ForAbby
Tomorrow will mark one week since I've had to say goodbye to my best friend Abby. She was a beautiful 9 year old yellow lab and I miss her terribly.

I have never written in a forum before. I rarely comment or post online in general outside of social media. However, I've been reading the posts on the forum for quite some time and they have always made me feel less alone, so in this time of immense grief, I thought I would give posting on here a try.

9 years ago, I graduated from college and moved back into my parents home. During that summer, our family dog Kayle, who was a black lab, was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. After a few heartbreaking months, we made the decision to get another dog. That dog was Abby, and from the moment we had her she was incredible. At 10 weeks old, she didn't cry the first night we had her like our previous puppies had. She was somehow already housetrained. She loved being around us at all times and became my mother's constant companion. My mom took her everywhere...the bank, stores, anywhere she could. Abby became obsessed with car rides and sticking her head out of the sunroof (not the safest thing, but oh well). I lived at home for a few years, and I honestly think I put off moving into my own apartment for a while because I knew I would miss living with her.

After a few years, I moved into the city. I would bring her with me for sleepovers, but she honestly hated being there...she was used to my parent's large house and big backyard in the quiet suburbus. So, I would just make sure to visit often. A year ago, my husband and I moved to a nearby suburb, and we began taking Abby for weekend sleepovers as much as we could. My husband also had a black lab that he got in college, so we became a happy little weekend family of 4. 

I got married on August 19th of last year...a big part of our wedding was having our two dogs in the bridal party. I loved having them be with us on that special day and I am so glad we made the decision to do that...we got married in Northern Michigan on the lake, about 6 hours away from home, so deciding if we should put them through that drive and deal with hotel rooms was a tough call, but I'm so happy that we did it.

Shortly after my wedding, I began to get anxiety about Abby's age. She was 8 at the time, and I had lost my two previous dogs to illness...one was 4, and Kayle was 11. I still thought we had many years together, but I began to get nervous about her getting sick. So, I took her to the vet and had them do a thorough exam on her...she also had a lump that I had found while petting her which also made me extremely sick with worry. She ended up being in good health and the lump was a fatty tumor. I then took her back about 5 months after that for a different reason and it seemed like everything was great with her. 

In June of this year, I noticed that Abby was looking thin. I mentioned it to family members, but everyone attributed it to how incredibly active she was in the summer. About a week later, my husband stopped by my parent's house and called me to tell me that Abby was looking incredibly thin...much thinner than even a week ago. We made an appointment to get her checked out, and my husband ended up taking her in a few days later. That is when we learned that Abby has a very aggressive cancer that had already spread throughout her body. The vet told us she had a few weeks to a month to live. It was the most devastating news I had ever received and I immediately began grieving that day. I knew there was nothing we could do other than keep her comfortable and happy for the last few weeks. It was and still is the worst feeling.

The past few weeks have been incredibly hard for me. I watched my once 90lb lab wither away to about 60lbs. At the same time that the weight loss was noticed, her face began to swell under her left eye, which eventually became hard and deformed that side of her face. It was so sad. She was still beautiful until the end, despite all of this.

We canceled trips, outings, and anything else that was planned for the remainder of the summer. We wanted to spend as much time with her as we could. Her final weeks involved lots and lots of swimming, which was her very favorite thing to do. We went on short walks, as she continued to get weaker. 

Last weekend was my first anniversary. My husband and I had planned a weekend getaway months before. A few days leading up to the weekend, Abby began to have trouble keeping all food and water down. We knew that her time was coming to an end, canceled our trip, and spent the weekend with her. I couldn't get over the fact that just one year ago, Abby was running around cocktail hour at my wedding with flowers around her neck, and now I was getting ready to say goodbye to her. It still feels so unfair to me. 

With the help of medication, we were able to get her to eat again and keep food and water down. However, it became more and more obvious that she was in pain. Last Sunday morning, she began to cough, which was a new symptom. The strange thing is that when we would take her to my sister's pond a few blocks away (her favorite place), she would start to feel better. We took her there that day, and the coughing and panting stopped. I had the best last day with her, just sitting around the pond with her for hours. When I left to go to dinner with my husband, I was happy that the day seemed to turn around from that morning and that maybe she had a few more days left.

Things took a turn the next morning...my mom told me that Abby had trouble sleeping that night and seemed to be in a lot of pain. My mom has a very tough time with making the decision to put a dog to sleep (as does everyone I'm sure) and when she told me it was time I knew that it must have been. She originally asked me to make an appointment for the following day, but then let me know a few minutes later that Abby seemed to be suffering and that we might have to say goodbye that day.

I went to my sister's pond, where my family had brought Abby. We planned to have the vet come there in order to let her pass at her favorite place. Abby was weak but still got up to greet me, that one final time. I laid next to her for hours saying goodbye. She seemed tired and in pain. I think we possibly could have waited another day or two, but not much longer. I also think that had we waited, she would have suffered and it would have been a much more painful experience for everyone.

