My vet once said: “You never had a dog, until you had an old dog.”

Dear Reader,


Today is 10 September 2022 – a day that will forever be burnt into my memory. It is the day I took my Pixie to put him to sleep. At sixteen years and eight months – he was already deaf, mostly blind, and starting to get weak in his hind legs.


I went alone to fetch him as a puppy, and today completed the circle when I was with him during his last moments. We all know death is inevitable and part of life, but even when you know it is only a matter of time -when the time comes – it still catches you by surprise.


Last night we noticed that little Pix just falls over when walking on the tiles. At first, I thought we only needed to take him for a cut because he always slips once the hair grows too long at the bottom of his feet. But when I took him out and put him on the bricks – he just fell over.


At that moment, I knew it was time to say goodbye to my little one. I put Pix on the couch with me and stroked his little body – remembering all the love and joy he brought us. When it was time to feed him, I sat with him and supported his body so that he could eat. I was so surprised – this little boy of mine who always ate so little – this night ate like a lion.


Eventually, he settled down to sleep – and even though I would have liked to stay with him all night – I knew I needed to rest for the challenging day tomorrow. But first, I wrote a prayer in my diary for him – thanking God for this beautiful dog and the many happy years we had with him.

Thankfully Pix slept right through the night. But me and hubby – not so well.


This morning I shared a few bites of my rusks with him – as we’ve always done over weekends, and then it was time to head off to the vet. Although I wish I could have taken him to his regular vet, it wasn’t possible since we now live in a different city.


But we were fortunate that there was a veterinarian within a few kilometres from our house. I am so grateful for their compassion and the gentleness they handled Pix and me during this challenging process.

Firstly, they gave me some time alone with him before they took him to insert the IV. Then they put him on a soft blanket. With me by his side, she slowly injected the anaesthetic, and then little Pix just put his little head down and went to sleep. I stayed with him a few moments longer to say my final goodbye – and then – as hard as it was, I had to leave him behind. But even harder was to return to an empty house.


So what my vet said is so true: “You never had a dog, until you had an old dog.” Not only because when they get sick, you think it’s the end, and they take so much longer to recover. Or even when they are restless and can’t settle at night because of the heart valves wearing out. Or when you have to clean up their accidents in the house because they can’t control their bladder and bowels anymore. Ultimately, with an older dog – you have to face that long dreaded day when you realize it is time to let them go.


So you make the hard choice; do the right thing, and with your heart breaking – stand next to them when they enter that final sleep.


I’ve loved him with all my heart and given a choice, I will do it again. Because just like children, taking on a dog is a big responsibility. And ultimately, you will have to make the hard choices.


Rest in peace, my dear Pixie. I will miss you in the little moments we’ve shared every day. I remember how you watched at night while I cooked and the bits of cucumber you so loved. And you just loved real old Boere Pap – which I had to feed you by hand until you were so full and just turned your head away.

You would start whining when we didn’t finish eating fast enough. – we called it bitching – it was so cute we’ve encouraged you to do it every night. And your chin spins with excitement while I get your food ready. But later, when you were getting store and stiff, your slow trot after me when I go to put your dish down for you, or hearing the sound of you drinking water and the clinking of your collar against your plate, the moments you laid between us when we’re watching TV. Watching you sleep so peacefully curled up in your bed – often softly barking in your sleep.


And when you were younger, how you used to sleep on my lap in the sun in winter. And all the little games we played. How you used to lick the cream on my legs until it itched. How pretty you’ve looked after a grooming session.


Oh, how can we ever forget how gently you took that R100 from me during that one holiday. How I loved the sound of your nails on our laminate flooring when you followed me to the room when we went to bed at night.


And then there was the week we spent on the farm. You were running around so much that you slept for a full two days when we got home. We were afraid it was tick-bite fever, but the vet said you were just exhausted!


We are entering a new season, and God’s timing is good. Because we will now be involved in more church activities – and be at home less often – I wouldn’t want to neglect you. But I am also grateful that it happened the way it did – so that I could go with you and have the weekend to grieve – before life resumes again on Monday.


You will always live in my heart. You were a little dog with a big presence, and your little paws have left big footprints in my heart. I believe one day in heaven – we will be together again.


Rest in peace, my love – now there is no more deafness, blindness, weakness, or struggling for you.


Thanks for reading,
Susan

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