Goodbye Cassie, my beloved dog

1 Feb

Cassie the Peekapoo

(March 24, 1999 – January 31, 2012)

I’ve spent the past few minutes updating my online biographies—changing them to reflect that I no longer have two dogs, just one.  I don’t know why this seems so necessary, why I had to move her bed out of my room, asked BFF Sarah to change our four dog bowls to two, or why her favorite toy, Stinky Dog, has been carefully tucked away.  The memory of my beloved dog, Cassie, hangs over my apartment like a thick fog enveloping us all, but me most of all.

It’s been less than 24 hours…and I feel like I’m going through all the stages of grief simultaneously.  Fear, anger, denial, bargaining, and acceptance over and over and over again.  When I woke up yesterday morning, I didn’t think that Tuesday, January 31, 2012 would be the day my dog died.  She was coughing and hacking like she usually does, but it was worse, much more guttural.  As I tried to focus on my daily devotions, I could hear her gasping for breath.  I started crying because I could hear her distress, so I called the vet to make an appointment.  Then I called my mom and asked her to accompany me; I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

Cassie’s horrible coughing echoed through the waiting room.  Apparently, she could be heard all over the clinic.  An examination, x-rays, and a decision—what did I want to do?  The vet gave me some steroids that could help her breath more easily, but they wouldn’t make the large mass in her abdomen/stomach area go away.   When we got back home, I took her on a walk.  Her tail was between her legs, she looked at me for help, for relief, and I knew this was to be our last walk together on a strangely warm, pleasantly golden winter afternoon.

I called the vet and said I didn’t want to make her wait, didn’t want her to suffer anymore.  I wanted to do it tonight, after BFF Sarah came home from work and said goodbye to Cassie.   After BFF Sarah got home, we all sat on the couch—my mom, BFF Sarah, and I—listening to her labored breathing in the silence.  It was deafening.  I called the vet’s office again to see if we could move it up.

I carried my precious dog to my mom’s car, telling her that I loved her all the way to the office.  When we arrived, I held her close and kissed her head letting her know that she was the best dog in the world.  I told her not to be scared, that I would be OK, and that she would soon be out of pain.  The vet came in and I handed Cassie to my mom.  I pulled my sweater hood over my hand and put my fingers in my ears.  I didn’t want to know any of it, see any of it, remember any of it.  I just wanted her to feel my presence in the room.

 Then she was gone. 

I sat in the “doggie death” room staring helplessly at all the books with titles like “Pawprints in Heaven” and wondered if Cassie was running towards my grandparents, if my Poppy would throw Stinky Dog for her like he used to, if my Grammy would feed her from the table when she thought no one was looking.  I wasn’t sure about the theological correctness of it all.  Yet I beleive she is running and jumping and playing and begging for food like she was meant to, not like how she lived on this fallen planet.  As Randy Alcorn says in his book, Heaven, why would God withhold our dearly loved pets from us for all eternity?  When everything sad comes untrue, everything sad, I want to be reunited with my pedigree mutt.

Before I left the “doggie death” room I uttered a prayer.  I thanked God for entrusting Cassie to me for almost 13 years.  I praised Him for my dearly loved companion, that she lived and died well.  I told Him that I was grateful that death will not always have this sting, that our broken world will be redeemed.  I asked God to hold my heart, as I could feel it falling to pieces from the big hole her absence has left.

Then I went home and cried.  Now I go through cycles of overwhelming emotion.  I calm down and then cry, sob, bawl, wail, scream, wretch, and write.  Or hold a very confused Maddy the Shih Tzu with trembling arms. After that, I lose it.  Distract myself, then cry.  I imagine the next few days will be the same.  Distract, cry, distract, cry.  I know God is with me and that Cassie is with Him.  This wound will heal, and maybe my one dog family will become a two dog family again.

But not today.

Today I miss everything about her—the way she barked at nothing, how she demanded to have her food dish refilled, the way her and Maddy playfully zipped around the apartment chasing one another, and the empty little spot by my door where Cassie would lie while I typed.  Perhaps this is where I feel her loss most deeply, our special alone time when I would write and she would watch over me, in between her naps.  During these times, Maddy the Shih Tzu patrols the living room, so it was just Cassie and me, canine and mistress, just as in the days before Maddy came to live with us.  And though Maddy is here and BFF Sarah is home today and I hear Kylie the Cockatiel chirping, I feel alone without my writing buddy.

I miss her so much, loved her so much, cherished my beautiful little dog.  Distract, then cry.  Excuse me while I grab the tissues.  It’s crying time again.

