Sunday, December 05, 2010

Goodbye Macie

My last post about our dear pet Macie, who passed today.

Macie came to us from abuse.

Her previous owner, after eviction, left her to fend for herself in the back yard of their abandoned house. When the landlord discovered her, she was living on a dripping faucet for water and stones to fill her stomach to abate her hunger. I don't know what their situation was. Maybe they had no choice, but many times I have wished that they reach the level of despair that they thrusted our beautiful Macie into. I hate few people, but because of what they subjected our eventual family member to, I hate them. I have felt no remorse for that emotion.

We were fortunate to be able to provide her with a family that loved her without bounds. She gave us more that we gave her. Her love for our family was complete and without reservation. A dog's love for their owner always exceeds what can be reciprocated, and Macie gave us, her adopted family, her unconditional love.

Every family member is unique, and she had her unique and special kinship with each member. Each of our children had their own relationship with Macie, and she with them. Neither more or less special.

Life is cruel. When a pet ages at a rate 7 times faster that their owners, the pain of premature loss is expected, inevitable, but always without preparation.

Because of bone cancer, her life had become just a string of trips between places to lay down, and painful trips at that. Having become lame in her right rear leg, she made valiant trips into the yard to assert her territory against the interloping deer and hikers. But, I worried that, at any day, she may not be able to make it back up the hill and stairs to her throne on the deck. My dread of a phone call from my wife that our ever noble sentry was unable to climb the stairs back to her post weighted on me.

As her family, we made the choice that she was living an existence that was without pleasure, and with much pain, we decided to let her go. We chose to postpone the trip to the vet that day, but for probably selfish reasons, we made the choice to go to the vet hospital the next morning instead of that Saturday. I feel a little bit guilty about that choice, because the decision to wait another day, was for our benefit, not hers. That night was painful for us and her. I continually woke to hear her throughout the night, in a restless, painful sleep.

The morning was mechanical. Punctuated by emotion, but never a second though. It was time, but not without tears. We left before the kids were awake, arrived before the vet and sat with Macie in the car. Normally, she would have been apprehensive on a trip like this, but the pain and discomfort probably consumed and distracted her.

I went in to take care of the paper work while my wife waited in the car with her. I was fine until the vet asked: "How are you?" I couldn't answer, and she didn't ask again.

When it was time, I lifted Macie from the car to the ground. On level surfaces, she could walk by keeping her good rear leg centered and she had a labored skip. She followed us, unquestioning, into the room with a place for us to sit with her on the floor. We talked with the vet briefly, they took her for just a few minutes to insert a catheter which was to be use shortly. Then she returned to us for a final 10 minutes for us to thank her for the last 11 years she had given us.

When the vet came back in, he explained the procedure. We could sit with her as he administered a drug that would lead to her falling asleep and then quickly passing away.

As we sat there with her. He injected her and there was no indication of discomfort, at least for her. The hardest part for me was, as soon as the procedure began, Macie turned to me and looked directly in my eyes. I knew that look. She was looking at me partially for me to reassure her that everything was OK. But at the same time, she was reassuring me that everything was OK. We where doing what we thought was best for her, and she was telling us that she loved and appreciated our care of her.

Goodbye Macie.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Macie was everything we want our dogs to be--devoted, affectionate, protective, spirited. Saved from miserable circumstances she flourished. It could never be long enough but Macie wound up having a great life. I will miss her.