This is the last part of this story. I mean it.
The night was pretty uneventful. Belle and I went out around 1:30 a.m. for her to take her break, as I picked her up and took her to her spot. She walked in hazarded circles and did her thing. When we came back in, she fell to sleep immediately.
I awoke the next morning to her crying as she had been the last week or so. I went to comfort her, and as she tried to standup, she fell. She was no longer able to support her weight, which after discovering later, was only 23 pounds. I know people that have cats that weigh more.
By this time, the shuffling had woken Lily and she wanted to be let out of her crate. Both dogs where free at this point and I made preparations to take Lily to the dog park to let her burn off some steam before being crated for who knows how long.
I belong to a snow dog group on Facebook and we have weekly meetup on Sundays. The location changes, but one of the places is where I picked up Lily. When I got to the park, coincidentally the park where the meet was that week was the one where Belle and Lily met for the first time. They have a sewage pipe above ground for the dogs to run through and the group has a collection of all of the dogs names writen in a paw prints. Belle was not a regular attendee, but I wanted her name on there because she did go and was the reason I met everyone there (at that time). Lily ran and got drenched and muddy as she usually did, while I got the name on the pipe for Belle. I discussed what I was planning on doing with several people and they were all encouraging. The person that I was going to the vet with was there as well, as she is a member of the group. We discussed our meet up plans, and I took Lily home to have a few more hours with Belle.
When I got home, she was sleeping (see picture above). I really didn’t want to wake her but knew I had things to do and part of them involved Lily and her. I took the dogs outside in my front yard and let them “play.” By that, I mean Lily ran around and Belle just sat in the pine needles. She seemed somewhat happy being outside.
Once I knew Lily did her thing and Belle got some fresh air, I brought them back into the house to get some together time. Lily was still running around, and Belle was pretty indifferent. Lily is a poser and Belle is camera shy, so the best picture I was able to get is below:
After the “photoshoot,” I crated Lily and gave her the bone I purchased the day before. She sniffed, licked, and commenced to bite into it. Once I knew she was OK, I put Belle back in the car that already had her beds placed so she could ride next to me. I grabbed the leftover ice cream from the previous day and gave that to her. She shoved her face in the cup and started to make a mess again.
We drove to the vet, Dr. Alex, and the closer we got, the more of a mess she made. The cup I brought with me to keep my water cold, became hers for the day, as she slobbered all over it everytime she lifted her head and perched on it to look up at me.
The arrangement I made with Dr. Alex was to have the place to myself, as we were doing this after they closed. When I arrived, I weighed Belle just for my purposes, and they gave me a room to wait in with her. My friend showed, and we talked. Belle was just sitting pretty chill. We discussed her last dog she had to have put down and what that was like. I got her to try to take some pictures with Belle and I. Somewhere between me being goofy and Belle not liking her picture taken; we got a few.
The assistant came in and told us what to expect. I was only partially prepared, although I had been expecting this for over a year at that point. Her vet came in and also reviewed what was going to happen. He left to give me some more time. The assistant returned and gave Belle the numbing agent. She wrapped her in a blanket and the vet returned after a few minutes. I specifically choose him because I am friends with his wife and we discussed this a while ago. She told me what he does and how he takes care of the animals. I was specifically interested in how much he cared. He said a prayer as I pet the blanket and not Belle because of its placement. My friend started to get a bit weepy, but I was telling jokes. Actually, I was telling jokes since I got there. Then Dr. Alex started to cry. That’s when I started to loose it a bit. I welled a little but not much. I was partially containing myself because of my friend and part because I didn’t want to cry. The fact that the vet was crying and he only met her twice meant a lot to me.
She didn’t shake. She didn’t convulse. She just laid there. Still. Like she was asleep.
After the vet finished, he gave us some time alone. Again, I pet her, but I was actually stroking the blanket. There was a significant disconnect because of that. I was not touching my pet, my Belle. I was petting a towel. It was as lifeless as it had always been, so there was nothing for me to feel for as I touched it.
After a few minutes, I was done. They took Belle away, and I paid for her cremation. My friend and I went outside and discussed what happened, briefly. She asked if I still wanted to do what we planned and in response, I questioned if she was and if she was OK. She wiped back a tear and said she was. So we went to Disney to eat dinner and see a movie. The goal was to keep my mind off what just happened, and it worked. I did not realize anything, and I was fine until the next day.
I awoke the next morning, not to the crying of my little dog, but to the sound of the big one rattling her cage. I walked by Belle’s empty bowls and realized I would never fill them again. AND THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME! Like a flood, by eyes welled and the levee broke. I could not see in front of me. Everything was a blur, and I could not breathe. My heart beat irregularly as my shirt became drenched. And then I heard the sound of the crate again. Lily wanted to know what was wrong. I shuffled to her crate and informed her it was OK. She actually looked sad. Something I have not seen from her at that point. She knew something was wrong but not what. I opened the crate and let her out and then went to pull out one of the towels. I breathed it in, and so did she and we both sighed together.