On Friday, my husband and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to let one of our beloved dogs go.
Buffy was 19-years-old.
Buffy and her sister, Roxy, came to live with my husband, Princess and I about 3 years ago, not long after my mother-in-law passed away and my father-in-law moved into a care facility. I have known her and Roxy for their entire lives, so coming to live with us wasn't difficult, unless if you count Princess not wanting anyone in her territory, but eventually, they learned to co-exist.
At the time she came to live with us, she was 15 1/2 and I honestly figured she would not be around for much longer, I never had a dog that lived past the age of 16. So I set about making sure her final months or years were comfortable.
Little did I know this one would surprise us.
Here's a video I took about two years ago, when Buffy was 17, doing something she loved to do...RUN.
Here's all three of them greeting me when I would come home from work.
We called Buffy the 'miracle dog' because in the last several years there have been a few moments where we thought 'that time' had come, but then she bounced back and proved us wrong.
She was a really good dog, very sweet and gentle and kind. Even though Princess didn't like her and would sometimes go after her with a quick nip, Buffy never let that bother her. She continued to try to befriend Princess at every turn and sometimes, it worked, as I have been witness to them lying together on a few rare occasions.
She had a long list of medications she had to take daily and needed to receive subcutaneous fluids every single day, something her sister Roxy oversaw, as you can see in this video.
While she couldn't 'run' anymore, Buffy spent a lot of time wandering and pacing around the house, here she is just a few weeks ago.
For the last week, I knew this time would be different. There was a huge difference in her behavior. While she was still eating, it was a struggle.
Everything became so hard , getting up, walking, drinking. When she could walk she would walk in circles for 15 minutes at a time, pace back and forth, stand and stare at the wall with her head down for 15, 20 minutes at at time.
The more I held her in my arms and she stared at me with those eyes with what I can only describe as 'pure love and thanks', those eyes finally told me last Thursday, "Mom, I'm tired, it's so hard, everything is so hard...I'm ready."
It's not a coincidence to me that my mother-in-law died 4 years ago tomorrow and that on Wednesday night I had a dream where I saw my mother-in-law sitting in a chair with her dog Ozzie (who died many years back) on one side and Buffy on the other.
Something was telling me that the time was right.
Even when you have that realization, it's the hardest decision to make. I didn't want this to be traumatic for her, I didn't want to take her to the vet, so I called Dr. Robin Holmes of Gifts of Peace Home Pet Euthanasia and spoke to her at length. She asked me a ton of questions about Buffy and I gave her answers and she confirmed my gut feeling that Buffy's quality of life was not good and that it was time to let her go.
I can not describe how much I appreciate Dr. Holmes. As a vet for many years, she says she decided to start this business because she saw how traumatic it can be for pets for this to happen at a vet facility. In home euthanasia, she says, it's less stressful on the animal and their humans, and can actually help with mourning for all involved.
She works on your time, encourages your other pets to be around as she does the procedure, and allows you to do this on your own terms.
I held Buffy in my arms while Dr. Holmes gave her a sedative that put her to sleep slowly, so she felt me holding her, talking to her, petting her and kissing her. And Princess was right there, not barking at me for holding Buffy, which she normally does, she just sat and stared up at the two of us, I believe, knowing what was going on. Buffy's sister Roxy, was sitting quietly on my other side.
Once she was asleep, I put Buffy in her bed, laid down next to her, and pet her while I told her how much loved her and would miss her. Both Princess and Roxy sat by her quietly as Dr. Holmes gave her another shot and she passed away within a minute, on her way to the Rainbow Bridge.
It was the most peaceful thing I had ever experienced.
Once things were over, Dr. Holmes left us alone for a few minutes, and we said our final goodbyes through our tears. Princess suddenly jumped in the basket Dr. Holmes brought with her and fluffed up the blankets in there, in an effort I think to make them comfortable for Buffy, and when Dr. Holmes returned, she gently picked up Buffy and placed her in the basket and covered her with a blanket.
Dr. Holmes handles the aftercare, and after my husband carried the basket out, she drove Buffy herself to the private pet cremation facility, and she will be coming home to us this week .
If you find yourself having to make this heartbreaking decision soon, please consider Dr. Holmes. Here is her website and Facebook page. I can not thank her enough for her compassion and kindness.
This decision is never an easy one, but I wholeheartedly believe I made the right decision for Buffy.
Pets don't get to live as long as we do, and any pet owner knows that they will be faced with the inevitability that they will have to say goodbye. This story is one that I have always treasured that I feel rings true.
So all weekend, I woke up to having two dogs and not three, and my tears flowed freely.
This morning, the routine was different, feeding two mouths and not having to hand feed a third, and it felt weird.
I'll miss her everyday. I'll miss the 'click click click' her nails made on the wood floor. I'll miss her 'cheerleader ears.' I'll miss the time when she would only eat from chopsticks!
She was a really, really good dog.
Here's a video I made on Friday with some of my favorite photos of Buffy.
Rest in Peace Buffy, run free at The Rainbow Bridge.