My mom could not handle being there when it was time to say goodbye. Abby had been sleeping heavily that day, at times we thought she possibly was already passing away slowly. After the vet gave her the sedative, she slowly moved her head to find me, and I held her face in my hands while kissing her and telling her I loved her over and over again. It was the saddest moment of my life, but I stayed strong for her. 

The grief that I feel is so strong. I took a few days off of work and returned to a busy schedule last Thursday. There are hours where I am distracted, but there are so many times where the sadness hits me and I become overwhelmed by it. Tonight is one of those times...I could not sleep so I decided to get up and write my very first post about the dog that I love so much. I miss her terribly. It makes me so upset to think I will not see her again. 

I apologize for the very long post.
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Rookiesmama
ForAbby,
Never think you have to apologize for a long post!! I'm glad you decided to post. I am so sorry about your loss. Your writing is amazing; I was able to see you and Abby at the pond ❤❤. I am so sorry your 1st Anniversary will forever be clouded with these memories, but I'm glad you got to spend that time with her. I absolutely love that you got to have sleepovers with her. What a special memory!!

Please be gentle on yourself. Going back to work keeps our mind off our loss, but I know even after 5 weeks, it still sometimes hits me hard. Thinking about you and Abby!!
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Sil
ForAbby,

First let me tell how sorry I am for your loss of Abby.  I was reading your story with tears in my eyes and could feel that love and special connection.  It is so sad that our fur family members acquire and suffer these terrible illnesses.  Abby was such an incredible courageous fur baby, she gave and received so much love.  Abby was as much part of your life as you were in hers...how lovely, that Abby was able to participate in one of the most important days of your life.  And, that you were brave enough, to show her how much you love her during her good bye.  I know and understand how much you are hurting.  Abby is now secured in you heart, there she will stay forever.  Again, I am sorry for your loss.  Sending you many hugs.
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ForAbby
Dear Sil and Rookiesmama,

Thank you so much for your kind responses. I saw them this morning while on the train to work and teared up. Since I've been at work so far, I've been very distracted, but now I have a short break and am thinking about Abby. I've always had a picture of her on my desk, and she's the background on my phone...aside from existing photos that I have framed, I still find it too hard to go through the many that I have saved on my computer. I'm hoping to print some in the next week or so...for now, I just miss her too much when I look through them. While I'm happy that I took lots of pictures during her last few weeks, it is also so hard to see how much her body changed in such a short amount of time. 

Yes, it is very sad that I'll probably always associate my wedding anniversary with her death...however I also try to think of it as a special, once in a lifetime occasion that she was a huge part of. I hope that over time I'll see it as a happier event vs. having it be such a hard time.

I can't believe how strong the pain is and how it can completely take over, at random. It's helpful to have another dog at home, but it also makes me realize just how much I miss Abby's exact personality. She was so easygoing, full of energy, and loyal. I could take her anywhere and never had to worry about her getting along with other dogs, kids, etc. She also never ran away...you could literally walk her for miles without a lease and she wouldn't stray too far.

One thing that I struggle with a lot is that I thought I had more time with her. I know that 9 isn't young for a lab, but my family currently has many older dogs in it. My sister has two pit bull mixes that are 11 and 13, my brother has a 13 year old hound as well. Our dog at home is turning 11 this winter. All have aged well and seem to be in great health. It was so shocking that out of this bunch, we had to say goodbye to Abby first. I feel cheated in a way, like I did not get the time with her that she and I both deserved. She was also the glue that held our little pack together, since many of the dogs did not get along but they all loved her. We are going out of town for Labor Day this weekend, and my mom is watching our dog Gracie. It breaks my heart imagining Gracie running through my parent's house looking for Abby, which I know will happen. Abby was Gracie's best friend as well. 

Sometimes I wish I could wake up months from now and be farther in the grief process...it is just so hard to go through. While I have figured out what things make me feel less alone (reading these threads, talking to a counselor, etc.) there is nothing that truly makes me feel better, ever. I just want her back. I try to look out for signs from her...yesterday, we saw a few baby deer running through a field, and I like to think that was from her. We always joked how she looked like a deer sometimes...she was very tall, lanky, and her fur was a mix of the prettiest shades of white/yellow. I hope that was a sign from her and I hope I continue to receive them. 
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Rookiesmama
ForAbby,
I completely understand feeling cheated over the loss of time. My Rookie passed away 3 days after his 9th birthday, and as his third owner, I only had him for 7 years. My neighbor keeps his dog outside at all hours and I hear it crying/ barking and it makes me mad it is unloved when Rookie is gone and I have so much love left to give.

