My dear little Sweet Pea left us on March 9, 2014. Over the past 14 years, Sweet Pea, or Boo as she was known around the house, brought so much joy and love into my life. She was intelligent, loving, tenacious, and delightfully stubborn. So stubborn, in fact, that, as you know, she refused to let an aggressive cancer get the best of her for three long years.

When I first received her diagnosis, I was devastated. I scoured the internet for cures and support groups and shed so many tears at the thought of something taking her life before her time. I frequently wondered "why" and it was--and still is--extremely difficult to stomach the fact that something so bad could happen to something so good. I still remember coming home from the doctor's office after the ultrasound revealed the tumor, shaking and crying, believing that Sweet Pea was just given a death sentence.

Gradually, through time and tears, I came to accept her diagnosis.

I cannot even begin to express to you how thankful I am that treatment helped keep her with me for an additional three years. My only regret is that Boo could not be the carefree and playful little girl without cancer forever. The Boo who would run up to her leashes hanging on the wall, pull one down and bring it to me when she wanted to go on a walk. The Boo who would chase birds on the beach and freak out if the ocean water touched her paws. The Boo who would somehow finagle mussels off of the docks of our house in California, and toss them on the cement in my backyard until they cracked enough for her to pry them open to eat the meat inside.

Sweet Pea traveled the country with me, from Walt Disney World to Alaska. She saw me through college and law school, through cross-country moves and through my first "real" job. She saw me through heartbreak and love. She was there when I bought my first home and she walked down the aisle at my wedding. She met my children, and was as exhausted and overwhelmed as we were after our first night at home with a newborn. I still remember the look of exasperation on her face the next morning, as if she were asking "what did you do to us?" and "can you take it back to where it came from?" She is a part of every significant memory of mine for the last 14 years.

When she was diagnosed in June 2012, I was six months pregnant with my first child. My only wish at the time was that she would live long enough to meet my first born. With chemo and meds and prayers, not only did that happen she was also around long enough to meet my second child. That was the greatest gift I could have ever asked for and I cannot tell you how much that means to me.

Despite so many doses of chemo, countless pills and concoctions, Sweet Pea remained a pillar of strength. She was courageous and determined--even when I couldn't be. Over the years, I saw cancer take its toll. Her once bright and expressive brown eyes clouded over with a milky white haze. Her once stout, stalky frame became thin and frail. For the first time, I worried about her not eating enough, rather than too much as was always the problem in the past. She started to have difficulty getting up and walking, her legs appearing to give out on her. She started to suffer from incontinence. At first, she would just have accidents in the house, then, she wouldn't even get up to use the bathroom. In the end, she was a shadow of her former self--the cancer won, just as I knew it one day would.

To this moment, I can't help but question whether I made the right call, whether I should have been able to decide if she should live, whether anyone should be able to make that determination for someone else. She had not eaten for 5 days, could not stop vomiting despite the nausea medication, was shaking constantly, could barely walk, and didn't get up when she had to go to the bathroom. I syringe-fed her pedalyte, which she could hardly keep down, and sat with her as she slept between bouts of sickness. I called Dr. Rose Sunday night, fearing the worst for the next day. I couldn't let her starve to death, but couldn't fathom the thought of hospitalizing her in that state, fearing that she would pass without me by her side, or putting her on a feeding tube--the likely solution. In the end, I felt I had to consider what was best for her, not best for me, which I hope I did. She left us peacefully in my arms, surrounded by her favorite toys and wrapped snugly in her favorite blanket. I take some comfort in the fact that I felt her leave and, at that moment, a sudden stillness, a sense of calm, came over me. The world stopped, if not for a moment, to pay tribute to this little life who gave so much.

I am simultaneously heartbroken and grateful for the time I shared with her. Although it seems impossible now, I know that gradually, through time and tears, I will come to accept her death.
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Hi Marion,
That was a beautiful tribute to your Boo. She is a sweet little girl. Your love for her shines through your words.  She was a very lucky little girl to have you as her mom and you were, as you know, a very lucky mom.

I know the heartache that you are feeling now as the grief overwhelms you, but I also know the deep gratitude that you feel.  When times are tough for me, after saying my saddest goodbye to my gorgeous beagle, Bella, nearly 12 months ago after she fought so bravely against a brain tumour and then kidney disease, I remind myself how grateful I am for the wonderful time I had.  This grief is the price we pay for all the love, loyalty and laughter that we shared with them....and it is a price worth paying.  We would not give up one second of the time we had, even if it meant we could take away this pain.

I think that questioning your decision is a normal part of the grieving process.  Most of us on this forum have spoken about the questioning, the doubts, the guilt that we feel, regardless of the circumstances that led to our furbabies leaving us.  I too, made the decision to let my baby go.  I now describe it as the easiest AND the hardest decision I have ever had to make.  The easiest because I did not ever want to knowingly let Bella suffer, and the hardest for obvious reasons....I wanted her with me forever!  When my family and I were in the room as Bella closed her eyes for the last time, I too felt at peace.  I knew that my girl was now on her way to Paradise, never to suffer again.  It was later when the reality of not having her with me hit, that I doubted my decision.  Did I act too hastily?  Did we try all possible avenues to help her? etc. etc. etc.  I nearly drove myself mad with the questioning.  Eventually I was able to let the guilt and the doubts go.  Now I am proud of myself for being able to let her go when she needed to go.  She was tired of the fight and I couldn't ask her to keep fighting just for me.  She gave me so much in her 9 1/2 years and I was so grateful. You should be proud of yourself too.  You ignored your own desire to keep holding on and focussed only on Boo's needs.  That is the greatest gift of love we can give our dear companions.

I wish you peace and healing.  I hope that your wonderful memories of Boo will soon bring you more smiles than tears.  I am sending you thoughts of comfort and sending our angels, Boo and Bella, hugs and kisses and wishes for the happiness that they deserve.
(Bella, Charli and Buddy's very lucky mum)

My gorgeous girl, Bella  26/07/2004 - 03/04/2014
"You were once by our side, but you will be forever in our hearts. Until we meet again baby girl."
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Marion, I am sorry for your loss of Sweet Pea. She looks like she is such a sweetheart and I know you are missing her terribly. I can so understand the pain you are going through. Sweet Pea was with you during all of the major moments of your life. Like most people here, I have spent days fretting over the "what ifs," What if I had gotten Cali to the vet sooner? What if the vet had operated on Saturday instead if Sunday? What if we ended her life too early? I think people spend a lot of time beating themselves up with guilt and self doubt. Our babies know we did the best we could for them. It seems that it is getting easier at this point..not easy but more like more time between the pain and tears. Its still hard but it seems as there is more calmness now and not that smothering panicky feeling that was almost paralyzing. I hope your heart begins to heal soon.
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