Fireflies from Heaven

Gone But Never Forgotten

It’s been a few weeks since I had to say goodbye to my beloved Skittles. As anyone who has ever lost a furry family member will tell you, there are constant reminders that stab you in the heart. It was the main reason I donated all of her stuff to our vet as soon as I could. That ride home was heartbreaking, but I knew it had to be done. The first time I pulled into the garage and suddenly realized she wasn’t on the other side of the door, just about killed me. However, as time goes by, it does get a little easier. Until you get hit with another memory out of the blue. Then it hurts all over again.

It seems to me that the biggest problem is you want to tell everyone about your loss as fast as possible. That way you won’t be constantly reminded of your pain whenever someone sees you without your shadow. The other day, I had a double-dip of misery. First, it was a dog we had met on our walk a couple of times before. Another beagle named Bandit who looked so much like Skittles, I almost lost it right there on the sidewalk. I explained to his owner that we had to put Skittles to sleep, and her kind words just seemed to make it worse. Then, at the end of the street, I ran into an old friend. She asked where Skittles was and the wound ripped open again. As we talked about my puppy, it brought up memories of her beloved Trixie as well. Before long, we were both choking back the tears. Just brutal.

We said our goodbyes and I finished my walk. Twilight fell as I made my last turn home. Then I saw them. Fireflies. Hundreds of them. Last summer, I wrote a story called Firefly Trail. The walk that inspired that story was taken with my crazy dog. Since she was always in tune with how I felt, I’m sure she sent this beautiful message from Heaven, to let me know she was okay and missed me too. This article is dedicated to anyone who has lost a pet suddenly. Please know that it does get better, and that’s okay. Moving on is part of the grieving process. They will always be with you.

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A Sad Silence

Our Hearts Are Broken

I am writing today with a broken heart. Our beloved hound dog, Skittles, has passed away. It came on suddenly with a case of internal bleeding. After five short hours, we had to put her to sleep. She was only eleven years old and just the day before, I had taken her for a bike ride. She didn’t race around the block like a bat out of hell, but happily trotted alongside as we made our way around the neighborhood. Ironically, a dog trainer named Dawn had come by our house earlier on that dreadful evening, to break Skittles of some of her more annoying habits. However, after seeing her condition, she immediately recommended that we get her to the vet.

We arrived at Serenity Animal Hospital at around 7 pm. After some bloodwork, x-rays, and an ultrasound, Dr. Karen recommended we get her to emergency right away. It was the quietest ride we ever had with our crazy dog. Whenever I drove with her in the past, I always made sure I had earbuds to block out her beagle/basset hound cacophony. Now, it was just silence. I have heard that when animals know their time has come, they respond accordingly. I had to lift her into the car to take her to the emergency room, but when I tried to carry her down from the back seat, she backed away from me in terror. She knew.

After a discussion with the vet on duty, it was determined that there were only two courses of action. Exploratory surgery, or putting Skittles to sleep. Since the best result to be expected from the surgery was a diminished life-span and further medical treatments, we decided to put her down. It was agonizing. Thirteen years ago, we had to put our cat Jewel to sleep. However, she had been living a diminished, but happy life for two and a half years. When her time came, it was sad, but not unexpected. However, with Skittles I kept crying, “It’s not fair!” I had no idea what to do. Watching my companion, who had often journeyed out with me in subzero temperatures, shivering on the floor was just killing me. I prayed hard, and the only answer that kept coming back to me was my wife saying, “She’s in pain”. That did it. I held onto her and sobbed while she left this world.

Just before midnight, we left the emergency vet office, taking with us only her leash and collar. I was a complete wreck and it was a miracle we made it home without injury to the car, or ourselves. The next morning, not seeing her lying in the hallway outside our bedroom was another stab in the heart. A couple of days later, I collected all of her things to donate to Serenity. Skittles was never one for toys. Her spare time was always spent demanding attention from whoever was in the room with her. Bagging up her belongings, I came across the one toy she did play with from time to time. It’s a stuffed rabbit, and I have placed it in her chair across from my recliner.

If you read my article about her attitude issues, you know she wasn’t a well-behaved dog. However, I would gladly cut pieces of candy cane out of the carpet again, if it meant we would have her with us for just a few more years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. On ride home on the night she passed, my wife brought up a good point. Since Skittles was a rescue dog, we had given her a good life. I take solace in that thought, but I am still at a loss for what to do next. Once I’m done journaling and blogging for the day, our daily routine always began with a quick walk around our L-shaped block. This was followed by a treat hunt in the backyard, or indoors if the weather was crappy. I will take a walk this morning in her memory, and probably have another good cry in the process. Dear God, please take care of our crazy dog until we see her again. Amen.

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