North Bend resident and pet trainer at Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs, Melissa Grant, shares her very personal story of dealing with the recent death of her beloved dog Lola. Pets hold special places in many families and the loss of this family member requires a grieving process…. as Melissa explores.
I’ve written a lot about how to choose your dog, groom your dog, walk your dog and train your dog, but what I haven’t written about is how to deal with your dog’s death. I didn’t want write about it, or even entertain the notion that one day my dog would no longer be here.
Then the day came and I had to make the excruciatingly painful decision to let her go. My dog Lola has died.
I’m not going to pretend to have any kind of inside knowledge about how to deal with the death of a pet. I think everyone has to find their own way through grief. All I can tell you is my story and what I learned.
Towards, the end of March Lola became ill. I’m not going to go into any physical details here. I don’t think they matter, but over the course of two weeks I had to come to terms with the fact that my sweet 14-year-old dog needed to be put to sleep.
I always said I would NEVER let a pet suffer and would quickly do the right thing… but secretly wondered if that were true. Would I be able to make that last decision for her? Or would I have a doggie intensive care set up in my living room?
For all my emphatic talk, I wasn’t sure.
I adored my dog – and honestly, I thought more of her than many people. She changed my life; put me on a path to becoming a dog trainer; brought me out of the selfishness of my early thirties.
I became a better person with her around. I thought outside of myself for a change. Some people do that when they have children. I did it with my dog. The thought of her leaving me could make me cry – years before it ever happened.
So could I keep that promise to her to not let her suffer? In the end the answer was, yes, I could.
It turns out all my big talk was real. I had said I would know when to let her go based on three things: personality, appetite and enjoyment of life.
After unsuccessfully trying to treat what was wrong with her for about a week and a half, I sat down with her and assessed those three things. I realized my formerly jubilant dog was just gone. She hadn’t eaten for a week and slept all the time. She was just…tired.
I was very lucky. For being almost 14-years old, she still acted like a puppy. Then everything just failed. I took her to the vet one last time to get some blood work done, which confirmed what I already knew: It was time.
We are so lucky here in the Valley to have two extremely caring mobile vets. I was SO impressed with both of them. I emailed Dr. Mike Treuting first and was shocked how quickly he responded. He was very kind and immediately took my phone call.Unfortunately he was on vacation, but referred me to Dr. Bob Hogan, who agreed to come out the next day and put my Lola to sleep.
I’m not entirely sure how I got through that day and a half wait. I know I took her to the lake one last time. I slept on the TV room floor with her – and held her the whole next day until Dr Hogan arrived.
From there it’s a bit of a blur. He came in. She was on her favorite blanket on the couch and then two shots later she was gone. He very tenderly wrapped her up in the blanket and took her with him to be cremated. Two days later I got a VERY sweet handwritten note from Dr, Bob. Three weeks after that a rosewood box arrived with her ashes.
The next month or so was odd. My brain would try to find her in all the familiar places. My hands still reach out to scratch behind the ears of the dogs that was no longer there. I dreamt of her nightly – some good, some not so good. I slowly told people and tried to come to terms with the loss.
One night I noticed that the grass was very long and needed to be cut. I hadn’t been out there since Lola died. So I put it on my to-do list for the weekend and went to bed.
That night I dreamt about Lola and how after the grass was cut she would come in with clumps of freshly cut grass stuck to her coat. The next morning when I got up, there was a clump of bright green grass in my kitchen….
I’m going to file that one under “unknown” in my brain and smile. RIP Miss Lola