After you hear the words that can’t be unheard

We are looking at sooner rather than later to euthanise her … maybe this week.

So, what exactly does go through your head after you hear the words that can’t be unheared?

Monday 6 March
But we have so much left to do.

It’s not fair.

I’m not ready.

Love Bug and Beary aren’t ready.

She and I had a deal. We made it the day she became my family. My friend Martin and she were both to be at my 50th birthday. We shook paws on it!

Is she ready? Really ready? Or is this all a mistake? Is there something else I should have done? Could have done?

{Ridiculously} maybe the vet just wants this over? I told you, ridiculous right? Particularly considering he said to me that this was always going to be extra tough on us because he knows how loved she is – and that she’s one of their most loved patients.

The vet nurse got all teary when she was saying goodbye. And she has only known us for a couple of years.

‘We will hold out for a miracle on Monday with her results and we won’t make any plans before then.’

How am I supposed to read an information card about pet cremation when I can’t see straight. At one point I thought there may have been an earthquake, or at least a tremor, because I felt myself wobble. Actually, it’s happened a few times.

When I think I’m okay for the moment, something happens and I think ‘but I will be doing that without Bella for the first time in a long time’.

She has been my everything. In the past 11½ years I have had her by my side while I have faced big life rocks:

  • Recovered from my most broken heart
  • Had my home broken into while I slept – she chased the bad guy away
  • A date that went horribly wrong {she chased that bad guy away too}
  • Moved house … six times
  • Lost my job through redundancy … twice
  • Welcomed Beary into our world
  • Thought a LOT about having a baby
  • Welcomed that baby, making us a family of four
  • Lived through a nightmare and the ensuing court case
  • Started big school
  • Started dating again

… and that’s just the big stuff.

She’s had more tears cried into her fur than I could count.

We’ve curled up to read Harry Potter, twice. And more other books than I can remember.

We’ve written a blog, making friends around the world.

She greets me every day at the front door, tail wagging, gift of one of her toys in her mouth, an offering for my safe return to her.

She’s been my little spoon. With the exception of being physically away from her, and in the late stages of my pregnancy {although even then she was within touching distance and generally had a paw or head resting on me somewhere} I have gone to sleep knowing she was beside me. Feeling her warmth and the rise and fall of her breathing descending into snoring as her sleep deepened. How will I fall asleep now? Sleep has never been the greatest of eases for me, but knowing I could pull Bella into my arms always brought me comfort.

Before anyone suggests Beary, he is only a snuggler on his terms. If I try to pull him to me in the night he’ll jump off the bed entirely. If he wants to snuggle though, it’s totally fine. Dare I say it? Such a boy: if it’s his idea it’s a good one! He does give amazing cuddles though, so I hope he decides they’re a good idea sooner than later.

For her garbage emptying escapades and her deep snoring which is loud enough for the neighbours to hear, she has always been such a lady, tucking her tail between her legs as she lays down. She is stoic. Whether this is from me poking and prodding her everywhere since the day we met, or because she was abandoned as she was as a pup I’ll never know. As much as this characteristic has been a blessing during our many years of vet visits, needles, little operations, thermometers, nail clipping and so on, now I’m not so sure it will work in our favour as her tumour grows. Pain is the last thing I want for her. We have meds to lessen anything she may be feeling. She hasn’t given any physical indicators as yet, other than not wanting anyone to touch the left side of her face. She is my puppy so hopefully I will just know.

I’m not going to enjoy being able to walk freely around my house without checking that there’s someone on the floor beside me, or just around the corner, or in the most awkward of spots. To walk without fear of tripping over a bundle of fuzzy love is something I’ve forgotten how to do.

Will I hold her like little spoon when they give her the needle? Or will I lay in front of her so she can look in my eyes. I want to hold her close while she takes her last breath, but I want to look at her so she knows I’m with her. That I have been with her in this life and I am entirely sure our souls will meet again. The thought that they won’t is just too much to bear.

I didn’t want to have any part in making this decision. I wanted us to die in our sleep holding paws when we’re old. Really old. Really really old.

