Letting Lucky go
How do you let a loved pet go?
When Lucky, my springer spaniel, was diagnosed with lymphoma, the bottom came crashing out of my world.
I'd been here before, many years ago, with another springer. How could history be repeating itself?
They were the same age, only 7 years old.
The knowledge of what was ahead was difficult but also a benefit, in a strange way. I knew the progress could be swift or, with good management, extra time could be gained.
We opted for palliative care and went ahead with plans to get a puppy as company for him and to ease the pain for us when we finally said goodbye.
This was, for us, the right way to do it. It's not the right way for everyone.
We found a litter of springers and chose one, bringing him home when he was 8 weeks old, where he was welcomed into the family and loved from the very first moment.
Lucky loved being with his new brother.
The puppy was a breath of fresh air and, for Lucky, a reason to continue.
He had six months of quality remission, loving having a baby brother to fuss over and play with.
Then the decline started.
At first there were little signs that all was not as well as it had been, he would be unable to swallow and so would cough up his mouthful of dinner and have to start again. Then his breathing became more laboured.
The tumours had started to grow and this time, nothing was going to stop them. Slowly they were filling his neck and chest, strangling him.
I needed to prepare him for the end, so each night I would lie down on his bed, cuddling him and telling him it was okay to go to sleep.
Within two weeks we knew we had to let him go. The vet came and because he'd been to the house before, the dog loved him.
Lucky slipped away so serenely and for us, it was a relief, knowing his struggles were over.
It wasn't easy, it wasn't a day I want to repeat, but I will have to soon. This happened 12 years ago and the puppy is now an old dog.
I am starting to prepare him for a time that I want to delay and not face, but know I must.
Lucky had the last word. We planted a beautiful deep-blue hydrangea over the site where his ashes are scattered. It was a deep, vibrant blue, a colour I'd not seen in hydrangeas before or since.
The next year it came up, a deep, dusky pink!
It's a poignant and precious reminder of a very special dog.
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