Those deer were definitely a sign!! ❤
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MAlcindor
ForAbby, I am so sorry for the loss of your Abby. Losing them is never easy and I know what you mean by feeling cheated. Both my babies were taken too soon from me and it is difficult for me to understand why. Time does dull the pain a little but it never goes away. There will be days when thinking of them will make me smile and still others where I can't help but break down in tears. I think it is so wonderful you had Abby be part of your wedding, a true testament to what she meant to you. I'm so glad you decided to write about her and when you are ready I would love to see a picture of her. And the deer, I think it was a sign from Abby.
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Randy1412
It's was August 19th I lost my little girl trinity. I miss her so much.
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ForAbby
I ended up going through some photos tonight, and it brought me joy to remember how silly she was and how healthy she looked not too long ago. Below is one of my favorites from my wedding:

IMG_0499.jpg   


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ForAbby
IMG_0363.jpg 
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ForAbby
Randy1412, I am so sorry for your loss. It really is so hard to go through.

MAlcindor, thanks so much for your response. I shared a few photos of my sweet girl.
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Rookiesmama
ForAbby, she's beautiful!! Thanks for sharing her with us.
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ForAbby
Has anyone tried a grief counselor or support groups? Have they been helpful?

I've found that I manage to get through my days ok, only because my work is so busy and I am always around other people so I do have to power through my pain. The evenings are incredibly tough for me. That is when I think of Abby the most and I've cried every single night so far. 
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awwwcasey_girl
For Abby: Your beautiful spirit has changed your mama and family. May you forever visit your mamas heart when she needs you. 

I recently lost my Casey just 2 months shy of her 14 year birthday. She was a Malshi  bundle of love and old soul energy.

I read your post and cried all the way thru it as it is still so fresh for me as well.

I identify so much with your recognition that we only get so many years and the anticipation of their end of their life is so anxiety provoking. I was in that mode for almost a year wondering what to expect and feeling very clingy.

We had about 2 weeks notice with our girl. She was pooping funny yet full of energy and eating well. When the vet told me she had a large, hard mass pressing on her intestines I knew. We did the biopsy a week later but I already knew I wouldn't put her thru a needless surgery. Within that week she had serious trouble pooping..trying and trying with no results. She was so confused. 
I took her everywhere she loved...we played and held her and I cried and CRIED knowing how much we had built our lives around her. She went everywhere with us from 10 weeks on. Sailing, camping, Rv's and to work with us. 

Our girl was terrified of the vet's office so we gave her some Sileo at home (an oral mucosal gel for her thunder fears) and she fell asleep on my husbands lap..and then we took her to the vet for her shot. I wanted to be so stoic for my girl that I couldn't "be there"'. I was like outside of myself orchestrating the details for her..and couldn't cry. I am sobbing right now remembering how "logistical" I became. I couldn't cope any other way I guess. 

One of the worst parts is whether or not we made the decision even one day too soon. We knew we had to be out of the state for 5 days for a court date and we absolutely couldn't take her inside the building so we elected to do it a week before. We went thru Fathers Day knowing it was going to be the last and my husbands birthday was 4 days later..we had to do it in between...so now my husbands birthday and Father's Day are forever tainted. 

I had a friend advise us to create an alter with her toys and pictures. We also took pictures with her in my husbands arms as she passed. Sounded morbid to some but we actually love them. I also bought a pet photo album to fill with her pictures. When I was at Walgreens printing them..I just sobbed and sobbed. It was so hard to sort them and whittle them down for the book. Now, every morning I express to "her shrine" how very grateful I still am that she was a part of my life! I slept with her favorite toy for 6 weeks. 

Friends all suggested a puppy as soon as possible. It seemed unreasonable at first but we we did 'get a new puppy. Libby actually looks almost exactly like Casey with so many similarities that we catch ourselves thinking she has a good bit of Casey in her...and she does. I believe with all my heart that we are supposed to share ourselves with another dog..and I have no regrets. I was approaching a serious depression with my grief and although Libby isn't a replacement she certainly is a loving distraction..in a good way.

I wish the very best as you grieve..my heart grieves with yours. 
Thank you for sharing..you have no idea how much you impacted me with Abby's story.







susan
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ForAbby
Hi Susan,

Thank you for your response and for the lovely picture of Casey - what a cutie! I love when dogs tear into wrapping paper like that. One of my favorite memories of Abby is last Christmas, when my husband and I had our very first Christmas morning in our new home with just Abby and Gracie. We drank mimosas in front of our fire place and watched the two dogs open their gifts and it was so fun. I was looking forward to it being a new tradition, though sadly that would have been the only one with Abby :( 

It sounds like you have Casey not only an amazing life but the best last weeks. She was so lucky to have you.

Logistical is a good way to describe how you have to be on that final day....I remember making the phone calls, answering all of the basic questions, setting up a time, etc. It really is the worst. I also remember the vet (who was actually wonderful) showing me urn options as I was sitting next to Abby before the procedure and that part was very terrible. 

I hope that with time, your husbands birthday and Father's Day will not be tainted by that sad day, just as I hope my wedding anniversary will not be. I like your idea about the altar, hopefully once I can get through all of Abby's pictures without getting so sad I will create the same thing for her. I do think I will eventually have a book printed for my mother and I. I also ordered a few memorial garden stones from Etsy, which I will put in my yard and my parent's in memory of Abby.

I'm happy to hear that you got a new puppy - my mom is adamant about not getting another dog ever again but I really hope she will change her mind one day. 

P






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