October 20, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I've been putting off this post for some time now. Writing, deleting and rewriting. Nothing I put together really seems to suffice or accurately depict what I'm feeling.

We had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put Emmy down.

I'll tell you now, if you're not a dog person, or ever had a pet that you consider your own, then you surely won't understand where I'm coming from.

Just over a year ago, Emmy was diagnosed with cancer. It was after we had left for the Bahamas, and I had traveled home for a work event. During that time, I took her to the vet as her leg had swollen. It turns out it was cancer, and she was given roughly six months. We were crushed.

But as the months passed, Emmy stayed strong. She had a rough day here or there, but we could hardly tell a difference when we were home for Christmas. We loved on her like crazy when we were home for those short six weeks - savoring every evening snuggle, every walk, every stuffed animal she tore apart.

Saying goodbye was beyond hard. I had gone through the same thing when I left her in August, but had to dredge up the strength to say goodbye again.

The six month mark came in February. Her leg had increased in swelling, but she showed no significant signs of slowing down. There came a time in March where she strained her leg, and we thought that would be it. But sure enough, Emmy bounced back again.

We came home in April over break. Again, we loved on her, and cherished the time we had with her. It came time to say goodbye, and I know we both hugged her a little tighter that last night we were home. Saying goodbye all over again. It didn't get easier as we didn't know if we would see her again.

And then I came home again in September. Emmy had been having a rough few days and was put on some different medications, but she still seemed to bounce back. She couldn't handle the long walks anymore, so Matt's parents would take her on car rides instead. She was certainly spoiled!

The cancer had started to spread to her lymph nodes. But her appetite and personality didn't really suffer. I didn't pick her up until my last week at home as I was traveling back and forth between Indy.

I picked her up on Saturday. She ran out of the house and straight to me. She rolled onto her back and had me rub her belly. It was the same routine we shared for years when I would come home to her. 

Saturday passed and Sunday passed. We took it easy, but we were both just comfortable being together again.

Then Monday morning came. 

The tumor on her leg had turned bright red and started bleeding. She was panting heavily. I could tell she was uncomfortable, in pain. Then she looked at me with those pleading eyes. If you knew Emmy, you know she could tell you exactly what she was thinking with her eyes. She was ready to go. And it completely broke my heart. 

And so the conversations began. Not only was it the hardest decision to make, but Matt was over 2,000 miles away. We had the conversation before, that we never wanted Emmy to suffer, to be in pain at all. That we would need to make the decision for her, not out of selfishness for us wanting to keep her here.

It had come to that point. She wasn't our fun-loving, sweet, sweet girl anymore. She was in hurting. 

Emmy wouldn't let me get near her bleeding tumor, so the only thing I could do to try and make her comfortable is to lay towels down for her to lay on. That night, I 'slept' at the wrong end of the bed, so I could be close to her, and make sure she was ok throughout the night. She slept more than I did as I savored the sweet sound of Emmy snores.

The next day came, and I was dreading what was going to come next. Emmy wouldn't leave too far from my side, giving me those pleading looks all morning. 

I tried to get some good pictures with her, but she has the uncanny ability to avoid the camera. So this is all I got at first.

And then I resorted to bribery. Her favorite treats worked wonders into fooling her into looking at the camera.

Then it was time. Matt's dad went with Emmy and me.

I wasn't sure if I would be able to stay with her the whole time. But when it came down to it, I couldn't walk out of that room when she needed me the most.

We said goodbye to Emmy that day. I held her and comforted her. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. 

Now we have a small crack in our hearts. I never considered Emmy just a pet. She was our family. She was a vital part of our day to day plans, our holidays and our every thought. 

One of my favorite Emmy stories is when Matt lived near campus. It was a house full of boys, so you can only imagine the overall cleanliness - or lack thereof. And of course, there were mice. Well one of them died in Matt's room and you can only imagine that smell. Then one day, Matt came home and walked into his room, and Emmy was sitting there wagging her tail with this mouse corpse laying in the middle of the floor. She presented it to Matt, and was so proud of her gift to him. Matt on the other hand wasn't quite as pleased.

She always knew when we were getting ready to leave. She even planted herself inside Matt's suitcase when he was packing for a trip. But when we would come back, we would most definitely get the cold shoulder. She'd sit near us, but with her back to us saying, "I'm glad you're back, but I don't want you to know that." 

And then of course all the times that I was sick or just had a bad day, Emmy was there to just lay her head on my lap just to let me know she was there, too. The time that I broke my ankle and foot, Emmy didn't leave my side for weeks. She hurt for me, too.

There are times when I wake up and still feel for her at my feet. I long to feel her face rub up against mine, and for her to jump up and just snuggle next to me for the evening. 

Matt and I are so grateful for the wonderful care she was given by our families and vet while we were gone. I know that is how she survived as long as she did.

I also like to think Emmy was waiting for me to say goodbye. She wanted my blessing to go, and wanted me to be there for her. This alone breaks my heart even more.

I was glad I could be there for her, but it was incredibly hard.

There was so much you can learn from a dog. The unconditional love they demonstrate is something to be admired. So for now, we are taking the lessons that Emmy taught us and enjoying the memories of the laughs she gave us.

We finally realize that she adopted us long before we fully adopted her.


  1. I didn't realize sweet Emmy was gone. Thank you for sharing your memories.


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