I’m a backward looking individual. I’m always re-examining things past to see where I could have done better, said something more appropriate, paid more attention to signs that were later revealed.
Recently my first love, Toby (my first golden retriever) floated into my mind, as he often does. I used to have conversations with him. Now I revisited his last days and wondered how I could have been more present, been a bit more engaged and taken a bit more control.
At the time, he was battling pneumonia for the second time, likely had other issues impacting his health and in his lovely 13 years looked healthy even when he wasn’t. I visited him at Southpaws to see how he was doing and during that visit the doctor on duty seemed to indicate that despite two different antibiotics, Toby wasn’t really responding to treatment.
Alone and very overwhelmed I struggled with what I should do. I now know what I should have done, which wasn’t what I did. I should have asked to take him home, spent quality time with him in a familiar environment surrounded by his familiar things and toys, given me and my husband time to reconcile that he would not be getting better and return to the sweet and lovable dog we often took for granted. And when we were ready, we could have said goodbye in a more family type way, making decisions together rather than me on my own.
I know he was not himself but I also know that everything went much too quickly, I was overcome with pressure to make a decision about his continued life and only saw that his prognosis wasn’t good and didn’t want to prolong his pain. However, taking a day or two to properly say goodbye, take appropriate time off work to grieve, and just being kind is exactly how I would have liked to handle his passing. Four years later, I know how I could have been with Toby, my husband, and support network instead of all alone in a sterile vet room saying goodbye to my beloved ball of fur.
I’ll be better the next time this issue comes up. I like to be prepared even for the most challenging situations and know what my heart wants even when it is breaking and can’t really keep up with the head.