Our vet told us last week that our dog Murray had inoperable cancer and gave us a one month supply of Prednesone to make him comfortable. We are to keep an eye on him until we feel “it’s time”. I could tell by the doctor’s voice and manner that she was skeptical we’d need a refill.
Losing a pet is never an easy thing to accept. However, when a pet is a "pre" pet-- pre-kid, pre-marriage or relationship, etc., losing them feels like you are also losing a little bit of your life “before” along with an animal you love like a child.
I’ve been a mommy to Murray for 13 years almost, which is a huge part of my adult life. My husband and I had been married for just two years when we adopted him. The circumstances that allowed us to cross paths with this dog were so unusual, it could only be kismet. He joined our two-year-old pitbull, Josie, and for the next 9 years they would be our only babies, an inseparable twosome.
Every morning, Josie, our late sleeper, would be awakened by her early bird brother licking her head until she got up. She’d growl and try to get under some nearby blanket, but he would persist undeterred because once she was up, we all were up and he knew it. It became their routine and how most every day would begin.
Even after our human baby was born, they were still our first babies. Some people told us that once our child was born, the dogs would become “pets”, but that wasn’t the case for us. Our daughter grew up around them and to this day loves every dog and cat she sees because of our first babies and how they were with her.
We lost Josie two years ago and it was heartbreaking. Murray is the last one from “before the baby” and I don’t know what it is about that idea that just makes losing him that much harder. It sounds strange, but it’s like a chapter of your life is truly, completely closed.
Murray is the one who, when you had a bad day or things were tough, would come to you and lay next to you. Not on you. Just near you like some furry calming force. He is quirky and very particular about who he lets near him. Anyone who has been to our house knows if he let you pet him, or really get within 10 feet of him without him running away, well, you were in rarified air with that dog.
I will never forget when I was pregnant how he lay next to me on the bed every night, his head resting on the side of my growing belly. Once, he must have been crowding our daughter in utero. I felt a series of kicks at his head. Murray popped his head up and stared at my belly, trying to figure out what just happened. From then on, he just lay near me, not daring to incur further retribution from that mysterious kicking creature inside of me.
There are more memories of him than I have space to tell, or that anyone would have the patience or interest to read. Some make me laugh. Some make me more sad about the current situation. He is special and always will be. That’s just how it is with our furry babies I guess.
My daughter knows what is going on, but she seems to have some sense of detachment about it. Maybe that’s a good thing for now. It isn't like she doesn't care, but she says matter-of-factly that he will be in heaven with Josie. So I guess in her mind, it’s not such a bad thing and certainly not something to cry over.
On our Christmas tree we have an ornament for each of the beloved pets we have lost. I may be adding one more to the tree this year. While I wish I could fix what will ultimately take his life, I know we will spend whatever time is left making sure he is loved like crazy and spoiled even more rotten if that is possible.
While chapters open and close throughout life, some are just harder to shut than others.