For my whole life, even more so since becoming vegan {and in the years prior as a vegetarian}, animal neglect, cruelty and abuse have been abhorrent to me. I don’t know how anyone can bring a companion animal into their family then mistreat them. In the past few days, notification of such things is cutting even deeper than it usually does. One Facebook post reduced me to tears in a heartbeat – the utter neglect of a family’s “pet” dog who had been left in the back garden tied up for 11 years and had just been surrendered. I wrote: I can not understand people. I have loved my dog for 11.5 years and was told by our vet that I am losing her because of an insidious cancer. My world is rocked to the core and I am broken – my heart shattered into a million irreparable pieces. Which is how you should feel after being lucky enough to spend 11 years with a dog. I’m going to give my Bella another cuddle.  {Sadly, that dog died just days later due to complications of being so badly treated.}

Bella, Bellalicious, Bella the wonderpup, my puppy, fuzzy soulmate, princess Bella, loved up pup – I feel like nothing I say to her or about can ever be enough. I’m worried I will miss something, or forget something really important that she’s been to me or helped me through. How can I repay the immense and overwhelming love she has given me for over a decade. How can I adequately and eloquently put into words the impact she has had on my life? On my heart? The lessons she has taught me? How little did I know and how insanely I underestimated that scrap of a dog who leapt into my arms when I asked are you my puppy? all those years ago in a rescue foster home many miles away.

So I will say this from the bottom of my irreparably broken heart: thank you Bella. For being my dog. For being the best dog. For being my confidant, my friend and my family. My heart is in more pieces than I had ever imagined possible. I will miss your precious spirit and presence in my life with a force that threatens to crush me.

I will always love you.

Tuesday 7 March
My shadow. I have worked from home today and my little shadow has been with me no matter what room I’m in. She has always done this. I’m sure going to miss it.

The interminable wait for the vet’s call with the pathology results continues.

Wednesday 8 March
The call came. There will be no miracle. Now to get our heads around saying goodbye. How?

Thursday 9 March
I spoke to the vet again last night. No further news despite further testing. He thinks she probably only has a few weeks at most so will monitor her over next few days but we both agree for her not to decline for the sake of me having extra days with her so still probably next Thursday 💔 Vet does home visits between 1 and 4pm … I can pick Love Bug up from school at normal time then we can all be together for it. I don’t work Fridays so I will be home {grieving and with Beary} and Love Bug can either go to school or stay home. Or if she goes to school but then wants to come home it’s easier. Then the 3 of us have the weekend together. We may all be okay or we may all be a sad sack in bed for the weekend. It’s just the day that gives us the most time together after. The tumour is growing rapidly so I don’t want Love Bug’s memories of her to be with a deformed face or bulging eye, or in pain. Bella is still a happy tail wagging puppy right now. She’s keen to share any food we have and she is not apparently in any pain {although she does flinch if you go near the left side of her face}. Her breathing and bleeding from her left nostril are the issues. I don’t want her in distress {which has been increasingly happening with her breathing – although she is fine after short bursts}. I want to say goodbye to her with as much dignity as we can, and if we can do it in a non-emergency kind of situation that would be ideal.  We {me, Love Bug and Beary} want and need to remember her as the happy, tail wagging puppy who went, in peace, in her own home with her favourite people around her and not in an emergency room which is filled with anxiety and worry and strange smells. Obviously I want her to live forever. I have been second-guessing myself constantly. And the vet. But I think that boils down to the huge burden it is to be involved with ending the life of someone so loved.

I have been taking even more photos and filming more than usual – I just wish I could bottle the smell of her paws and the top of her head and feel forever the soft velvet of her precious ears 😢💔

She elicits love and emotion from many people who are self-professed “not dog people”. Probably because she’s not your average dog!

Monday 13 March
I did it. I called the vet. Then I thought better of it and sent an email instead. Easier to type and cry than talk and cry.

My biggest fear for me: without Bella being accredited as such, she has absolutely been my service/therapy dog. My anxiety has been crippling in the past few weeks but she’s been there with me. I can barely breathe when I think about facing the swamp without her.

