she would keep nudging them with her head until they did. That always made me laugh! Tillie was always sweet and loving. She would bark at strangers, but was never mean to anyone. She loved "people food", which I gave her whenever possible, even though my husband didn't approve. But Tillie hadn't eaten very well for several months, so I would feed her anything I could to try to get her to eat. She loved "Panda Express"!
Still, I knew it was time to let Tillie go, but couldn't bring myself to say it without confirmation from my husband and daughter. Once that decision was made, we had to decide what to do afterward. We decided to have Tillie cremated. Dr. Sarah and the vet tech came in and prepped Tillie. She was calm and quiet throughout the entire thing, although Leiua was very talkative. She seemed to know what was going on and refused to be quiet. Tillie was 10-years-old when we got a 7-month-old Leiua, and they had both always been very protective of each other. The vet tech offered to take Leiua out of the room, but I thought she deserved to be there for Tillie, too.
I stroked Tillie's head and spoke softly to her while Dr. Sarah administered the medication that would ease Tillie from her pain and our lives. Tillie went to sleep and passed from this life to what I would like to believe was her own Heaven to wait for us.
[As a Christian, I have always been taught that animals don't have souls and don't go to Heaven. While I believe they don't have souls, I don't see how they cannot be in Heaven, as I know for Heaven to be perfect for me, my animals have to be there. No other creature gives such pure, unconditional love as a dog. Surely, they are deserving of being eternal companions!]
We get Tillie back in a couple of weeks. Her ashes will be delivered in a very nice wooden box with an inscribed name plate. I can't even imagine how I will feel when I pick her up. I miss her so much it's crazy! She was so much a part of our family, the house seems empty without her. Leiua has been searching the house and the yard for Tillie and seems to be grieving, too.
Maybe I'll bring Leiua something from "Panda Express" tomorrow in honor of Tillie. I think that might be fitting.
Our gratitude and thanks to Dr. Sarah Smith, Dr. Laura Embry, and the staff at the Catoosa Small Animal Hospital for all of their loving care of Tillie and Leiua over the years, and for helping us through this most difficult time. They were very considerate and patient while we struggled with our decisions. I am very pleased that we chose them for our veterinarian provider when we first got Tillie. They have always provided the utmost professional, compassionate care for our dogs and us, as well. (They probably wouldn't approve of the dogs eating "Panda Express", though. LOL)
Finally, thanks to the Animal Rescue Foundation of Tulsa (ARF) for bringing Tillie into our lives all those years ago. We have had the best time with her and have made the most wonderful memories!
Rest in peace my sweet and beautiful Tillie.
We miss you so much!!
We miss you so much!!