A story about my last days with my best friend
| I met my best friend in 8th grade. He was short, about one foot tall at his back, four feet from tip of his nose to tip of his tail, and ears almost one foot long. He was the basset hound I dreamed about for almost 10 years. One of the most difficult things I ever had to face was watching him get old and sick, watching his reddish-brown face turn snow white, and watching him lose the strength to stand. I look back now and wonder why I let him suffer. I look back with tears on his last days.
When we walked into the vet’s office I knew what had to be done, but we had to go through the formality of the examination. We carried Bubbah into the examination room, because he no longer had the strength to walk himself. The room had dim yellow light. I will forever remember the young, female vet look up at me from Bubbah and say “You have a very sick dog here.” I was trying not to be a blubbering mess, but I was. I was losing my best friend, my longest friend, my first pet that was REALLY mine. I knew I couldn’t let him suffer any more. It would have been really cruel to let him suffer, no matter how much pain I was feeling.
The days leading up to our vet visit were days of my mind and my heart warring with each other. Bubbah would spend the days lying by the heating vent in our house on his old, slippery, blue sleeping bag. My husband or I had to carry him outside and set him on his feet so he could relieve himself. I would sit on the floor with him. I just spent what little time I knew I had left with him. I tried to show him how much I loved him. He rested his head on my legs, feeling my closeness. I rubbed my hands over his thin ribs, and could sadly count every one clearly. I smoothed his now white face and felt his little mohawk he had where the brown half of his muzzle met with the white half. I knew the time was close. I needed to call the vet. I couldn’t let him suffer any more. I owed him more than that for the love that he unconditionally showed me all those years.
I was able to stay with Bubbah and pet him while the vet administered the first two shots. When it was time for the last shot the vet asked that we step out of the room. When the appointment was over, a vet technician led us to the side door to wait for what was left of my best friend. I don’t think they wanted everyone in the waiting room to see the tears streaming down my face and hear my gasps. I waited in the van as my husband retrieved the box that held Bubbah. I could only look at it once, but the image is seared into my memory. It was a white box with a blue strip and handles. I couldn’t believe they were sending him home in a cardboard box that was so bright. It seemed to add to the pain. Bubbah was a dog, so he never learned to read print, but I left him a letter on the box pouring my heart out to him one last time.
That day still makes me cry. I still miss my basset hound, my Bubbah. I will always love him. Even though I knew it was the right decision to have the vet end his suffering, I am afraid to feel that pain and to have my children feel that pain with their best friend. Loving always has some pain involved that no one can ever be prepared for, but the joy of the life and the lessons learned from that love is worth it.