Kelly's Dog Blog - An Emptier, Quieter House

Losing Wrigley

October 31, 2018

They say that when your spouse dies, the nights are the most difficult, as you realize you are the only one in your bed. You reach over in the middle of the night and no one is there.

With dogs, it’s about food bowls. The first time you set out five, instead of the usual six. 

I miss my Wrigley.

Reminiscent of Bob Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol,” as he breaks down while glancing at the footstool and cane by the fire where Tiny Tim once sat, I well up at the sight of the inflatable collar still sitting on the coffee table; the collar Wrigley wore off and on during his last month on earth, to keep him from nibbling the sores on his body. 

Wrigs also found comfort in front of any oscillating fan; it will take a while for me not to naturally cut a wide arc as I walk past one in our house. 

The distinctive clattering bark no longer mixes with the noise of our other dogs. A spirited Schnauzer, he would sometimes enter the room with guns a’blazin’. “Yap-yap-yap, everybody, I’m here! Let’s get the party started! Yap-yap-yap!” Sweet and docile one moment, boisterous curmudgeon the next, he was forever bursting with personality. 

Veterinarians say one of the hardest parts of their job is when a pet owner refuses to be in the room as their beloved pet is being euthanized. The owner leaves their 4-legged companion at the vet and tearfully walks away.

Chuck refused to be there, and I understood; as long as one of us was there. This dog that brought us 13 ½ years of laughter and joy, amid frustration at times; 1000 laughs and joyous moments vs. a handful of heartbreaking times, pets earn that right to have at least one family member present as they are taking their last breaths. 

Related: It's Never Easy 

Dr. Sondra, the veterinarian who came to the house to perform the procedure has seen it all, I am sure.  Gentle, professional, compassionate and thorough, just as she was two years ago when we had to let my Boston Terrier Trudy go. 

On the coffee table nearby sat framed pictures of Wrigley at various stages of his life; among them, Puppy Wrigs, Dapper Wrigs fresh from a PetSmart grooming, Wrigs laying on the bed with our five other dogs. Treats and a box of tissues were also in reach.

Wrigley gobbled the treats as Dr. Sondra administered the first shot. He grew weary and listless almost immediately. I continued to rub his ears, scratch his back, kiss the top of his head and talk to him in a loving, gentle voice, all the while my tears flowing with abandon. 

Second shot, and moments later he was gone. I continued to caress him and tell him how much we all loved him.  

Once he transitioned, Dr. Sondra snipped a lock of Wrigley’s wispy silver fur, then took a paw print in some clay for me to bake later, to have as remembrances. She then left for a few minutes while we let the other dogs come down and give their farewells. Some seemed oblivious, but I know each dog had their own special sense of closure those last few minutes with their brother. 

Chuck even came down with the dogs and gave Wrigley a few loving strokes. Eyes full of tears, he then led the pack back upstairs. 

Dr. Sondra came back in and gathered her things. As she swaddled Wrigley snuggly up in a blanket, I crouched down on all fours and gave him one more kiss on the top of his head before she pulled the blanket up over it. She then carried Wrigley out to her car and I followed so I could get our parking pass she needed to hang in the windshield of her car. I tearfully hugged her and thanked her, and then she drove away with my boy.

That night as I stand on our upstairs balcony that looks over our street, cool evening air soothing my tear-stained cheeks and puffy eyes, I say hello down to a man walking his Pugs.

He waves up and says, “Your dogs aren’t barking as loud tonight.” I pause for a moment, then smile and tell him why. I then say goodnight and go back inside, to an emptier, quieter house. 

I will get through this; I've become pretty good at it over time.

We will receive Wrigley’s ashes on Friday.