It is with a sad heart that I write this post. We have known this time was coming for nearly a year. Our dog Arnold started having erratic breathing last August. We learned he had a heart condition and put him in medication. This helped with the breathing but he continued to lose weight and started to have problems walking. He was 12, so it wasn’t a surprise that he would start having health problems. Foreseeing the inevitable future, we adopted our puppy Roxy in September. Our hope was that she would help with the transition when our aging dog would pass, we thought it would help with our 6 and 8 year old kids.
We love our dogs, they are just like family to us and they love us back with the unconditional love of dogs. Arnold has always been there for our kids, as a play-mate and friend. He has always been our Good Boy Arnold. Our kids have never known life without Arnold, he has always been a big part of our family. Our kids helped take care of Arnold and enjoyed playing with him. His favorite was playing ball! He was always good toward our kids, even as babies.
Although Arnold was annoyed by our overly energetic puppy, she was good for him. He started eating more because he didn’t want her to have all the good stuff. The rate of his weight loss improved, although he continued to lose weight. He started playing with his toys and chewing raw hinds again – because he didn’t want the puppy to have all the fun. You should have seen Arnold at Christmas! He wanted ALL the dog toys!
We had expected that the cold weather this winter would slow him down and cause his walking problems to worsen. Oddly enough, it didn’t. We thought maybe we were wrong, maybe he had another couple years ahead of him. Below are pictures of him getting loved on by our kids this past summer.These are pictures of Arnold this winter. You can tell he’s tired and worn out but our kids loved him and he still enjoyed the loving and hugs.
A couple weeks ago, Arnold started getting worse. All he would do is go outside to go to the restroom and would have to rest and lie down while talking his daily ‘tours’ of our yard. We knew it was getting bad when he lied down in the woods in the pouring freezing rain last week. This was the beginning of the end.
My loving husband would go out in the rain, at all times of the day and night to pick up Arnold when he couldn’t walk anymore. Until now, Arnold would wag his tail, enjoy being pet, and even want to play. Over the course of 2 days, this changed to pain in his eyes. He was dying. Every night before our kids went to bed, we told them to be sure to tell Arnold goodnight and goodbye before they got on the bus.
My 8 year old son has a big heart for animals, he has known Arnold for his entire life, and was already upset. As a mom, I wanted to take away that pain. My 6 year old daughter didn’t seem too upset about what was going on -I don’t think she fully understood.
My husband and I had to make the decision to put Arnold down last week. I have never had to make such a difficult decision. Why was it so hard? Arnold represented so much to me. We adopted him when my husband and I were newly weds, he was really our first ‘kid’. He represented our youth, the journey we have had as a family. I didn’t want to let go of him or of that life. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
Although Arnold was laying on the floor for 2 days, he wasn’t sleeping. Every time I walked by him, he was in a trance, a daze. He looked up at us like he didn’t know what was going on. We gave him lots of love and attention, but that wasn’t enough. He stopped eating, couldn’t get up on his own, and was obviously in pain.
That last night, my son couldn’t sleep in his room. He wanted to be with Arnold. Elijah fell asleep that night in a sleeping bag, laying next to his best friend Arnold on the floor in the foyer.
My husband and I decided to take him to the vet while the kids were in school the next day. It broke my heart to tell my kids to make sure they said goodbye to Arnold when they left for the school bus. I wanted to tell them that he wouldn’t be home when they got back. I wanted to tell them to really, really say goodbye. Of course, I couldn’t. They said their goodbyes and went to school.
The timing of the vet made it impossible to take him to the vet and bury him before the kids came home. We made the decision that I would pick up our kids from school and take them to the library and McDonald’s for a fun evening out. I wanted to be there for Arnold and for my husband. I hated that my husband had to do this alone – he was just as much a mess as I was over it. I hated that he had to take this burden on by himself.
I cried all the way to my son’s school but was able to get myself in order by the time I picked him up. He was happy to have the surprise evening out. I picked up my daughter at her school, she was just as happy. We had a good evening together. While they were running, laughing, and having fun with the kids on the playground, my heart was heavy and I felt so guilty knowing that they happy evening would come crashing down in a matter of minutes when we returned home.
My husband texted me,
I’m a at the vet…
I’m on my way home…
10 more minutes… (burying)
Taking a shower…
It was over. I prayed for him during the entire evening and wanted so much to call him and say “DON’T do it!“. I’m glad my husband is stronger than I am. My husband said that a little boy was at the vet when he took Arnold to be put to sleep. The little boy said, “Mister, your dog is pretty,” even in his final moments, he was a beautiful dog.
When we got home, Elijah asked where Arnold was. Matt told them both and they both fell into tears and utter grief. With tears, hugs, and holding, we heard Roxy barking. Elijah asked where she was. She was in her cage. He went to rescue her and love on her. It was a hard, hard evening. We rented a movie and snuggled on the couch. Elijah wanted time alone, he sat alone on the couch for about 1/2 the movie until he finally allowed me to be close to him. He was dealing with grief in his own way.
The hurt of losing a beloved pet is real. I almost didn’t write this post, I almost felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel such sadness. So many people that I know have lost parents, siblings, grandparents, and even their own children. How could I be so upset over a dog? Am I allowed to have such real pain when others are suffering so much more? I came to realize that yes, other people are in more pain than me. However, that doesn’t mean that my pain and love for my dog shouldn’t exist.
It’s been a week now since our faithful, loving, good boy, Arnold passed away. We still slip and say his name, I still think I see a glimpse of him outside or hear his bark. He made a special place in our hearts and our lives. God was good to us when he gave us Arnold. We told our kids that he is no longer in pain and that Arnold is probably playing ball – his favorite thing ever – with Jesus in Heaven. I’m allowing myself to believe that some too, although I’m sure it isn’t Biblical. However, the Bible does say that there are animals in Heaven, so what does it hurt to feel that maybe our pets are there too?
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9