I am putting my dog to sleep tomorrow.
Not the dog we have now, who guest posted a little while back, but Chloe, a dog I had before I moved to Brisbane and got married. She stayed behind on my parent's property, as a suburban backyard is no place for a Kelpie, especially when we would be out all day.
She is nearly 15 now, practically blind and almost completely deaf. She also suffered a series of strokes a while back, and the toll they have taken on her balance and mobility is now getting worse. All told, it's time - she is no longer comfortable, she's in pain a lot and it's not fair on her to prolong it any more.
So my head knows all this, but would someone please tell my heart?
Chloe was one of those truly good dogs you are lucky to know (amazingly, so is Scout, our current family dog). I got her from the Animal Welfare pound here on the Gold Coast, and from the minute she choose me, I was hooked. I truly believe the right dog for you will choose you, I was actually playing with some other puppies, non-working dog breeds like I wanted, when Chloe trotted straight up and sat herself in my lap. We were told at the time she was a Kelpie / German Shepard cross, but as she grew it was obvious she was a Kelpie/Staffy cross. She had the loyalty both breeds are famous for, as evidenced when we got her home. We put her out on the verandah, as we had never been a dogs-inside-the-house family. Chloe jumped the barricade, slipped her collar, squeezed through gaps and generally refused to accept that her place was anywhere other than at my feet. At the same time, she knew exactly who to charm to get this happening, she had my tough old Dad wrapped around her paw within a few hours.
Even as a puppy, she was desperate to please. She never chewed anything other than her toys, only ever dug one hole, and when she got yelled at for it, never did it again.
As I wasn't working at this time, Chloe spent nearly all her time with me, she was my shadow, and I could take her anywhere. If I walked into a shop or what have you, she would wait outside until I came out. We used to joke that I could go on holiday and she would wait outside the airport.
Unless you're a dog person, you won't understand, but I felt, and still feel, such a bond with her, she was a wonderful companion and a great listener. There's nothing like the feeling of knowing all she wanted was to be with you, to receive that unconditional love. I never like to compare animals to people, or refer to them as 'children', but I really felt like we were a team, she was a big part of my family.
Because she was a working dog, she had a lot of energy, and a very quick brain. Kelpies need a job to do, something to occupy them, so I took her to obedience and agility classes. She excelled at these, and became famous in the family for some of her tricks. My father has a very bad back, so he taught her (within a day) that whenever he dropped anything (a spoon, a lighter, etc.), she would dart in, pick it up and give it to him. She was obsessed with fetching a ball, it was her absolute favourite thing to do, but if I told her to stay put, you could bounce one right in front of her nose, and she'd ignore it. And even when she was playing fetch, if you said to her, "This is the last one", she would know the game was over and wouldn't chase it.
I would often take her to the beach with my friend M, who had young children. Chloe would spend endless hours gently herding the kids back to us, stopping them from running too far down the beach, and keeping them in front of where we sat with the baby.
She was terrified of our neighbours flock of geese, but when my sister was feeding them and they got quite aggressive, she ran over and threw herself into the flock, scattering them and getting a few nasty bites in the process no doubt.
Chloe has lived a life full of loyalty, love, fun and freedom, and I am already crying typing this, so I have no idea how I'm going to go tomorrow, but I know I have to be the one to be there with her, and thank her for all she's done for me. I wish I had a photo of her on my computer, or a scanner, as I'd love to show her to you. There's a great photo of her and I, taken on the morning of an obedience class, where she is looking straight at the photographer and I swear you can see her pure heart shining out of her eyes. I've been meaning to get a copy of it for ages and put it up, and I feel bad that it's taken having to say goodbye to her to get me around to it.
So, if you're the type, please say a quick prayer tomorrow morning, as the angels in doggy-heaven get their throwing arms ready.
Also , if anyone has any ideas on how to explain this to a three-year old, I would really appreciate any tips.