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I Told You to Stay

I took Broccoli to the vet for a check-up. My old dog happily obliges. He loves the vet. Not because he is a hypochondriac. He loves everyone. His blood work came back. The vet wants to run a few more tests. Something is not right. I am skilled at detecting energy and tones. My knees go weak. A lump instantly forms in my throat.

Broccoli is huge and I have to lift him into my car because his hips hurt. Fortunately, I workout now so this is not hard for me to do. It is still gross when his lipstick slurps across my hand. I shoot him a look that says, “Really Dude?” And he says, “Sorry ‘bout dat Mum” with his goofy smile. I just roll my eyes at him. I am covered with dog hair. I never learn to stop wearing black.

He is 14 years old now. 98 in human years. I have only had him for two and a half years. I want more time. Sometimes I lie down on the floor with him when my anxiety is crippling. He instantly and magically soothes my racing brain. I feel peace. I am grateful to him. There is one spot on his head that still smells like puppy. I inhale it and imagine what it would be like to have known him then. I want to somehow bottle his scent so I can keep it forever.

I feed him the best food. Give him supplements. Make him as comfortable as possible. I never forget to tell him, “I love you.” Everyone is always petting him. He has finished everything on the ‘bucket list’ we made for him. Now he is tired. He has had a couple accidents in the house and he is ashamed. We simply clean it up and tell him how good he is. He now lets crotches walk by without sniffing them.

I let him wander around the yard in the evening, when it is cooler. He pees on my flowers. Normally, this would annoy me, but I know he won’t be here next year. My daughter reads to him for hours. I tie on a fresh bandana each day. He likes the one with flames the best.

He is not allowed to go on walks now. He can overheat too easily. He doesn’t try to hump the air anymore when he becomes excited. Nor does he greet me when I walk in the door. He just lays there and smiles. His tail thumping against the ground. He is covered with fat lumps. One looks like a giant breast implant on his side. I think he is the most beautiful dog in the entire world. I treasure the paintings Mike’s aunt made of him.

He doesn’t sleep next to me anymore. Climbing the stairs hurts him. I am not awakened by the smell of his farts. I never thought I would miss this. I was wrong. He used to love taking showers with me. I am not a creepy mom. Calm down. I always wore a swimsuit. Now I wipe him down with a warm washcloth. He likes this better.

He still gets up to intervene when the kids are wrestling or voices are raised. He gently rests his head on a lap or puts his massive body in between them. He doesn’t like this. We make a point not to get too rowdy. We don’t fight often here. We rarely yell. We never hit. He is grateful. He is sensitive and intuitive. I am too. I understand.

The pit in my stomach tells me his earthly work is coming to an end. I feel helpless and scared. The vet said, “Unfortunately, he is just so happy, he is the kind of dog who will never tell you it’s time.” I want to cover my ears. I don’t want him to go. I don’t want him to cross a stupid Rainbow Bridge. I want him to stay here. I secretly plead with God not to whistle for him to, “Come!” I know he will obey God. He is just that good. He is better than humans.

I decide to relish in every moment I still have him here. I want to learn more from him. I don’t have phantom balls to lick. So this lesson is unnecessary. He is so wise. I think he is smarter than me. I want to know how he found enlightenment. Was it a destination or is it a choice he makes each day?

He is pure. He doesn’t judge me. He doesn’t judge anyone. He lives in the moment. He is not afraid of living or dying. He knows he is happy. He knows he is safe. He doesn’t care about money or looks or trivial matters. He forgives his past. He knows how utterly adored he is. He will leave this earth as a revered king and the greatest of teachers. He is the truest example of love I have ever known.

 

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9 Comments

Reply Veronica June 29, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Aww. Saying good bye is always hardest with our furry children. They look at you with so much love and trust in those eyes, love you know you don’t deserve, even on their death bed when they are hurting the most. I love the laughs you put in between the pain. We all need to find those laughable moments to get through the pain too. Best wishes for a peaceful transition for all.

Reply Elise Atkinson June 29, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Three months in to losing my 15 year old dog – my best friend, my first dog love – I hear my words echoed above. You can tell yourself you are prepared, but brace yourself…. I’m still angry I can’t visit that bridge. But I’m happy we had all those times together – even the blatant gas in my face ones. Love and hugs and more love. Fellow dog mom.

Reply Amanda Vockler June 30, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. The human-animal bond is so amazing. I think they know what their “job” is on this earth… And they do it so well.

Reply Erica Hawker July 1, 2017 at 6:07 am

What a beautifully written article. Thank you for sharing. Broccoli sounds like an amazing dog who was loved dearly. Thank you for adopting a senior dog and allowing him to live his last years surrounded by love.

Reply Pao July 1, 2017 at 10:51 am

That’s really touching.

Reply Jackie Koh July 2, 2017 at 3:52 am

My hubby the Prospector sent me this link and said “This reminded me of Rocky”. Rocky also was smarter, wiser, purer, more loyal and compassionate than I ever was and will ever be. I miss him too much……..God bless Broccoli and may he enjoy his new life behind the rainbows.

Reply Mike Pettigrew July 3, 2017 at 2:11 pm

I can’t help think of my dog Angel when I read your story. Angel decided it was time to go almost 2 weeks ago and my wife and I were shattered. Like Broccoli, she was nearly a 14 year old lab, which is almost unheard of. She was the happiest, sweetest dog that I have ever known. And I don’t just say that because she was my dog. Literally everyone that met her instantly had a connection to her. I want to briefly tell you what happened to Angel to give you a little reassurance about the decision you will have to make soon. My wife and I were going out of town for a weekend on short notice. Usually we had family members watch her, but the event included all of our family so we were left with a choice of boarding her somewhere we weren’t familiar with. We decided to try a pet sitter from a popular app and found one that would be a good fit. My wife and I were very nervous because Angel was so old and gentle and we didn’t want her to get too riled up with other dogs. We decided that she would be ok and we left for our trip. When we picked her up on Sunday night we could tell that she was exhausted. We thought it was just because she had spent a weekend in a new place and probably played with other dogs more than she had in the past few years. We took her home and we could tell something was wrong. I took her to go to the bathroom and she collapsed in the yard. I ran out and carried her to the car and took her straight to the vet. The vet said that it was her time and my wife and I broke down. We knew that she was finally saying she needed to go, but we weren’t ready. Especially because we had just spent a weekend away from her. We made the hardest decision either of us has ever had to make and we let her go that night. My heart hurts because I miss my friend of 14 years, but I am so glad that she is no longer in any pain and can run free from all the unfortunate side effects of getting old. Looking back on the situation my wife and I have agreed that Angel needed some time away from us to finally let go. She, just like Broccoli, was the happiest dog and never would have let us know it was time. She always had to be around one of us and I am convinced that when we dropped her off at that pet sitter, she decided that she was going to let go away from us, so we didn’t have to see. She was so strong and had been holding on for so long. I hope you find peace in knowing when it is time to let Brocolli go. Cherish the last days/months/years you have left. And remember all the great times.

Thanks for sharing and listening.
Mike and Kaitlyn

Reply Jackie July 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

I love the part about the spot on his head that mum smells because it Smells like a puppy. Thought I was the only one who did that. My dear sweet Daphne the dapple dachshund went to doggy heaven in Dec. and I miss smelling that special spot on the top of her head that was so sweet, I couldn’t get enough. Brought tears to my eyes to remember.

Reply Suzanne Anderson July 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Erin, Thank you for such a beautiful, personal story of your Broccoli. They bring so much joy.

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