The house is so quiet. No one needs to go outside before we go to bed. There are no clacking feet in the middle of the night, the prelude to a trip down the stairs and outside into the dark. No one needs to go outside first thing in the morning. And no one is chasing Sweetheart out of the driveway when he leaves for work.
How things went
Four of us left the house to go to the vet on Saturday morning. Three of us came back.
Tuki and I sat in back of Talia’s SUV. Sweetheart sat in front. T had put the seat down on Tuki’s side and spread blankets out, so she could lie comfortably. She’d also bought a bag of freeze-dried duck hearts for her Best Girl. I spent the ride feeding them to the grateful recipient.
When we got there and got her out of the car, Sweetheart took her over to eat some snow. It had snowed the night before. Fitting, as it had done the same thing the first night she’d been with us all those years before. That morning, she’d been in constant motion, dancing all over the yard, sticking her nose in the snow and tossing what she didn’t eat, openly delighted at this toy that spanned everything she could see.
I walked into the office. Joanne was sitting behind the counter. She’s been the receptionist there since before Tuki was born. I put my head down on the counter and burst into tears.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing we have to do.”
She took us into the exam room and got a blanket so Tuki wouldn’t have to get up on the table. Tuki, never one of Park Pet’s grateful patients, stayed true to form, growling at the vet. Dr. Poehlmann told us what would happen – first a shot to send Tuki into the Happy Place where Everything is Wonderful (or that state of mind where, as Talia said later, Tuki would be doing things like staring up and saying things like, “Wow! My paws are SOOOO big!!”). Then, five minutes or so later, she would shave Tuki’s back leg, insert an IV and inject the drug that would stop her heart.
Sweetheart held and petted Tuki, so she was distracted when Dr. Poehlmann put the needle into her left flank. The vet stepped out. We got Tuki settled onto the blanket, and Talia and I laid on either side of her and stroked her. We talked and sang to her.
When Dr. Poehlmann came back, Tuki was unconscious. Dr. P shaved Tuki’s leg. She told us that the knee was very swollen and that Tuki had practically no muscle in that leg.
“I take comfort in biochemical information,” Talia said. “Can you tell me exactly how the drug works?”
I don’t remember what Dr. Poehlmann said. It had to do with interrupting some process or other.
Pho and tears
After it was over, we dropped Sweetheart at home. Talia bought pho for lunch, and we ate at Oldest Daughter’s house. We hugged Layli, my granddog, and talked about Oldest Daughter’s impending baby (yes, I’m going to be a grandmother, which feels very weird although I’m told by all my friends who have grandchildren that it is amazing). And, of course, I cried some. But it was easier because I wasn’t home. Then, I was. I spent the rest of the day sobbing.
I was a little better on Sunday, though not much.
“You need a bottle of wine and a cat,” Sweetheart said at one point.
On Monday, Sweetheart took the car to work. I managed to get all the dog things – water dish on a stand, food dish, food container, grooming tools and toys – gathered up and put away.
Then, I picked up her bed. She slept, ala “The Princess and the Pea,” atop a dog bed under which several blankets were piled.
I am not ready to wash it, or throw it away.