Friday, January 08, 2016

I Haven't Adapted Quickly

Something wakes me. By the time I get my bearings I realize it's in the middle of the night. I'm guessing between 3am - 4am. The times just 4 days ago I would hear a whine from Winston out in the gated area of the living room. That would wake the other hounds one by one. I'd put my shoes on as fast as I could, grab my coat, prop open the door, get the t-shirt harness and catch Winston on the move to slide it under him.

Now, it really wasn't a whine that woke me. A whine you would do anything to hear again ... even if it were to take place at 3:30am. I almost beg someone or something to hear it again. I lay there in the dark and my mind takes no time to wake up and is going at speeds of an Indy500 car going across the "yard of bricks". An overwhelming feeling of sadness comes over me. Even the word sadness is not a good description, this feeling is worse.

No ... it's different now. That wasn't a whine I heard to go outside. There isn't a reason to rush out of bed and get outside. It's a feeling that makes you wonder how long is this going to keep coming back in the middle of the night.

I reach my arm to the right and feel a sleeping Heidi buried under her two Mexican blankets. I hear Sadie snoring from her stretched out position on the floor, her body half on the floor and half on the dog bed. Stella is so quiet you don't know she is there, rolled into the tightest ball ever, sleeping.

Soon after my thoughts move down the avenue of doubt. Did I do something wrong? Did I give him enough time to heal? Did I misread what I thought were signals from him telling if he was in pain or not? How could this had happened?

Those feelings and questions don't only happen in the darkness of the early morning. They happen at the most unexpected times. Maybe while walking the bloodhounds, realizing you are standing in the middle of the house during the day with no intention of walking anywhere, looking at a photo ... even looking into the eyes of Sadie, Stella and Heidi.

This is only the 3rd day --- it feels like a lifetime. How great would it be if people adapted to life changes as fast as a hound does?

Watching ballgames doesn't help. I can't focus at all, let along finish the book I was reading on December 18. Walking the hounds only delays the next rush of bad feelings. At least the hounds are enjoying it as they deserve to. I thought writing, posting to the blog was helping but really that is also just a delay mechanism.

I took off driving yesterday thinking that a roadtrip of some sort just for a couple of hours would help. Six miles later I make a u-turn and come back home.

Then I remember Winston's last 12 hours ... how he turned down water, sniffed my hand of kibble then looked up at me not eating any of it ... or how he had to lower himself one small step at a time with is front paws to get into the position to lay on his stomach .. how he could barely sit up from that down position ... the yelp ... and his looks at me. I know, as hard as it is to accept ... I made the right decision and in time I will feel better again.

I continue to get blog comments, emails ... more than I ever expected. I look at blog traffic numbers and am surprised again on what has taken place. All the blog comments and emails help me during this time. I know eventually things will get better and I never expected a fast resolution ... but it feels like a lifetime.

It's dark, dreary and rainy here in the "tropics" of Southern Indiana.

14 comments:

  1. The second guessing seems to be inevitable even when all the signs clearly pointed to the undeniable and sad fact that it was time for Winston's peaceful transition. We have had to put down two of our beloved dogs in the past 3 years. The first was my husband's guide dog Rusty--who also wagged his tail when they were taking him out of the room to put the IV catheter into his leg. The second was our rescue Choco, who had a traumatic brain injury from her time on the streets of Mexico that had caused painful and self-destructive changes to her behavior. Both times, it was so very difficult. Yet we knew in our hearts it was the right thing to do, just as I suspect you do now. We held them close, talked to them softly, rained tears on them, and gave them the most loving, gentle way of passing possible. But it's still hard. Try not to torture yourself with self-doubt, and instead, focus on the love you showered on Winston all through his life, and the gentle, loving way you supported him in his final moments on earth. When I read your description of how he was behaving the last day, I felt it through and through that you were doing the right thing to prevent him from suffering. I really do believe there is a Higher realm where our beloved animal companions live on, and love never, ever dies. Be kind to yourself. We still cry over our departed dogs, we still love them, we still miss them. But we also know we did the right thing for them, which by the way, is often kinder and more compassionate than many humans get at the end of their lives. Take care.

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    1. Thank you Tina for your very helpful comment.

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  2. Damn Dude! You had me crying with the first paragraph. . .

    But then again I just may be what you call a sentimental type. Our dog Ghost has been gone for 15 years and I still have his ashes sitting on a corner of my workbench. . .

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    1. That's the danger of you reading something while I spill my guts. :)

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  3. Ahh Steve, I think I know exactly how you feel. I have said “goodbye” to many dogs over the years and I am not sure why but my last beagle, Chiqui, has been the most difficult for me. I too have questioned my decision even though I know in my heart it was time for her to go. I have felt sadness, and also a terrible empty feeling. It does get easier but I still wake up sometimes at night and think I hear her whining to go outside. I just have to keep telling myself that she had a wonderful life with me and try to think of all our happy times.

    I read Winston's Story and can see that he had a wonderful life with you, and you have lots of happy memories of him.

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    1. You're right ... all I can do and should do is remember all the good times we had and his laidback personality.

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  4. Steve, I can relate to what you're experiencing. Almost exactly the same thoughts and feelings that I had for quite a long time after we lost our two. Took me a lot longer to get over some of that than I thought. Having other dogs around now really helps. Enjoy the hounds, and learn from them. They all have something to share with us. (Just don't eat what they love to eat the most!) ;)

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    1. Russ you're right. Having the other dogs around definitely helps. I'll be sure to keep away from their favorite delicacy. :)

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  5. any pet owner has been there and we all understand. there is no timeline on grief...we all just manage it as best we can.

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    1. You are right about that. I hadn't thought that my posts may have refreshed old memories for some readers and their pets and the times they have gone through the same thing. For that I am sorry. Luckily the joys of having a hound far outweigh the terrible time like this week.

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  6. Steve, within a 1 1/2 time period, my husband passed and I had to put my two Labs down along with my parent's Lab. The realization that came to me during this difficult time was that as hard as all of these losses were to me, I knew that my husband and the babies were no longer suffering and were at peace. That was ten years ago, and I still miss them all. It takes time, just keep your precious Winston memories close to your heart.

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    1. Thank you ... I sure will keep those memories of him close.

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  7. Grieving takes time, nothing wrong with waking up thinking about Winston. You loved him and you can't turn your heart off nor your mind.

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  8. One day at a time, one step at a time. I remember when we lost one of our Shelties at less than 1-1/2 years old. The vet had no idea why, even after an autopsy. I would break down at random times, when I wasn't even aware I had been thinking of Keegan. It takes a long time, & never completely goes away. It just becomes less "sharp." We're all thinking of you...

    Renee

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