Losing Chloe

Losing Chloe

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Losing Chloe

It is the end of an era. I am recovering from a devastating heartbreak after ending a 15-year love affair… with an Alaskan Malamute. It was never ‘the other woman’ scenario as my wife embraced and loved Chloe as much as I did. In fact that dog was responsible for bringing us together, when Chloe terrorized Christies dog Keena at Terwilliger Dog Park. Christie & I wondered aloud to each other how differently our lives would have been if the girlfriend who I got Chloe with 15 years ago had taken her when she left me. With that simple twist of fate there would have been no chance meeting with Christie at the dog park. In this alternate universe vanished 11 of the best years of my life, the dogs pulling my wife to my marriage proposal on Valentines Day, The snapshot of Chloe & Mac the ring bearers at our wedding and most profoundly a beautiful son who we absolutely cherish.

ROUTINES

I still can’t even comprehend that Chloe is gone.

It is so difficult since the dogs life was so intertwined with the life of Christie and I. Our entire life together as husband and wife has not only involved dogs but those specific dogs accommodating for their idiosyncrasies and losing them is to alter our daily existence, Chloe was so embedded in our habits that it is so odd as I wash my truck to have the garage door open and not have to worry about a wandering dog. It’s so weird not having to leave the lights on downstairs for her. When I walk by the foyer at the front door I can not even comprehend that my old girl is not sleeping there at the door, our house just seems so empty, so hollow. I was upstairs rinsing dishes something I haven’t had to do in so long. I habitually would let the dogs lick our dirty dishes clean, something my family members found absolutely disgusting. I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned since we put them in the dishwasher to disinfect them anyway we save rinsing water and gave our dogs a much appreciated treat and they were more than happy to accommodate us & lick them clean. Sadly near the end Chloe wasn’t even doing that, at least not very well.

I get so impacted by the death of our animals. When a dog leaves us there are all those little daily reminders; our routines, tuffs of dog hair, uneaten dog food, empty supplement containers, whatever, to remind us of years of happiness we received from them. Everywhere I go I am reminded of times I was there with my dogs.

AGING

It had been a little over a month that Chloe was actually even able to get up the long flight of stairs to our second floor. It was a 50/50 chance that she could even make it up my 3 back door steps. Sometimes I would lift that solid malamute body so she could be with us upstairs but she absolutely hated and threw a tantrum when I did that. I can’t remember the last time I went for a run with her. It must have been a month or so that we even went for a walk on the nature trails that I created for my dogs around the acreage.

Considering her age and even though she was a senior dog and far less active than she used to be I still miss, taking her out for her little wanders through the subdivision on the road to the neighbours to visit their Akita Sealey through the fence. I miss caring for her and I miss her bossy-ness and her malamute disobedient personality so much. In 15 years she never one time won the battle of wills with me but even a few days before the end she was still trying to push past me to go harass the Rottweiler TJ across the street. Sadly when she bumped into my leg she would fall down & I would have to lift her up, I suppose it was kind of like a cranky old man chasing the neighbourhood kids with his cane

PLANNING

After having Chloe gone we thought that we would wait a while to get a new dog as it is not out of the question with John’s health that we will end up with Princess. Charlotte isn’t exactly a spring chicken in fact it is plausible that we could end up with any of the Super Seven dogs. Since Princess is so terrible with other dogs we thought we would just wait to get another. However if I have not learned one thing from our experience over the past few years with the dogs is that you just cannot plan for life.

Although we scheduled Chloe’s ultimate demise like a dog coming over for a chiropractic adjustment between 2 to 4 and it’s kind of sad when I think about it that way. But for the most part our dogs have taught us that you really can’t schedule in life.

It was supposed to work out perfectly Chloe the aging old girl of failing health would pass on and Mac the younger more agile happy male that everyone including Emma loved would welcome our Afghan Matriarch into our home and give her the life she’s always deserved in the home for the next 10 years or so.

But that wasn’t to be. Never in our wildest imagination would we have ever dreamed that Chloe would out live everybody, Teddy, Dash, Mac, Emma, and Hardy. You simply can’t schedule or script life as much as we think we have that power. When Chloe died it felt like losing Mac & Keena all over again, since Chloe was the anchor that still connected us to the other dogs, even through our routines.

