I woke up this morning after a bad night of heartache, and went to find Bella. We were going to take Bella to the vet this morning, to end her suffering. I keep thinking, maybe not yet, maybe she can last another day.
I found her on her side on the camping pad, legs flailing as she tried to sit up. She couldn't move her body enough to put a leg under her to rotate to sit up. She just kept flailing.
My heart broke as I realized she wasn't going to last another day.
I picked her up, and tried to stand her up. She would have fallen over if I hadn't helped her, so I carried her outside and set her down so that she could pee if she needed to pee. She didn't seem to, and tried to walk, falling over before I could stop her.
I helped her back up, and stood over her as she started walking in circles around the backyard. I wasn't sure what she was looking for, what she was going, but I was going to help her do whatever she was doing. We walked figure eights in the yard and we walked circles. We walked up to walls, and turned around and kept walking. She didn't pee.
While I was helping Bella, Kris was calling the vet. It wasn't nine, yet, so I thought I had time.
He came out and told me to go dress, we were going to the vets.
There's something hard yet simple about carrying your dog to her death. She lost a lot of weight, so carrying her wasn't hard, yet it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I held her close.
The desk knew Bella, knew we were coming in, led us immediately to a room, and the vet showed up almost immediately. They had a new, padded blanket on the examining table, which was nice to lay her down on. The vet started examining her, listening to her heart, asking about the heart murmur, about her breathing. It was clear pretty quickly that she didn't understand why we were here.
Kris stood up. "We appreciate your looking her over, but we're ready to say goodbye."
The vet looked up surprised. "I believe that's the correct decision," she said. She explained what would happen, then left to get a paper to sign and a syringe of anaesthetic.
When she returned, two of the vet techs came in with her. They wanted to say good-bye, too. With Bella receiving fluids twice a week at the vets for the last eight months, they had come to know and love Bella, too.
So, with four sets of hands petting her, Bella received her final shot. She flinched, and then settled, as the four of us pet her, giving her as much love as we could. One of the techs commented they have lots of pictures of Bella in the back, that she was one tough dog. Kris commented she was quite the Rally Beagle!
They took Bella out to put a catheter in her arm, and brought her back. One of the techs came back with the vet. The vet asked us to sign a paper authorizing her to complete the injection. Bella was snoring away, finally relaxed in a way I don't think she had been for months, if not a year. The vet told us that we wouldn't have to stop at the front desk on our way out, asked if we preferred a communal cremation or a private cremation with ashes returned (the latter, clearly) and asked if we were ready.
No, we were not ready, we would never be ready for this. Fuck no never never never.
The vet injected a second syringe into the catheter. Bella's breathing slowed, then stopped. The vet listened to her heart, then said, "She's gone." She said other words, I don't know what they were. The vet and the tech left.
After they left, I put my face into her neck, with the words "TAKE IT BACK! TAKE IT BACK! I WANT THE BELLA BACK! TAKE IT BACK!" screaming in my head. Unable to do much else, I sobbed. I cried and cried and cried the sounds of loss. It took Kris' hand on my shoulder a while later for me to come out of the pain, and his request that we not stay long enough for him to feel her become cold, for me to stop the waves of heartache long enough to walk out of that room and leave her behind.
Death should never be that easy.
We went back to the house. I spent the day crying.
This is the last picture I have of Bella alive. The vet techs removed their hands from the picture, so you don't know that four people were pouring their love into this little doggie just a second before the photo.