The road to hell started a few weeks back when I noticed that Maggie was producing a croaking sound, especially after she exercised and ate. At first, I was not unduly concerned. Bulldogs are known for making noises from all their orifices. The alarm bells went off when she lost her appetite. The first visit to the veterinary and a blood test showed an increase in white blood cells. More tests pointed to a problem with one of the kidneys. Antibiotics were prescribed but failed to bring down the white blood cell count. The vet suggested a second round of more exhaustive tests. These examinations produced the worst possible prognosis. Maggie had an aggressive metastatic cancer which had already spread to the lungs and probably elsewhere. There was nothing that could be done except palliative care.
Maggie was seven years old. During those seven years, she became an integral part of our life. At home, she was always by my side. I cannot say she was special because all dogs are special, but she meant the world to me and to everyone at home. And I was her world.
And yet, I was, being asked to become her judge and jury: to decide when she should die.
I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t happening. That she had a bad case of flu and that she would shake it off.
I blamed myself for not noticing the signs earlier, even though the vet told me this kind of cancer could only be spotted when it was too late.
I looked at her and wanted her to tell me she was okay, that she would soon be back to her usual playful self.
Her breathing was becoming increasingly laboured, and her walking fatigued. She still cuddled and demanded attention. But the fire in her eyes was spent.
I didn’t want her to suffer. Not for one day, not even for one minute and see her gasping for air pained me. I made the call. I stayed with her till her heart stopped beating. By that time, I had no more tears left in me. I was broken.
I still am.
Sorry is not the hardest word, after all. Goodbye hurts much more.