Our little dog, Ana, joined our family on this date in 2008. It was an exhausting day driving round trip to Indiana, PA – but she was adorable and bonded with us very quickly. Soon, she bonded with our two other dogs and we were a happy family.
After her brothers died in 2015 and 2016, Ana attached herself to my thigh and never looked back. She slept next to me on the sofa. She slept between both of us in our bed. She napped with me, she went outside with me, she watched me when I went downstairs. And when I left the house, she crawled into my corner of the couch and slept.
When she was diagnosed with an unspecified brain tumor in early 2020, her proximity meant that I could quickly detect when she was seizing. We were at the vet every other week from March to August. There was no hope. All we could do was treat her symptoms and wait for her to die.
One day, someone left our gate open and Ana ran away. Laura ran after her, but Ana was hysterical and didn’t recognize her. Or me. She didn’t recognize me. I ended up chasing her down Chateau St trying to herd her onto the side street. I was wearing flip flops and very sick from a toxic dose of medication. But with our neighbors help, we cornered her and I thought that would be the worst.
I was wrong. The night she died was horrible. She had a few seizures and then suddenly it just became one long seizure. So at 3 AM, we were racing to PVSEC where they rushed her inside and began to sedate her for euthenasia because she was suffering. We didn’t get to say goodbye.
We just drove home, numb, and went to sleep out of exhaustion.
And just like that, we were no longer a dog family. For the first time in 26 years, I didn’t have a dog.
I’ve lost other dogs under sad circumstances, but my grief about Ana is still all-consuming even nine months later. I still glance over expecting to see her. I can’t bear to put her leash and toys away. I lay on our bed and feel her absence with an intensity that belies her 13 pound body.
I should be further along in the grieving process. I know this. But I can’t figure out what to do.
We cannot adopt a dog right now because we have a houseful of cats. And our pets have always ended up in our lives, we didn’t go looking for them so I have to believe that if a dog is meant to join us – that will happen again.
For now, my heart is heavy and aches with sadness. I hate how she died and I feel so guilty for not keeping her safe.
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