The Death of a Pet

As I twittered on Thursday, the dog I grew up with, Stacie, was put to sleep today.

Stacie was technically a purebred Bichon Frisé, although her large size made us all think that she was either some sort of a mutant or a Bichon-Poodle mix. In fact, her uncommon largeness was the reason that my parents decided to get her, as opposed to one of her brothers and sisters, since we three, energetic kids would surely put this new family member to the test.

And we did, over and over again, and Stacie passed, with flying colors, every time. Not just due to her size, but also due to her temperament. We would “aggressively” try to cuddle with her, chase her around, and generally keep her on her toes, literally. But she never snapped. Perhaps the only complaint one could inveigh against her was her love of chewing things—plastic dolls and human food alike.

She was my companion every day: greeting me in the morning before school, showering me with attention when I came back, and lying patiently on my bed as I worked on homework (or, more likely, played with my computer).

In her golden years, we introduced Jackson, a small, cute, playful Bichon, into the family, as well. I could tell that this was tough for Stacie—she was more inclined to laze about, but Jackson was always trying to get her to play with him.

After I moved out of the house, though, when Jackson had matured a bit, I think that they became friends. My parents tell me that they would sleep together in the garage every night, and, when I came home to visit, they were more likely to be sitting on a chair, looking for passers-by through the window, than to be fighting.

These years weren’t all good, however. Stacie became slower and slower to respond when called, until, eventually, she didn’t respond at all—she was deaf. And, as cataracts formed in both eyes, it wasn’t clear how much she could see.

But she soldiered on for several years, up until this last week, when she began acting strangely; my parents say that she didn’t want to be touched, and wasn’t as interested in eating as she used to be. A visit to the vet revealed a large tumor in her stomach, as well as a liver that was only weeks away from failing completely.

Stacie was in pain, and it wasn’t likely to go away. So, rather than see her suffer, my parents made the decision to put her to sleep. I think it was the right thing.

And that is how I ended up at my parents’ house this morning, an hour or so before the vet appointment. Stacie was sleeping on my mother’s office couch, as she tended to do, when I came in. Only her unusually heavy breathing signaled that something was wrong, and the sight of her in face of pending mortality caused me to break down into sobs as soon as I saw her.

I spent as much time as I could with her before we went to the vet. It was heartbreaking, because everything seemed so normal; it could have been any other visit I had made to my parents in the last few years.

But, finally, the time came, and I held her throughout the car ride, crying all the way. After the twenty-minute drive, I let her out, and we walked to the patch of designated dog-business grass for the last time. When she was done marking the territory, I picked her up again, and we headed inside.

The whole process was even more gentle than I could imagine it could have been. We took Stacie into a nice, friendly-looking room, and we had several more minutes to spend with her before an assistant came in to put an IV into her leg. Once she had returned, we then had our last chance to say goodbye before the vet came in.

I cannot emphasize how nice the vet was. She explained the process in a way that left no doubt as to what would happen while making us feel comfortable with all of it. She set a towel on my lap, and I cuddled Stacie there as the vet injected her IV with the solution. Stacie relaxed, and then slumped into my chest, with her face in my arm, just as she would any other time I held her. And then she was gone.

Stacie was my true friend and companion from the time we first met at the farm where she was born, more than fifteen years ago, to the vet’s office where she died, at thirty minutes past noon today. She is an immeasurable part of who I am.

Goodbye, Stacie. I miss you. I always will.

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3 Responses to “The Death of a Pet”

  1. echave Says:

    I’m sorry to read this and for the loss of your friend. This will be my dog in a few months and I take what comfort I can in enjoying the remaining time. I hope you can too, for it sounds like you have many good memories of Stacie.

  2. Sam (Dad) Says:

    Evan, your thoughts and memories of Stacie are beatiful. I was 35 when we got her and after you moved away, she bacame more atached to me, following me all around the house no matter where I walked and being my companion. As we both got older, I found us walking up the steps a bit more slowly together and looking forward to our naps even more. While Jackson demanded attention, I always looked out for Stacie and made sure that she was the center of my attention.

    The house seems so quiet and empty without her and Jackson seems to know that she is gone. I read somewhere that pets provide a timeline for a family and the loss of Stacie reminds me of all that has passed in the 16 years that we had her as a member of our family. We were very lucky to have had Stecie in our family and while life goes on, I will never forget her and I will always miss her.


  3. Mom Says:

    Evan…this was such a beautiful legacy to our little girl Stacie. I think that you said what we all feel in our hearts. There will not be a day that goes by that I will not miss her. She belonged to all of us but there was no doubt that she held a special place in her soul for you. She was your special dog and devoted herself to you and couldn’t wait to see you when you came home. I don’t know what 16 years seems like to you but to me it was a blink…but when I think back to all of those times individually, there are so many wonderful memories of our times with her and so many funny stories that are now part of the fabric of our lives…she will live on forever because she is inscribed in the “book of life…”


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