My dogs are my kids and I would do anything for them. That’s why when my eleven-year-old lab/golden retriever, Hayley, was diagnosed with cancer, I told her we’d fight it together. I also made the promise to her that when it was time to stop fighting, I would help her cross the rainbow bridge.
The day we had to say goodbye came much too soon. I remember some details as clear as day, yet others seem like such a blur. The tiresome treatments were taking a toll on Hayley and the fight turned into a struggle. It was time for my girl to stop suffering. We cuddled all morning, and I called Binford Pet Wellness Clinic to see what time I could bring her in.
The vet tech that answered the phone was so compassionate. She let me know they would be ready for our arrival whenever we came in that day. When my husband and I got to the front door, we were carrying Hayley in our arms. The staff was there to meet and help us. We were ushered into a room right away. Dr. Campbell came in and treated us as if we were her family, including Hayley. She told us to take as long as we would need and explained the process. They offered to trim a piece of her hair for us as a keepsake. Dr. Campbell told us we could stay with Hayley, or she would stay, it was our choice. We stayed with our little girl. They shaved a small spot on her arm for the injection and explained every step of what was going to happen, even as it was happening. She explained that her eyes would stay open and her tongue might stick out – all normal. And, once the drugs had been delivered she listened to Hayley’s heartbeat until it was no longer there and quietly whispered to us that she was gone. We were given all the time with her we wanted, before and after, and they were very sensitive to not push us to do anything until we were ready. It was one of the hardest moments of my life, but after all the love she had given us, I knew I had to be with her until the end.
We were treated with such respect and love during one of the hardest days of our lives and the days following. We were sent a hand-written card and the staff called to check in on us. A few days after, we even received a singled red rose from Pet Wellness Clinics with a sweet note. I’ve lost babies before and never have I received such care and consideration as I did then. At the time, I was so overwhelmed with grief, but it felt nice to have our baby remembered. She not only had an impact on us, but everyone around her.
I’m not going to lie. My days haven’t gotten any easier. I still think I see and hear Hayley around the house. I don’t know when I will stop hurting so much, however, to know she is no longer sick and was treated with the utmost respect until her time had to end, brings me some comfort.
The hardest part about owning a dog is that we go into it knowing our time with them will never be enough. I’m thankful that every minute I spent with Hayley was filled with love, up until the last.