It is with that in mind that we thought what are we going to do? Have the rest of our life without a dog waiting for something that may never happen?  We actually were looking after Princess after Chloe passed and it has helped ease the pain just to become distracted by another animal with her funny little quirks. But then I was out for a rollerblade with Princess through the subdivision and the memories came flooding back to me the countless hours that I spent doing those activities with Chloe and it really made me miss her even more. Princess wouldn’t eat breakfast something that I’m entirely not accustomed to as the Malamutes, gobble their food down until that last day and that was a signal to us, among other things that it may be

HER LAST DAY

We released my best friend in the world, at home, surrounded by love. She literally could not even stand shortly before the vet arrived, her back end sinking to the ground. I know it couldn’t have been a better day. It was Sunday afternoon, we were both home, it was a beautiful sunny day so Chloe didn’t have to be out in the rain or inclement weather and neither of us had to rush off to work and we were around her at home all day. We didn’t even have to bring her into the vet clinic and that makes me feel better about the situation.

With her failing health and at 15 years old we knew her time was limited but a couple things made us come to this decision on that final morning. An article that Christie had read the night before stating that as much as we want our dogs to pass peacefully and naturally that’s often not the reality of what happens when you let them go on their own.  The reality can be very ugly. Secondly a friend stated just the night before that he had always heard that the animals will let you know and give you some sort of sign. The very next morning Chloe stopped eating. To both Christie and I were devastated as she’d always gobbled her food up in a few bites.

Her final day I got a lot of time with Chloe walking around having her enjoying sloshing through the puddles in the ditches as I just followed her (as opposed to going for an actual walk with a destination in mind) we just walked for the joy of walking. It was just her & I strolling around the yard pretty much all morning. She got her last sniffs in and patrolled her last routes that she’d always take around the property. The sun was shining and it’s early morning rays were bursting over the horizon and even in this beauty I had incredible pain at the whole idea of letting her go.

Her friend Mary came out and spent the afternoon with Chloe. Mary had never really said this before but said that gee Chloe is really struggling hearing that from a third party who also loved Chloe reinforced that we were doing the right thing.

I wish that I could say that like Mac it was peaceful & beautiful. Chloe’s last moments weren’t pretty. I was hoping that it would be like Mac who was relaxed in the vet clinic & literally just drifted off to sleep, it was perfect.  In Chloe’s situation the vet was kind enough to make a house call. It would have been far too traumatic to take her into the clinic. Just before the vet came Chloe was walking around and she was very unsettled. Chloe had stumbled & fallen against the house right next to her dog door. She had been resting and relaxing comfortably earlier in the day and it was during this time that Christie and I had shaved her fore leg to prepare it for the IV. Shortly after that as she had been doing lately she rose & anxiously paced with no destination in particular and she was panting like crazy.

Once the vet arrived it all happened so quickly. The vet walked up aside her as I cradled her head in my arms and as the vet slid the IV needle in her paw Chloe began to scream and thrash and struggled so strongly Christie held her body down as Chloe screamed. I was whispering choking through tears that I loved her so much. She wailed and fought, then after the initial sedative took effect after what seemed like an eternity she went limp, the vet put two more large clear plungers of fluid into her & her tongue dropped out of the side her mouth as the vet lifted her eye lids her eyes were staring blankly ahead. Christie felt the reason why Chloe screamed and struggled was just she never was really good at getting needles into her paw. Regardless that part honestly couldn’t have gone worse, it was heart breaking

There was a rock that is pressing through my throat that hurt when I swallowed. I buried my face into her fur and told her how much I loved her as my eyes spilled over with tears and I said that would miss her as her body lay there lifeless. Knowing that soon I would never see her again, never smell her musty fur, or hold her thick body. There was an actual physical ache in my chest

I can’t say definitively that what we did was better than having to rush her off somewhere in the middle of the night because that’s the thing about when you put them down like that I will never be 100% sure I did the right thing. I remember that first time three years ago when Chloe had her first seizure if I had the means I would have put her down that night never give it a second thought I did the right thing. After her first episode we took her to the vet & they found a ‘mass’ next to her heart yet we got three extra years out of her after that & her first of what probably ended up being a dozen or so seizures. However right at this moment not unlike Mac I would give almost anything just to hold her again and give her a pet and a kiss.

