Today I discovered the WordPress Discover Challenge. This week the theme is memory. How appropriate that with today being National Pet Day, I used this photo earlier on my Instagram Feed. This was taken on April 2, 2015. This was the day that we would say goodbye to our beloved Golden Retriever, Nikita “Nikki”.
I have a strong memory of that day. She had been sick leading up to this point, her body weakening to the point of not being able to move to a standing position without help. No one ever spoke the words during her slow decline, but I felt it in my gut. The “C” word. A few days prior to April 2nd, I would once again be at the vet talking about the ulcerations and swelling of her leg and about how the pain medicines did not appear to be helping.
The mass in her abdomen seemed to be wreaking havoc. Her breathing becoming more labored. It was a vet that I hadn’t seen before. We discussed what was going on. I asked her if it was cancer and she said yes. She had run an ultrasound over her abdomen when she took her back for some other work. This was the first time it became real. I thought it was cancer, but it had never even been said prior to this. We discussed the options as I choked back tears. I am not one for public displays of emotion so while my heart was pounding in my ears and I was wishing more than ever that my husband was with me, I somehow made it through the conversation.
I left not sure if I could actually make the decision. I wanted her to go peacefully in her sleep. She was the first dog that I had ever owned and been completely responsible for. I still remember the day we went to the breeder. Our boys were 16 months and almost 3. We had narrowed it down to a Golden Retriever because they are known for being good with kids. When I met the puppies, I felt drawn to both her and her brother, trying to decide who was meant to come home with us. Her brother ended up barrelling down my barely walking 16 month old, which made me nervous. I thought “if she shows me that she loves me when I pick her up, then she is the one.” I remember lifting her up and she nuzzled into my neck. I knew in that moment she was our family.
I even felt like she picked her name. My in-laws were in town and had come with us. On the car ride home, my father-in-law said that we should name her Nike and call her Nikki. At that same moment, I had been thinking that we should name her Nikita and call her Nikki. So she was named Nikita, but just like a child was only called that if she caused trouble or I couldn’t find her. The first night she cried and cried in her penned area My momma heart broke because I was sure she missed her family. We had an air mattress in our room for the boys to lay on since we had company. She and I spent the first night curled up together on that mattress. We would have an amazing 12 1/2 years with her. She grew along with our family, lived in all our homes, and loved us deeply.
We ended up choosing to put her to sleep. It was the hardest, most painful decision that I have had to make so far in life. In the end, I concluded that dragging out her pain was selfishness on my part. They schedule it so that you don’t typically pass any people in the lobby since it is such a heartwrenching day. I didn’t know if I would be able to stay in the room, but my husband would. We picked the early morning time. The kids would all be able to say goodbye. The picture is of my middle son. They said their goodbyes and left for school. We then took her in and stayed by her side until the end.
I love this picture because I can so clearly see the love she held for us in her eyes.
9/26/02-04/02/15. Until we meet again – “May the Lord keep watch between you and me while we are away from each other” Genesis 31:49
Let your light shine!