Thursday 16 March
I’m so sad. I’ve had such rotten nights the past 2. Tuesday I didn’t go to bed until 1:30am. Maybe if I didn’t go to sleep the future wouldn’t come? Last night I went to bed relatively early and Love Bug went to bed relatively late. The four of us climbed into my bed and snuggled up together. We all slept fitfully and I had awful nightmares. About Bella being euthanised before I could say goodbye. About a predator getting under my radar with Love Bug. About all manner of other awful things.

Today I feel like I’m walking in a swamp. Or a fog. My head is pounding, my anxiety is awful, despite my medication and extra natural remedies. My heart is shattering.

Thank heaven for my beautiful mumma who is here pottering around and keeping Love Bug looked after. I feel like I’ve run out. I’ve had so much care and concern and thought and planning for the three of us leading up to today, but today I’ve got nothing. Bella also has nothing today. I had to lift her onto the bed this morning. She ate her breakfast but hasn’t wanted a kong with peanut butter so that really tells me something. Her eye is obviously swollen today and the blood from her nose is consistent. She looks tired. Each time I move more than a few inches away from her she seeks me out and makes sure her paw is touching me, or she is leaning on me.

And there goes another crack in my heart. Beary is subdued. He keeps sniffing both of us and licking Bella’s face as if trying to fix her cancer with his love. If love alone could fix her, she would no doubt live forever.

Her last meal was a bed picnic of peanut butter sandwiches, some cheese and ice cream {vegan of course!}.

Later that evening
I feel like I’m in a total fog – other than the insanely focused things around me. Bella’s favourite toy. Beary digging the blanket to try to get her out once she’d passed. The lovely vet unwrapping her so he could say his goodbyes. The guttural scream from Love Bug. The look in Love Bug’s eyes when she said she remembered something that she hadn’t done with Bella – and now she couldn’t do it. The emergency services sign on my door that alerts 2 dogs living here. I dropped a blueberry on the floor and had to pick it up myself. I haven’t done that in almost 12 years.

She’s gone. My precious puppy of love is gone. It rips my heart to shreds. Beary {despite being mildly sedated} is walking around the house from room to room sniffing everything and whimpering.

The vets came to us at home and they were lovely. They commented that she was bright but so tired and what a kind thing we were doing for her. It sure doesn’t feel that way right now. Because of the tumour she has had some trouble breathing. Normally when this has happened she just lifts her head, but because she’d been give the sedative she couldn’t lift her head, and her breathing was laboured and distressed. That broke my heart a little more.

I told her it was okay to go. That she could not possibly have been a more magnificent dog or a better friend. And that I loved her more than I had ever imagined. They increased the dose and her breathing settled, and then she was gone. That last few moments went by in an instant. I wanted to scream out stop, don’t do this, bring her back to me. Selfish I know, but oh for one last night falling asleep to the dulcet tones of her snores, feeling her warm little body rise and fall beside me.


I am empty. There is a big hole where my heart should be. There is no adequate way for words to express the impact Bella had on my life.

There is no good time to say goodbye to a love so strong. So instead I’ll say I’ll be seeing you my sweet love.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. ksbeth says:

    i’m sorry – it’s so hard

  2. Becky says:

    What beautiful memories you’ve shared. Hugs and love are not enough but know you have them.

  3. maggie0019 says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. 😦

  4. Gen says:

    This broke my heart. What a beautiful tribute to a very special soul. Sending you love and strength xx

  5. Emi says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. It’s so hard when you lose your fuzzy soulmate. I lost my Jadie girl last August… and it’s still hard. I miss her so. But you must know that they are still with us, always. And they leave their paws imprinted on our hearts, so as never to be forgotten. My heart goes out to you, friend. May your beautiful Bella rest in paradise along with my Jade. May they run and play like in their younger days until we can be with them once more. ❤🐾🌹🌈

  6. dogdaz says:

    What a wonderful life you provided for your sweet Bella. A young child once explained that dogs, unlike humans, come into the world already being love. They don’t have to look for it. We live long because we are always searching for it. They live short because they are love and only need to be here a short time. Freeing her spirit is a beautiful thing. Bless you and know she is at peace. – Lorian

    1. What a wonderful life she gave me ❤

    1. I would “like” this comment, but I can’t like anything to do with this sad business 😦 x

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