I woke up from dreams last night with tears in my eyes. Over and over.
I would wake up and remember – the look on her face as she couldn’t get up from under my desk. The fear. The confusion. The look in her eyes.
And that was the moment – the exact moment – that my heart broke under the weight of what is right and not what is easy.
At 14, she is old for a medium sized dog. She is especially old for a dog whose hips and shoulders were broken and she had a litter of puppies before she was a year old.
And for 13 years, she has been my shadow. She’s never far from me – sleeping next to me, following me from room to room. She is always where I am.
We have managed the renal failure for almost a year. We have managed the arthritis longer than that. Steroid injections now monthly, special food. Careful management of water. Cleaning up accidents in the house. We have done it, and while it hasn’t been easy, it has been worth it.
And still, I knew, this was the long good bye. Each month, each change of the season was a small victory, a little bit longer we had her, but old age will always win.
Yesterday I could hear her struggling, unable to organize her back legs enough to get them moving so that she could come out from under my desk and follow me down the stairs to the kitchen. I went and helped her up and got her started.
She fell down the stairs a bit later.
And each time the look on her face. She would follow me anywhere. But she can’t – not anymore. Old age always wins.
And I can manage the accidents and the shots and the food, but not the look of fear and confusion. Not the look of defeat because she wants to follow me and she just can’t. It would be easy to wait just a bit longer, until things are really bad, but not right. Not the duty of love that I owe her.
And so, on Saturday morning I will lift her into the car and I will take her to the vet for the last time. I will walk with her to the very end because she would never leave me. I will stay right up until we have to be parted.
If you are very lucky in your life, you will get one dog that is yours – whole heartedly, unabashedly yours. and Maggie was mine. Always mine.
For that – for the love and the loyalty, the constant presence – I will wish that the goodbye could be just a bit longer and still do what is right and not what is easy.