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13 Responses to “Goodbye Cassie, my beloved dog”

  1. Valerie February 1, 2012 at 12:53 PM #

    I’m so sorry Amy.. 😦

  2. ncjeepster February 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM #

    I so know how you feel, we lost our Daisy (Beagle) to a large mass in her abdomen. She was a human to us. Took her everywhere and included her in everything we did. When she stopped eating even hamburger, we took her to the vet. They found the mass and gave us medicine and explained how her heart would probably stop. The next day we had to shake her so hard and could not feel a heartbeat, but then she got up. I like you couldn’t bear it so I took her to the Vet and they agreed so we gave her the shot. They kept saying you are being a good Mommy to not let her suffer. It’s been 2 years and I still long for her, but it’s easier now. We want to get another dog, but still not quite ready yet. I will keep you in my heart and prayers. You were a good Mommy too, to not let her suffer any more than she did. She’s with you and will always be with you till you meet again in Heaven.

  3. Katie February 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM #

    What a beautiful tribute to Cassie. She left this world one very loved dog. You cared so deeply for her that I know this will hurt for a long time. I weep with you today, as I knwo the loss of a pet hurts very, very deeply. i pray that Marley, Latte and Midnight were there to welcome her home.

  4. bethkvogt February 1, 2012 at 2:56 PM #

    Well, shoot.
    I am so, so sorry.
    And I understand because we are waiting to make this same decision with our 11 1/2 year old Lab, Midas. And I’m crying already …

    Shoot.

    I am so, so sorry.

    Really.

  5. Melissa Brown February 1, 2012 at 4:22 PM #

    I was crying reading this. Cassie is missed.

  6. Jessica Bronder February 1, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cassie. It’s so hard to lose a furry child, I lost my baby several years ago and it was the worst thing in the world. You are in my prayers. Cassie is in Heaven in the Lords arms looking down on you.

    Now, I’m sorry to be short, but I have to go hug a couple of my cats and use a box of tissues.

  7. Evangeline Denmark February 1, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Oh, Amy. Crying with you.

  8. Geneva Swiss February 1, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

    I’m so sad for you…it’s so strange how, in grieving, memories are both comforting AND tormenting. I also feel like I’ve been in a constant distract/cry cycle for many moons, and I don’t know if it’s weird to say, but reading your goodbye is an encouragement to me–that you’re aiming to focus on thanks for your relationship with Cassie and hope for the future end of suffering even while you’re overwhelmed with grief and heartache. My thoughts are with you.

  9. Marianne February 1, 2012 at 10:26 PM #

    Thinking of you tonight, and praying for you to have comfort.

  10. Amy February 1, 2012 at 11:06 PM #

    Hey everyone. Thank you for your sentiments. I really appreciate knowing I’m not alone, though I’m also saddened for all your losses as well.

    I’m not sure what kind of writing is going to be produced in the next few weeks, but I’m not crying every hour anymore. I know I will get through this; I know my Grammy will probably sneak Cassie table scraps at the Great Feast with GOD watching!!! I know it will be OK, that everything sad WILL come untrue (LOTR quote & a Jason Gray album title). I thank God for the hope I have in Him because mourning will last for a little while (though it feels like forever) and He will use it for His glory…somehow, some way. It just makes me sad that our pets have to suffer the effects of the Fall…but it WILL come untrue. Praise God.

    It’s the “right now” that’s difficult, y’know? Talking about her in present and past tenses, finding it difficult to say her name (because I don’t want Maddy to hear. Trying to rationally explain the situation to her didn’t work), even when I’m typing. And I hate seeing Maddy look for Cassie, smelling around as if she’s thinking, “She was here. I can smell her.” She’s never been on her own before and was overly overjoyed when Sarah and I came back from running a few errands earlier.

    I keep thinking about how Cassie’s death is the hardest death I’ve experienced, including that of my maternal grandparents, to whom I was very close. The phrase “ever by my side” keeps coming to mind. I don’t know if I read it in a book or where it originated, but that’s how I would characterize a dog’s relationship with his/her human–“ever by my side.” How does one categorize “ever by my side”? I’ve no idea, but the loss of it is something terribly wretched.

    Yet everything sad will come untrue–this is the hope I have, what keeps me going, and lets me know that, yes, I will be OK.

  11. Penny J. Leisch February 2, 2012 at 2:43 PM #

    I feel so bad for you. I posted this link on your FB page, but it might help others here too. These folks are wonderful. http://aplb.org/index.html and helped tremendously. If anyone feels like visiting my blog or forums to talk, my blog and website is all about the changes we go through. As an animal rescue person, I feel it in so many ways. It’s one thing to read about compassion fatigue, but it’s very different to experience it. My heart is with you.

  12. Ben DeVries February 9, 2012 at 11:14 PM #

    This is beautiful, Amy, and once again I’m very sorry that you experienced this – Ben

  13. Darlene March 28, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

    I am very late to this Amy. My blog reading has fallen by the wayside due to health. I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I know how it feels to lose your beloved pet and my heart goes out to you. Hugs.

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