WARNING: Tissues may be needed during the reading of this post…
Losing Tealy, especially when we knew it wasn’t her time, has been incredibly hard for us these past couple weeks. You can read my raw goodbye letter here (have tissues handy.) We are doing better now, but this is something that will only heal with time.
I don’t know what I would have been like if we didn’t have Finn to distract me, snuggle with me, and bring a smile to my face during those first couple days. Probably going to get a dog… Not to fill a void or forget about Tealy, but to help me cope. Finn has been instrumental in bringing my focus back to day to day activities that still need to happen. It was hard to always be sad when you have another dog bringing you every single toy at their disposal. He definitely knew I was sad, and he did the only thing he knows to try and cheer me up – play! I think Finn saved us both from falling into a hole.
On thing I’m thankful for, as strange as it may sound, is the fact that we had warning and that the first organ the cancer attacked was one she could live without. We knew we only had 2-3 months left with her. When we went to the vet back in November with her the first time, I had a really bad feeling. I couldn’t explain it. The only reason we took her to the vet was because she was starting to be finicky with eating. But I had this terrible feeling that something was very wrong, and we wouldn’t be leaving with her that day.
My fears were confirmed when the vet came back in after a quick x-ray to tell us they found a mass in her spleen. I immediately burst into tears. But they told us next steps and that dogs can live without spleens! The next week was a blur of vet visits for an ultra-sound and then the surgery. We were able to bring her home that night, but it was the worst I’ve ever seen her. I was a puddle. The next morning, she was bouncing all over the place like normal again! Dogs really are amazing. She just had an organ removed, staples from rib cage to pelvis, and here she is jumping into bed with me and trying to run around the house with Finn (not doctor recommended I might add, but I let her enjoy life at this point). Then, as we were afraid of, the test on the removed mass came back cancerous with the diagnosis of 2-3 months left to live. The cancer would just attack another organ, and probably not one she could live without.
Oddly enough, we weren’t completely upset yet because we understood the blessing we had of knowing we still had some time left and didn’t want to waste it being sad. It certainly was not as much time as we would have liked, but we had the opportunity to make those months amazing for her. We savored each moment. Just sitting on the sofa and having her come snuggle up next to me meant so much more than it ever had before. We tried to etch into our memories the twinkle of her eyes as she came bounding down the hallway after fetching a toy we threw for her. Walks became less hurried and we let her take as loooooong as she wanted to sniff every mail box post and tree.
When February 20 rolled around and she went downhill fast, in less than an hour… we knew what that meant. The cancer had attacked her liver this time, and it had ruptured. It was small and slow, but she was bleeding internally. We weren’t taken by surprise when we had to make that decision. Maybe it made it hurt ever so slightly less??? I’m not really sure. But we will always be grateful we were given a little time to prepare and say good bye.
We did some other various stuff, during this time and just after, to help us remember her by. At first it was hard to see her everywhere. But ultimately, I’m so glad we did all of it! Now, just two weeks later, those same things bring a smile to my face. So here is a list of some of the things we did, that could maybe help you or be a good gift idea for someone you know who has lost their pet.
My friend, Heather, owner of Jackalope Photography, graciously came to our home and did a photo shoot for us with the dogs. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her either, since she’s a crazy dog person like me, and she lost her beloved pooch last year. It means so much that she came out to do this! Jordan and I both have so many photos of the dogs that we take on a regular basis, but it was important for me to have a photo of all of us as a family. I wanted to be able to use some of the photos to frame around the house. And sorry…. but our iPhone selfie photos just weren’t gonna make the cut.
Print Those Photos
You don’t need professional photos for this like we did. But PRINT YOUR PHOTOS! Don’t just leave them on random hard drives or thumb drives never to be seen again. Celebrate those moments by letting them live on your walls and still be a part of life. My friend, who I don’t deserve, got us this framed print of the photo she took by Artifact Uprising. It is now proudly displayed next to our front door. I’m also working on putting together a photo book of Tealy during the almost 8 years she was in our lives. It’s very cathartic to go through all the happy memories over the years and remembering the funny stories as I go. I want it to be a small 6×6 or 8×8 inch book. Chatbooks is a great value I’ve used several times before, but the printing quality isn’t the best. It’s not bad! It’s just not the best I think I want it to be for a memorial book. But Artifact Uprising also does small photo books at these sizes for not much more and a better quality paper. I’m not sure which way I’ll go on this one just yet, but the photos are being printed!
Paw Imprint Ornament
As we were enjoying decorating for Christmas and just generally living the slow, happy life; we crafted some paw print ornaments with both dogs. This is something I always meant to do, but thought I would have more time. We purchased this kit online to make things easy for ourselves. The process was easy and not messy at all. In less than 15 minutes, we had two impressions and stuck them in the oven to dry out. I’ve also seen framed shadow boxes with a photo of the dog and their paw imprint together if you would rather have it up all year. Our vet actually had this an option for us as well. But I’m glad we did this together and have that memory.
Memory Box of Her Things
This one was the hardest. I’m not ready to just get rid of her things. So I have a small box I collected her stuff in, to save for myself. It could be a pretty box you go get to look nice on a shelf, or a little Rubbermaid box like mine. It originally was where I kept her things in the apartment when I first got her, but we outgrew it as life went on. It eventually became my box of things she wasn’t using at the moment, like a crate water bottle and winter booties. In it, I always kept the collar and slip leash she was wearing when I got her from the shelter and her first name tag. I have since added her first toy (which she picked out herself the day I got her), the last frisbee she ever caught, the collar she was wearing in the end, her leash, her harness, her winter jacket, and her favorite toy (a piggy from IKEA, yes my dog loved IKEA too). Finn has all his own stuff since he’s a little bigger, and he has plenty of toys to choose from since he got to dig into Tealy’s plentiful collection the day we brought him home. As hard as it is, it’s nice to have some things to open and cry over a few years down the road. Things she touched, and things that I didn’t clean her hair off of before storing them away.
I’m a creature of habit and have three minimal necklaces I switch between on any given day. Some days I even wear two of them together! I chose to expand my collection with this necklace with her name engraved on it. I actually didn’t cry when i got it in the mail. It brought a smile to my face because I would always have her close to my heart now. I have gotten an engraved bracelet for a friend before, and could also see this being a great key chain.
Whatever you do to remember your best friends and fur babies, I think it’s important to know – it’s ok to feel the way you do. I know this sounds crazy, but I have felt guilty; like I didn’t give her a good enough life, I worked too much, or just a general feeling of guilt because I made the decision to end her life. As soon as I said all those things out loud, I started to feel better. Even if it isn’t true, sometimes we just need to say it, get it out in the universe so we can lighten our soul. I feel blessed to have been able to go through this together with Jordan. Even though we were both in pain, we were also able to be there for one another. To cry with, to hug, to make sense of things, to sit on the floor with, to share our crazy experiences that made us feel like Tealy was there… One thing that started to help me was this thought; if Tealy were here right now seeing me upset, she would be comforting me not worrying about herself. So I was gonna be happy for her, so she could stop worrying about me.
Last modified: March 7, 2018