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This weekend my husband and I made the decision to have our 12 year old Labrador Lucy put down on Friday May 16th. Yes, I put an end date on her life. I am crying as I type and haven’t really stopped completely since we made that decision.

When I was young and a pet died, my parents always told me that it went to live on a farm. Anyone else remember hearing that? It seems to be a pretty common excuse as to why the pet isn’t around anymore.

I thought my pets would just live forever, chasing butterflies and drinking from babbling brooks.

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We got Lucy as a little pup from a pet store in 2002. Josh and I were still newlyweds, sort of, having been married 3 years. We rented a little house in Los Gatos and knew we wanted a dog to enjoy. 

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Lucy has always been sort of a goofball. Her paws were too big for the rest of her body for the longest time. During her growth spurts her legs would sprout tall first, so she started looking a little like a giraffe. A goofy, clumsy giraffe. She finally grew into her 95 pound size but stayed in that “puppy-mode” for a full 5 years – chewing things up, jumping, and just wanting to constantly play. 

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We took her to obedience training. She failed miserably. So much so that she apparently became the fodder of conversation on “what not to do” with the trainer for years to come (I had several friends go to him for training their own pups).

She would eat the most random things – drinking cups, socks, glittery ornaments. Once she ate a remote control. Every time she would eat something she wasn’t supposed to we were convinced she was a goner until she passed or threw up the offending object and the vet couldn’t find anything else in her belly. 

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On my days off work (before kids), she and I would snuggle in my bed and sleep the day away. Her huge size and soft fur made a perfect pillow.

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When the kids were born, she loved them. My god she adored them. they were her “little humans”. As they got older and wanted to play she would allow it, even though I saw she started to get tired faster and faster.

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As she started getting older, we noticed little things – lumps and skin tags. The vet did test upon test. We were preparing for the worst. She always came back with “well, there’s nothing really wrong with her other than low iron”. After a couple of years of watching old lumps grow and new lumps form, we knew it was more serious. She began sleeping constantly. She would lick her lumps uncontrollably. She became incontinent. She started giving off a foul odor even after several baths. She spasmed in her sleep, but not the way dogs normally do. I know that she had tumors in her brain because of this. She has cancer now. 

This year had been tough enough – my father-in-law passed from cancer on April 16th. We would have made the decision sooner about Lucy but couldn’t bear to after our loss. But after the funeral we knew. We knew she couldn’t continue suffering and we couldn’t put it off. 

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Oh gosh, I just realized it’s exactly a month from losing him and losing Lucy.

She knows. She knows her time is fleeting. She knows I love her so very much. She looks at me with these pleading eyes, asking me to end her suffering. She’s ok with it. 

I am choosing to be with her for her final breaths. I want my face to be the last she sees and my voice to be the last she hears. A vet tech once said “Always stay with your pet, because when you leave they look for you”. 

So there it is. We will be another down in my home. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Looks like my father-in-law will have a buddy in Heaven…

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9 Comments

  1. My heart breaks for you. My black lab was 12 when the lumps started. First the vet said not cancer, then cancer. ..I knew either way her time was coming to an end. We made the decision to let her go. Thankfully, she went quietly in her sleep before we had to take her. Hours before. The moment she died in her bed the patio table outside shattered! Into a million pieces. I think she jumped on it and launched herself up to heaven. There was nobody anywhere near that table. I know I sound like a nut job, but I believe it’s true!

  2. So much love, hugs and prayers coming your way. I am in tears with you and can relate to so much of what you said and what you’ve been through. We lost our dog to nasal cancer, a few months later my dad passed away very unexpectedly and then 2 months later we lost our cat to cancer (he had fibrosarcoma from his vaccinations and stomach cancer). It is so very hard and my heart is with you.

  3. I truly do feel your pain right now as we just lost our beloved Buddy yesterday. He was 14 1/2 years old and has been part of our family since August 2000. Try to enjoy these last couple of days with Lucy because in the end all we have is memories. I think you are making the right decision by staying with her until she goes. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to make the choice to put Buddy down but I wish I had been at his side when he was taking his final breaths. Maybe giving him one more hug or having been licked by him once more could have eased some of the grief I am feeling right now. I will be thinking of you and Lucy on Friday.

    1. Oh Michele, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s such a tough thing to lose a part of the family. I have been fighting tears for days now and giving her so many extra snuggles. It’s so hard to see her in pain. Hugs to you during your grief <3

  4. Please accept my condolences for the loss of Lucy. It looks like you gave her a beautiful life, followed by dignity in death. Truly, that’s all any dog wants.

    I lost my heart cat 12 years ago today, May 16. I whispered a little prayer to him today, asking him to meet Lucy at the Rainbow Bridge and show her around. You can rest assured knowing your girl is in good hands… er, paws. <3

  5. Carol,
    I came across this post and I wanted to send my condolences for the loss of your beloved dog, Lucy.
    Your words touched me completely as we also had to put our 14yr old yorkie-poo (fur-baby) to rest April 2. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I still break down in tears almost daily and it’s been 2 1/2 months. We miss him is an understatement.
    I too have written a post for my blog about him but have yet to post it. It breaks my heart. But after reading your story I think I will post it.
    It’s comforting to know other people can relate, empathize and feel what you’re going through. And how very emotionally heartbreaking it is.
    So, thank you for sharing that and I hope you and your family are doing well.
    <3

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