Thursday, May 28, 2015


Watched a phoot essay about Dukey, a black lab whose owners documented his last day. It was filled with love, smiling pictures of Dukey, and his many friends who shared a portion of his day prior to his euthanasia. It broke my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably. 

Part of the reason may be that it was too close to home. It is only 6 months since we had Greyla put down. And Dukey was a black lab, like Greyla.  Yet, the tearing in my heart and the tears rolling down my face feel like tears of regret.

The regret exists bc our timing, mine and Greyla's was always off. It took me years into her tenure with us, for me to fully love and accept her. She was not an easy dog. And she came to us too soon after the loss of Jake, my heart dog, for me to bond easily early on in the relationship. But, eventually we did bond. But my regret was always that it had taken me so long to accept her for who she was. 

Then, there was the regret that came toward the end of her life. I am not convinced that our timing regarding the end of her life was flawless. She was in physical decline for a long time prior to our decision to let her go in mid November. Total strangers in the campground last spring and summer would question our motives regarding keeping her going. I was deeply wounded by those questions. But, we took her back to Pittsburgh in April last year for a complete physical, which showed her to be in metabolic good health. She had some arthritis changes in her spine and hips, but those were not a good enough reason to end her life, we reasoned. These were things treatable with anti-inflammatories and pain meds.  So, she returned with us to NC, and lived out several more months. 

Greyla's vision was poor due to cataracts, but she asked to go out walking in the grass multiple times daily, bc she LOVED sniffing the grass, and the ocean air. We adjusted her meds as necessary in an attempt to keep her paint free, as much as possible. 

Her appetite was good, though odd. For a short period, she would only eat her holistic, grain free, organic dog food IF it was topped with Spaghetti-o's! But she had an appetite. One of our criteria for deciding when to let go of our dogs over the years, included observing their appetite, fluid intake, and pain management. She seemed good on all three counts.

Yet, I wonder still, if we were looking for reason to hang on to our girl.  When I looked at the pictures of Dukey, today I saw a joy that I do not remember seeing in Greyla during her last five or six months on this earth. Perhaps our criteria for keeping her going was too narrow. Perhaps, it was bc of our wonky timing issues. I was so slow to come to love and accept her, that in the end, I was again too slow. This time, too slow to love her enough to let her go. 

I know that I will never have a definite answer to the guilt and anguish I feel about Greyla. I know that life is a crap shoot, that we all make mistakes. And I know that in time, I will probably come to grips with my questions regarding Greyla, and accept that even if our timing was off, it was still OK, bc we erred on the side of caution and love. It's just that I'm not there yet.

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