I dreamed of a covered wooden bridge this weekend.
Shep was on the other side with his big goofy smile and his tail wagging. He stood in front of mountains, blooming with alpine flowers.
Neither one of us could cross the bridge for one last hug.
But he let me know he was happy, healthy and free.
It was the only thing I could do.
My baby was suffering and only I could make the decision to free him from his pain. He had an enlarged heart and his kidneys had failed him.
No matter how many times I told myself I was preparing for this moment, there’s no way I could ever be ready.
One last road trip
When I knew what I had to do, I threw a bag of clothes together, found Shep sleeping in the backyard and yelled, “ROAD TRIP!”
As if he was six years old again, he jumped up, smiled and made his way to the truck.
But getting in was harder, even with his ramp. Because he had stopped eating, his body was eating away at his muscles for energy.
My heart was breaking even then.
We made our way for Spokane, just so we could spent a few more short moments together as a family. With Our American, we were the three best friends that anyone could have.
He maintained his usual position for a while, panting and drooling over my shoulder. His body quickly got tired, though. He may even have had a seizure somewhere around Coulee, Wash.
Somehow, however, he willed himself to make it to Spokane. He started failing quickly, though, and we rushed him to the vet clinic where we said our final goodbyes.
Down memory lane
Our American doesn’t like hearing about the details. It forces him to relive the final moments — those very painful, agonizing final moments when it felt like our hearts were being torn out of our bodies.
It feels like part of the healing process for me, knowing I did what I had to do for Shep to find peace from his ravaged body.
Of course, we both prefer to remember him in his livelier days.
Me? I’ll never forget the day I traded in my (beautiful) Mustang and brought home Our Great Escape.
After two years of being together, our bond started to solidify and I knew my lifestyle had to change.
We had mountains to climb.
And losing him is the most broken-hearted I’ve ever been.
Future road trips
It’s been five days.
Some hours are easier than others. Maybe one day soon those good hours will stretch into days, and then into weeks.
For now, however, there’s a painful emptiness.
I feel less safe.
The drive back to Kelowna was awful, not seeing my beautiful boy in the rearview and knowing I never would again. Our American was a safe distance behind me, joining me in B.C. for a while to adjust to this new part of the journey.
We have investigated Maremma breeders and the timing of their litters.
We are unsure how quickly we should or could bring a new puppy into our lives. We don’t know the answer to the question “how soon is too soon.”
We know we have tons of love to give to a new puppy.
And we guarantee he or she will not be replacing Shep.
Because there is no replacing Shep.
He was one of a kind.
And road trips will never be the same again.
Nor will life.