How do you say good-bye to your beloved dog that you’ve had for 15 years? How do you make the choice to end his life before he transitions on his own? I keep asking myself how can I do this? When do I do this? Do we continue to assist him in everything that he needs to stay alive? When is it enough for him? When is it enough for us?
My sweet Hershel started having trouble walking over a year and a half ago and completely stopped being able to walk around the beginning of this year. Since he hasn’t been able to walk we have had to assist him in everything he does. If he needs water we take him to drink water, if he has to go to the bathroom we have to hold him up every single time he goes. There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh poop first thing in the morning! There are many times that we don’t get him outside in time. If I wanted to have children he’s been prepping me for a newborn. I get pee or poop on me usually every day. He wears a dog diaper at night in case he pees (which he almost always does), I do multiple loads of laundry a week, and I sleep really lightly now incase Hershel needs help being flipped to his other side or just needs to move to a different spot.
It’s been incredibly painful seeing this happen to Hershel and knowing that his time here is getting shorter and shorter. It’s really hard a lot of the time, but worth it to look into his sweet eyes one more day.
I got Hershel when he was 3 months old shortly after we put my childhood dog to sleep. I saw the flier for cocker spaniel puppies at the vet clinic when we were taking Bo in. I felt guilty for even noticing the flier. When my mom picked Bo’s ashes up she noticed the flier and took the number down just in case. When I came home on the weekend from college my mom said lets call this number and see if any puppies are even left. I think there were 2 or 3 puppies left out of a litter of 9. The moment I saw Hershel I was in love. He came right over to me sat at my feet and looked right up at me with his big brown eyes and really long eye lashes. I told my mom I couldn’t leave without him.
Hershel lived at my parents house for his first year while I was finishing college. I came home every weekend to see him. Kier even surprised me one time with driving all the way to Port Orchard and back to Seattle while I was in class to surprise me with spending a weekend with Hersh. Once I graduated from college then Hershel was able to live with us full time. We got Leroy about a year later for Hershel to have a buddy while we were gone at work and these two have been the best of friends.
Hershel and Leroy have moved with us from Washington to Chicago, from Chicago to Atlanta, then Atlanta back to Washington, and now Washington to California. He’s travelled all around the US with us and seen more then most people get to see. My dogs are incredibly spoiled and loved immensely, and they are members of our family.
How do you know it’s the “right” time? Is there ever really a “right” time? For the past 10 months I’ve been living in the space that any day he could pass away. Any day now could be it. I’ve cried so much, but I’ve also loved him so incredibly much. I tell him I love him so much, that I am so grateful for every day I’ve had with him, that he’s the worlds best dog, and I give him so many kisses every single night just in case he doesn’t wake up in the morning. Quite often I actually hope that he passes away peacefully in his sleep so that I don’t have to make the choice for him. This is one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. How do I actually say good bye to my dog who has been way more than a dog to me? He’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, most beautifulest dog and I tell him this all the time. Our time together is getting shorter and shorter and I am so grateful for every day that I get to have this special being in my life.