Couch Cat: The time to say goodbye to a beloved pet

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

My girlie doggie baby, Artemis, a Labrador retriever, is now 13. She is blind, has a heart issue, and has arthritis in her back legs. I have let it go on too long. I have taken the decision that is going to put me in tears and sorrow. I have to take her in to the Vet for the last time, and let her go. Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is hard.

Those who are like me and love their pets like babies, ‘get’ me on this one.

I have been putting the inevitable decision off a while. I cannot delay any further. She is not living a quality life anymore.

She has never liked going to the Vet, so I cannot send someone else to take her there for me. She will need to smell me, hear my voice and feel my hand stroking her all the way through the process. She will not understand. But, I’ve tried to explain it to her.

On days when she was able to move well, she slowly navigates my garden perfectly even without sight. She walks to the gate to bark at those who pass by to prove her female macho.

My doctor told me last year that her end was near. Her heart and arthritis meds were working somewhat, but they are expensive and permanent. I knew a decision would be needed. But, now the moment is here.

My daughter and I will take her in on Monday. I dread it and am crying already. Changes in my life are dramatic right now, so changes in the lives of my pets are also dramatic. People must never own pets unless they recognize this direct dependent/love relationship. I am very lucky that my two cats and my younger Labrador are successfully provided for. But for Artie, with her age and infirmities, re-homing is not an option.

Aside from that, she and I are bound. I do not believe she can ever live with anyone else after all of these years.

I will bathe and brush her out this weekend. She loves a good stomach brush. I remember the day I received her after she was flown in from a breeding farm in South Africa. She was a runt and they were going to euthanize her. But, they offered her to me (I was on a waiting list for a pup) and I accepted.

She has only half of a tail as it was bitten off in her early days by her competitive litter mates. She has a strange extra-long tongue that causes her breathing problems. She is also short legged and squat whereas others in her litter are the usual longer legged Labradors. Before her blindness, she had light brown, pretty copper coloured eyes which, in the end, were no good in our bright Namibian sun. She also was one of the ugliest puppies I ever saw.

But, she was ours. We loved her immediately and took care of her well. That was 13 years ago. My kids are grown and gone now. We were talking on Messenger today about my decision. We all told our stories about Artie and cried together.

I just wanted to share this story as it is heavy on my heart. I’ll sit with her until she goes and remind myself that change is normal part of life.

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