Life with an Old Dog

Our dog is old. Lucy is thirteen and to be honest – we are surprised that she is still with us. This time last year, we weren’t expecting her to survive through the spring. And this past summer, we figured that she’d be gone by Thanksgiving. A handful of months ago, we stopped all medical inventions beyond an anti-anxiety pill we give her when unfamiliar people stop by with the understanding that we’d know when the it’d be time to say goodbye.

Well – we think it’s time. Lucy isn’t the same. We know she is leaving us – we can see it in her eyes. And I’m not quite sure just how we’re supposed to say goodbye to a beloved family member who has been a constant through the deployments, separations, the birth of our children, multiple moves, and far too many moments of joy to count.

During our brief time as part of this world, there are many who are subjected to horribly unfair experiences such as outliving children, enduring unfathomable devastation at the hands of mother nature, or receiving a diagnosis with little hope. So writing about a life event that so many have faced multiple times – the death of a dog – may seem small and indulgent to some. But I can’t help it. Our dog – our wonderful, loving, sweet, and joyful dog is dying.

We’ve prepped our kids on the very real possibility that Lucy won’t be around at Christmas. They understand that Lucy is old and not herself. And as much as we love Lucy – we don’t particularly enjoy life with old and dying dog. We have some hard decisions to make in the next couple of weeks and I hope that we are strong enough to do what is best for Lucy and her quality of life. The past year has felt like we’ve been slowly ripping off a band-aid. And at some point, we are going to just have to pull it off.

When we adopted Lucy, we were in our first year of marriage. We welcomed her into our family knowing that we’d likely outlive her and would have to eventually say goodbye. Our time with her has been filled with profound joy and an embodiment of love that only a dog can provide. And as we prepare to say goodbye, it’s my hope that she understands just how much she is loved.