Chaeli, 1998-2015Posted: September 4, 2015
Yesterday, I had to put my sweet spaniel to sleep forever. I talked by phone after-the-deed with the mother of my grandchildren, who expressed her regrets over our loss of Chaeli and then said, “You’re going to grieve, you’re going to write a story about it, and then you’re going to be okay.” Does she have me hanging on the right peg, or what?
This morning, Sweet Madeleine the Outback became a hearse, and together we delivered my Chaeli to Pet Angel (Cedar Hills), a crematory south of Spring Hill. It’s the same facility my vet uses. I’d asked Dr. Butler an occasional question about end times over the past year, because after all, my dog was sixteen. I’d even called the crematory to ask about private arrangements.
I am talking about this because I speak to grief groups, and I do a lot of talking to people who have experienced loss, encouraging them to do what feels right to them, to give it some thought, and to insist on what they need for healing. This includes the pet parts of our families. For me, I did not want to take my Chaeli to be euthanized at Pet Vet and leave her there. I wanted her with me. I wanted to be the one to take her to the crematory. It was important to me and the right thing to do, I felt. You know, you “do” for family.
So when I took Chaeli in to the clinic yesterday morning and learned it was “time” and it really needed to happen this day because she probably wouldn’t make it through the night and the last hours are difficult, I asked Dr. Butler about my need. He is extremely sensitive to death situations, and he was supportive.
I kept Chaeli with me through the day and returned at six o’clock for the final moment, and afterward, the doctor wrapped my dog carefully and carried her to my car. She spent the night with me in my house on her favorite spot, the air conditioning register in the living room. Then, this morning at nine, I loaded her into Madeleine and drove her to the crematory.
I found it empowering to state a need, to go with it even if resistance was met from some (which it was), to do for her what I needed to do for her and me. Sometimes these needs can make a difference in how we heal and go forward.
I truly hope this gives someone the encouragement to carry out a want or need for self and a loved one.
And the stories about Chaeli, well, I could go on and on, but I think my favorite was one time when Nicole was feeding the grandtwin babies. They were in their carriers on the floor, and she was spooning out baby food. Chaeli quickly took note of what was happening and that food was involved, went over and sat down in between the carriers, and waited for her spoonful. It was the cutest thing you ever saw.
And now I’m grieving, I wrote a story, and I hope to be okay. One day.