It goes without saying that the longer you live in a community the more experiences, good and bad, you go through and the more tied to that community you become.
This week we had to have our dog put down. The animal lovers out there know that our pets are members of our family and this was a very emotional experience.
For a little back story, this April our dog Shane would have turned 16. I have had him since 1997, coincidentally that’s the same year I met my husband. After a rough patch in high school, my mom, who was always a non-pet person, gave in and surprised me with a dog. And he was my buddy.
Although Shane stayed with my parents when I went off to college, several years later when my husband and I got married he came with us. He was with us when we moved to our first house, when we had our two girls and when we moved out of state to Lee’s Summit.
He was always the best traveler when we made the long eight-hour drive from Lee’s Summit to Chicago, just curling up in a ball and sleeping the majority of the time. And although he didn’t score nearly as much of the attention after our kids were born, he was already 12 years old and I don’t think he minded too much. In fact, I think he may have preferred peace and quiet at that point.
I thought we were more prepared for his passing, but what I’ve found is that you can never fully prepare for these things. So when the time came it still wasn’t the easiest decision.
The day after my husband’s birthday we woke up and could tell Shane wasn’t doing well. My husband headed to the Lee’s Summit Animal Hospital to see Dr. Voris. This is the only part of the experience that made things a little easier. The staff was wonderful. Dr. Voris answered all of our questions, he gave us our options and he gave us the information that we needed to make it ok to make that difficult decision.
As a side note, a few months back we saw Dr. Voris when we were out to lunch. We haven’t lived here that long so you can imagine that we’ve only been to the vet’s office a handful of times. Not only did he say hi, but he asked about Shane by name and clearly remembered him. Granted, Shane had just recently been in his office, but I was still impressed.
His passing was peaceful and the vet was wonderful, but at the end of the day it was still a tough time. It’s the little moments that catch me by surprise, like when my daughters drop crumbs of food on the floor and I’m waiting for Shane to come scoop them up, or when I’m going upstairs for the night and I forget and go to the door to let him out one last time.
And when I have to explain again to my girls where Shane is and why his water bowl or dog bed aren’t where they’ve always been, it sort of feels like a punch in the gut. The house feels a little emptier and although the last few years he slept much of the time and he was pretty quiet, his absence is deafening.
I realize some people will think this is a trivial experience and I realize in the grand scheme of things it could be much, much worse. But I do miss my little friend and he’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Debbie Carroll was born and raised in Chicago and recently relocated to Lee’s Summit. After spending many years in the fields of marketing, communications and education, she is currently at home with her two young daughters.