Monday, May 14, 2012

"Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance"

It was a rough day.

A couple of days ago, Ben startled Ivy while she was asleep.  Her reaction was to snap at him.  It's a completely normal dog reaction, one a lot of dogs have when startled awake.  Unfortunately, Ben and Ivy are at the same level and Ivy's snap got him in the face. 

Ben is completely fine, the skin wasn't really broken, just a mark where her teeth bonked him.  But even as I hugged him and kissed away the tears, I knew I  had to make a choice: be a terrible person and take my dog to the shelter, or be a terrible parent and let the dog stay in the house knowing that next time we might not be so lucky.

I didn't rush into the decision.  I talked to the vet.  I talked to the shelter.  I talked to family and friends.  I found that I had a lot of support in making the right decision.

Despite the fact that the right decision now hurts an awful lot.

Today I took Ivy to the Animal Shelter and said goodbye.  Most certainly one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  She's been my dog for seven years.  She was difficult, and was increasingly anxious as she got older, but I was determined to work through it with her.  I believe very strongly that you don't give up on someone just because they're struggling, and that was true for Ivy.  But in the end, there was nothing I could do.  There was no medication, no training, no prevention to keep her from being startled awake.  There was no guarantee that it wouldn't happen again.  And I know I could never live with myself if it happened again and the outcome was more serious.

So this morning I woke up with dread in my belly.  I got ready to go.  I spent some time with Ivy brushing her and putting on a brand new pink collar.  She licked away the tears on my face and didn't leave my side all morning.

We drove to the shelter, and I cried.  She sat on my lap in the parking lot while Ben napped.  I cried some more.  When Ben woke up I went in and made the arrangements.  I filled out the paper work, gave them as much information as I could.  I choked back tears and couldn't look the volunteer in the eye.

I put Ben in the car and brought Ivy in.  I said goodbye.  I kissed her, told her I loved her, told her I was sorry, and to be a good girl.

And I left.  And I cried.

The volunteer took one look at her when she walked in and said she was adorable, and wouldn't be there long.  I hope she's right.  She's a good girl, and she deserves a good home.

It will be rough for me for a bit, but I can handle it.  I'll miss her, but I have to hope that she will find a new home with someone to love her and work her through her anxiety and spend time enjoying her.

It was the right decision, but that doesn't make it any less painful.

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