This is a really hard blog to write and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for this blog, but personal experience lends itself to authenticity and it is also therapeutic for me..so with that in mind I am going to try to actually finish this entry… I’ve been working on it for almost 10 days now.
First of all, let me apologize for my lack of updates over the past 2 weeks. It has been a rough one…..on Monday, February 8th I had to put down my 11 1/2 year old Great Dane, Cheyenne. It was the most challenging, heartbreaking and inevitably selfless decision I have ever made. I am still in the midst of the grieving process and as much as I know it was the right decision I continue to fight the guilt over choosing to euthanize my best friend.
On February 6th, Stephen and I came home after dinner and Cheybees howled, jumped in circles and brought us her huge doggie bone with a silly smile on her face. We walked her and then settled in for bed. When I woke up the next morning, Chey wasn’t in her dog bed, but was laying lethargically at the foot of our bed. I tried to get her up, but she wanted no part of it. I figured she was just being lazy, as she is definitely not a morning dog. I let her sleep for another hour and then got her up.
I struggled to get all 112 pounds of her moving and outside. She’s a geriatric dog and sometimes has rough mornings with her arthritic hips, but could barely walk. I wanted to ignore what was happening. In my heart I knew something was very wrong. We brought her to Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. Ex-rays revealed she had bone cancer in her right hind leg. The vet explained, this form of cancer is one of the most aggressive and painful. I could choose to amputate the leg and follow up with chemotherapy or simply administer pain medication for her comfort and let nature take it’s course.
Given Cheyenne was well past her life expectancy, I chose to take her home and make her as comfortable as possible. Stephen and I took her home and carried her into the bedroom. I gave her additional pain medication and she drifted to sleep. I spent the day in bed with her stroking her velvety soft ears thinking about the past 11 years of our lives together. I remembered bringing her home to New Orleans from Belle Chase, LA during hurricane Georges and how tiny she was at 10 weeks old.
She used to sleep on my head when she was that young. And might I offer a bit of advice to new puppy owners…allowing your new bundle of joy to sleep on your pillow on your head is not the best idea. On the third night of this sleeping arrangement, Chey woke up to make her way off the bed and onto the puppy pads but didn’t quite make it and promptly peed on my face.
I loved her anyway.
This beautiful, gentle, loyal, loving and kind being brought so many riches to my life, one blog post can’t even begin to do our friendship and connection justice. She taught me how to be a parent. She taught me patience. And I can honestly say, she taught me how to love with no holds barred. I will cherish every single memory of the time we spent together. Hiking Adirondack peaks, chasing seaweed monsters in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, body surfing in Cape Cod and eating roasted cauliflower with vegan cheese. Who knew a Great Dane could do such things!??
After spending 9 hours in bed on Sunday without moving more than her head to reach up to give me one of her nose kisses, I knew as much as I loved her, I had to let her go. I called my father and asked him to drive down to Jersey from the Adirondacks. By Monday morning she still hadn’t moved from the cozy spot on my bed and I could tell that her pain was increasing and the medication was no longer helping. She looked beautiful, loving…and so very tired cuddling her favorite moo cow toy.
At noon, I called the hospital and told them it needed to be done soon. At 2pm my father arrived. At 3pm Stephen and my dear friend Tatum came home early from work. The four of us spent the remaining 3 hours on the bed with her loving her up and treating her to a Reeses Peanutbutter Cup. Chey kept picking her head up to look at Stephen. I think she was making sure he was there, to take care of me when she was gone. At 6:30pm my housemate and veterinarian Danee came home. I laid behind Cheyenne in our favorite spooning position stroking her head telling her how much I loved her. She was surrounded by the most important people in her life. At 6:45pm she looked up once more to Stephen, sighed and was gone. I have never felt such emptiness and pain.
I suppose that with each day that passes it gets easier, but the hurt is still so fresh. When I work from home, the spot on the couch next to me is empty. There are no paw prints in the snow in the back yard. There’s no booty swirls or nose kisses. And I don’t know how long it will be before I am able to make roasted cauliflower with vegan parmesan, regardless of nutritional content.
I just miss my best friend.