She could barely hold up her back end the last month we had to lift her up probably 10 times a day, the final day it was probably 30 or 40 times.  She was soiling herself often and her quality-of-life seemed gone. Then I beat myself up at times, did I wait too long? She would stumble over the threshold unable to step over even that but then later that day she would enjoy a walk with us.

Yet later on though wasn’t like it used to be she did lick her food and actually got down a little bit of kibble. I was happy that she had a full belly as food was her favourite thing in the world.  So I began to SECOND GUESS my decision though her appetite has declined later on it had not totally diminished.

I always thought many people put their dogs down too early, being married to a chiropractor I have seen the miracles that that modality brings. So many people would have ended their dogs life and all the dog needed was an adjustment. But ultimately I think most owners know their dog best & we make the best decision for our dog.  And it is rarely an easy decision

THE NEXT DAY I took the time to clean out all of Chloe stuff from her cupboard. That was just about as hard as actually putting her down. We had just bought dog food and her supplements were all neatly laid out in the pill containers with the days engraved on the plastic embossing.  It really hurts me to think about that when I put them in the container just a few days ago she was still alive and she will never take that medicine again.

I hope I will feel relief one day that I no longer have to worry about her. There’s a part of me that just has incredible emptiness and is missing her and funny enough I loved to worry about her and come home and see her and hold her and pet her. In the backyard as the wind was moving the grass it just seemed like such an empty place without having my best friend of 15 years there.

I haven’t got the relief yet that I was hoping I would get from releasing Chloe from the pain and the struggle that she’s been going through. I sent out a few messages a YouTube video on Facebook. People may disparage SOCIAL MEDIA but the scores of comments about our loss really provided a needed distraction from the pain that I was feeling. I was in line at the grocery store & checked my phone & as I approached the cashier I was welling up with emotion. I kept it together in Sobeys, but just barely

The fact of the matter is at 15 years old I knew that there is no way that she was coming back from this but it doesn’t make it any easier even though the old girl did everything that we asked of her she made it past her 15th birthday she met little Anders what more could you ask she waited till we were home and not on vacation somewhere that would have been devastating

God I will never forget that dog as long as I live she’s my first dog and I will always love her. It’s almost like I don’t know what to do now that she’s not here with us for us to take care of.

I would say right now though I still feel physically ill to my stomach just all this emotion it’s been bundled up for so long and I still really don’t have the relief and almost doesn’t seem real that Chloe is no longer with us.

I think that losing a dog is the hardest thing to do in the world I don’t think anything ever in my life is hurt as much is losing my dogs. I sure hope it’s true what they say about their spirits being free and that they are actually sentient beings that are running free It would sure make me happy to know that Chloe is pain-free, young and running with Mac and Keena

CONCLUSION

This is permanent nothing can take away the pain and the fact that she was 15 years old and had a great life doesn’t really make it any easier it hurts all the same. 15 years of my life devoted to an animal and even with all this pain I wouldn’t change one minute of it

I almost can’t even believe that this is happened sometimes I thought this day would never come that we would have Chloe forever I know it’s silly to say that but she’s just been such a solid part of my life every single day for 15 years

It’s hard to even fathom how much I’ve changed by having these dogs. I had the dogs before my motorcycle, before my wife, my acreage,  I have the Chloe before 911. So much has happened in the world and my life since then and because of having those creatures.

Chloe did everything we wanted of her in her twilight years, she made it to her 15th birthday; saw the birth of our son. My first dog it is the end of a very happy chapter of my life,

I got her a little brother, Mac, who hopefully will be waiting for her on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  I cannot even imagine my life without her; my sun rose & set with her every single day. It is hard to think that an animal can have such a profound impact on our lives, on our emotions. I loved that dog as much as anything in this world. We all have our time I guess & I released you Chloe from your aching bones & pain. Thank you for everything you have done for me & thank you for the past 15 years of fun, happiness, laughs & the all that comes with an Alaskan Malamute adventure. Rest in Peace Chloe-Bear