Our return from our quickie getaway vacation was marked by the death of my old greyhound. There are fewer things that are sadder than returning home from a very nice getaway only to find that your old friend is dying. Ti was my first canine companion ever, adopted fresh off the Florida track as a three year-old, and has been a mainstay in my life ever since college. She has lived with me in four states and a dozen different homes, moved across the country more than once, gone on endless adventures with me, and has always, always been there. Kidney disease and cancer were her downfall in the end. We got home from vacation to find a note from the pet sitter saying that she hadn't eaten at all in two days, and she wasn't drinking either. She had a 105 degree fever and couldn't get up. We already knew about the kidney failure, and I had already made the decision to not put her through a lengthy treatment of any sort when we already knew that her kidneys were at least 85% shot already. Despite all we did, the infection returned a month and a half out from her diagnosis and last intensive treatment. When the vet looked her over, she also had a heart murmur, which likely meant the infection was going to seed in her heart as well. I don't believe in making feeble elderly dogs suffer through lengthy and pointless treatments when they already have a terminal illness. She died peacefully in our arms, like a lady - the great lady that she was.
It is hard to lose a friend that has been in your life for so many years. Ti has always been there... always. To have her suddenly just gone has been very difficult. Her beds, her bowl, her collar, her blankets... everything is still here, as it always has been, but she is gone. It just feels so empty without her constant presence. Just.... empty, and hollow, and sad.
I take great solace in the fact that I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures of her, and memories as well. She has always been here ever since college, and so every photo album I go through has pictures of her in it, always there. They also returned her to us in a beautiful rosewood box, so she is still here with us. I've never lost one of my own pets (outside of childhood family pets), and never have been there for the death of one aside from the horses. It was peaceful and easy, and terribly sad. The finality of death is something I will never get used to.
The hardest part of it all has been the fact that there is no way to explain to a cat that their beloved lifelong companion is now gone and isn't coming back. When I first got Ti, she had major separation issues in the house - tearing things up, messes, crying, stressing. My solution to this was to bring home a tiny fleabag throwaway kitten as her companion... the rest is history. I named her Snidget, and they were best friends from day one.
Ti and Snidget have been inseparable for years. I accumulated all of my other pets only after I moved to Texas, but these two were with me for my time in Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, and Texas. After we came home from the vet without Ti, Snidge wandering around the house for hours, occasionally crying and looking for her dog. "Your hound is gone," I told her. "She's not coming back." But there is no way to make her understand. She sits by Ti's bed, stares at it, and cries.
She did at least get a chance to sniff the box of ashes. She went completely nuts at first, smelling and smelling... then she rubbed it all over with her cheek, and passed out sleeping. I hope she understands.
Rest in peace my old Dizzle.... we love you and miss you so much already.