It was the longest drive.
It was only about 30 minutes.
She had no idea what was in store for her.
Going to the vet was not remotely new for Maggie. She had been plagued with a series of problems from her earliest days: urinary tract infections, torn toe nails and foot pads, a cut on her ear from a grooming incident gone wrong and so on…
In a rare moment of forethought, we had purchased insurance for her from day one. It saved us. A UTI is $300 on average, with lab work and antibiotics. That is if you don’t have to go on a Sunday and pay emergency fees too.
Ironically enough for a dog that was scared of thunder, amongst other things she would get hyper excited about, she wasn’t scared of going to the vet.
Probably because of the treats she would always get at the end of a visit.
Also probably because most visits ended happily.
This visit would not end happily, but she wasn’t to know that.
Last year, I wrote about how much I loved and hated Maggie. Mostly because of her incurable habit of eating poo and my unwillingness to have her playing with or even near our three year old daughter.
The need to keep them separated most of the time wasn’t a big deal when Nikki wasn’t mobile and tossing her toys everywhere. When she started walking, we realized that baby gates were going to be a two-way deal: keeping Nikki in the room with us, and Maggie out.
Last weekend, we made the decision to put Maggie down. We’ve been through all that angst before. We had to put down our cat Fidget in January 2011.
This time was different though. Fidget was really sick.
She was suffering and wasting away despite our feeding her wet food with a syringe and giving her mountains of medication. Suffering a lot.
Maggie wasn’t suffering as much, at least not in the way that we tend to think of suffering. She was eating, walking, sleeping and so on.
But that was the sum total of her life. Her seizures were increasing in intensity and frequency. After each one, she seemed a little older and a little more worse for wear. It wasn’t the dramatic decline we saw with Fidget but it was visible to the vet and to others who saw Maggie less frequently.
The weight loss.
The fur loss.
Because of the poo eating, following our move to a smaller house, Maggie was relegated to her basement sleeping area for more hours per day than I would care to admit. I just couldn’t have our three year old getting sick because she happened to drink out of a sippy cup that Maggie had licked in passing.
So when things got a lot worse very suddenly, we decided that enough was enough. Maggie’s quality of life just wasn’t what it had been and while we could maintain her life through medications for a while longer, it wasn’t a life. It wasn’t living.
It was the right decision.
It was nonetheless the hardest decision we have ever made.
Fidget was easier – she was visibly suffering. Maggie’s suffering was more of a quiet despair.
I couldn’t watch it all happen, as I had with Fidget. So Tom agreed to go in with her, while I sat in the car with Nikki. Before they walked in to the vet’s office, I got out of the car to say good bye. Maggie ran towards me, dragging Tom behind her.
So oblivious to what was about to happen. Ignorance is bliss, in this case.
I kissed her head and told her that I loved her, all the while feeling like a complete traitor.
After it was all over, I went in one last time while Tom stayed with the kiddo and said a final good bye. She wasn’t Maggie anymore, though. She was a golden retriever but she wasn’t our Mags.