Remembering Clark – Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Friend

by on 02/08/11 at 10:54 am

Nothing can really prepare you for the death of a pet. Even if you know it’s the right thing to do because they’re suffering.

Euthanizing a pet is something you only do when there’s no other choice.

We knew for a couple of years that Clark’s hips were going. We tried everything – that we could afford – to fix him. Some supplements would help for months, then we would see our beautiful old Golden Retriever start to struggle again. Each time he tried to get up, we’d hold our breath wondering if he would succeed.

Going down the stairs to the backyard was a 10-minute process. He knew, as well as we did, that if he lost control he would fall. If we held onto his collar as he made his way down, it would slow him just enough.

One recent morning, his back legs gave out in the middle of the stairs. He fell down the last three wooden steps. My heart broke.

Clark weighed more than me – I knew better than to try to carry him up and down the stairs.

Our big furry friend had to sleep in the garage that night. We left the interior door open to the house so he could hear us, hoping the normal sounds of our children and television would comfort him.

I think it was then that my husband and I knew what was coming – and ending.

I thought about his situation carefully. I found a vet to come to the house to examine him. I wasn’t going to make him endure another anxiety-inducing trip in the car that would be hard on his hips. The morning before the vet came, my kids said goodbye to Clark. Too young to understand what was really going to happen – I simplified it and said: “Clark is ready to die. We have to let him go.”

And so we did.

But I miss him much more than I ever could have imagined. He was my constant companion for 11 years. My first puppy. My children’s first dog.

I keep thinking I need to step over him in the kitchen, where he used to lay completely sprawled across the floor. I’ve caught myself 10 times this week wondering if I need to give him some fresh water. Each time, I just want to cry.

My husband can’t walk down the dog food aisle at the grocery store. It’s just too painful. Grief is funny that way. It will hit you out of nowhere.

You see, nothing can really prepare you for this. Even if you know it’s the right thing to do.

Alice Warchol is a freelance writer specializing inĀ pet issues.

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