by Robin
(Naperville, Illinois)

It is one week ago this morning since I lied on the floor of our entryway beside our 15 yr old handsome Cocker Spaniel Wrigley. He was able to tell me he needed to go out, about 5:30 am which was earlier that usual . He got up and licked my face but he could not make it down the stairs, stopping at the top. I carried him down and to the back yard. He walked slowly to the grass like a good boy and tried to go potty but nothing would come out. I carried him up the patio stairs and set him on the floor. My husband was watching. Wrigley looked back at me, for 15 yrs he would bark for a treat at this point and I would say " have I ever forgotten to give you a treat"? and I'd throw one for him to catch in his mouth. Today he looked up at me and walked to the tile floor by the front door and lied down shaking as he'd done all the day and night before. I could not leave him, I always promised him he would have a beautiful life and when that was no longer possible, I would let him go. He was our first child, we got him 6 weeks after we were married, I was not allowed to have pets growing up and my husband had had a Cocker as a single man . This dog passed at 10yrs old and he now after 3 years felt ready to have another. Wrigley was 8 weeks old and loved to be touched, we took him to our city apartment and treated him like the gift that he was. In his entire 15 yrs, he was never boarded at a kennel or doggie daycare. When we did leave him to travel, he stayed with a friend or family. My husband works at home and I work part time so Wrigley was rarely at home alone for long stretches. He knew that he was our pride and joy. When he was two years old, we had our daughter and I mourned that Wrigley was no longer our only little love. Was that so wrong? I cried as I brought her in to the house and I bent down so he could smell her. It took him 5yrs to stop ignoring her. Just about the time it took for her to realize that was doing so. When my daughter was colicky, Wrigley laid next to me as I petted him and tried to console her, for 4 months. Over the years, she grew and became a sister to him, caring for him and cuddling with him even using him as an excuse to avoid her homework. He had some health scares, eating a package of sugar free gum, a bag of gummy bears and a bag of chocolate. But he was strong and handled the stomach pumping at the expensive Emergency Vet each time. I knew I would not lose him at those times. When we moved to the suburbs, we had to teach him to go in the back yard unleashed to do his business! We continued for 9 more years with the same Groomer in the city now 40 miles away as he knew Wrigley so well. We took him by car several times a year to see my family in Minneapolis and he would smile sitting on my lap the whole 8 hour ride, recognizing my mom's neighborhood as we arrived. People would come over and ask to pet him and would always say how beautiful he was. I felt proud and blessed . Wrigley was so affectionate and handsome and communicative, different barks for different things. He followed me constantly at my side throughout the house, not true for my husband or daughter. As soon as my daughter went to bed, Wrigley would jump on the bed with me as it was now our time when he would have my full attention. My husband was in his home office, rarely having these times. When I got out of the shower, Wrigley would prance over to lick my legs dry. I know, this sounds odd but he was grooming me, showing his love and I accepted it. I thought he was just slowing down a bit over this past Spring, I watched his moves and habits like a hawk ! He was happy but became very finicky about food and had trouble going potty in the yard and cuddled a bit less. I must have been in denial not to put these things together. Finally he did not want to take his evening walk to I asked my husband to take him to the Vet the next day just to check everything out. There was a different Vet filling in, he examined my boy and told my husband that Wrigley had a large liver mass that there was nothing we could do but talk as a family about putting him down. My husband insisted on pain meds and an antibiotic and then called me at work. I lost it, crying so hard because I knew I had to keep my promise to my boy. We saw our regular Vet the next afternoon. He was much more compassionate, we got an x-ray and saw the mass. He suggested we take Wrigley home with the pain meds and just watch him and stay in touch. I was so relieved. So we took him to the Groomer the next day as schedule where he did well. My daughter and I went to her favorite boy band's concert as we had tickets for over a year. Then that second morning after the Vet told us to watch him, he took a turn. He was lethargic, barely able to look up at us. He would not eat anything! I boiled chicken, took out the peanut butter. He would look away. He even threw up his water that we'd brought upstairs for him. I began to mourn him then, calling my mom and my best friend sobbing through out the day and all night. My husband was not ready, thinking maybe it was just a virus and not the mass that was making him so sick. It was long enough for me, with the mass and his age and his otherwise great quality of life I knew I had to let him go in peace as he deserved. He was my constant luvie, silly beautiful boy who was now suffering. My husband agreed with in a day and we took him to the Vet to be euthanized. We saw a lovely park/farmland area on our way and we let him out to walk a bit and lay in the grass. My daughter stayed in the car, my husband took pictures and I sat beside Wrigley petting him and telling him he was such a good boy. The staff at the Vet's office was compassionate , my husband and daughter held Wrigley and said there good byes and left the room. I held him in my arms whispering to him and rubbing his ears as they Vet gave the final injection talking about the love of a pet the whole time. Once Wrigley's spirit was gone, I put him on the Vet's table and gave one last kiss to his body. Then I left. We all drove home crying. Now we are the ones suffering. My daughter can't even talk about it. My husband wants me to stop talking about it. I can't! I call friends and family throughout each day, crying in pain. It is worst early in the am or late at night when I do not want to bother them. The pain is always there and then just wells up to an overwhelming level at some points. The house is quiet, there is no face licking or collar shaking or demands for treats. No big brown eyes streaming love at me, no long buff fur to pet or brush. I am so lonely and I feel alone in my grief. I am having trouble sleeping and when I do wake up after a few hours the pain, angry and despair are with me. I miss my baby boy!! He was not a dog or a pet to me. He was me son and I want him back young and strong for the rest of my life. Why do dogs have to die so soon? I now understand how strong the love between an animal and a human can be. I am so lucky to have finally experienced it, can I do it again? I hope so. It is just too painful right now. Thank you for listening, it is too early to call a friend and I had to retell what happened. I know that you all understand for sure!

Comments for Wrigley

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Oct 25, 2014
Grieve as long as you need
by: Carla

I truly & completely understand everything you said. It's been 7 years since we had to put our 131/2 yr old dog to sleep. He was my everything! Your're right, it's really bad when sometimes you grieve more for your pet than some others that you've had in life. That's the way I feel about myself anyway. But, when you think about it who you've known in you life & if they lived with you as close as your dog, I'd guess they didn't. Most people would never be willing to learn your routine day in & day out like a dog is willing to do--and still love you!!!
Just know that even after however many years it's been, you can still mourn.

Aug 26, 2013
by: Roxy

I understand your sorrow, we just put our little pom mix to sleep today and all we can do is cry.
She had a cancer mass on her heart. It was so hard to watch her suffer..
We just need to remember how much they meant to us and keep them in our hearts.
I am writing in a journal to vent my pain because I am like you talking about it helps me but it tears my husband up and even though my family understands my loss they quickly get bored hearing about it.. Try a journal write your feelings everyday and soon the ache will subside .. You never forget them but This helped me get through the loss of our Lab 6 years ago so I am going to use it again.

God Bless you

Aug 03, 2013
Wrigley - I understand how you feed
by: Karo

Dear Robin,

I am so so sorry for your loss, I understand how you feel. The emotion slowly builds up, like a wave rolling in before it crashes onto the rock. It is so painful in your heart. When I acknowledge the hurt and the pain in my heart, and let the tears slowly pour it helps a little til the next wave, they are more frequent in the beginning, slowly they lessen.

I had Bonnie for nearly 11 years, and on August 1st, 2013 I had to have her put to sleep. She had stage 4 kidney failure, and her quality of life had so deteriorated, that she had 3 seizures in a day. I did not wish for her to suffer no more, she didn't deserve to, she had loved me so unconditionally. I did it to relieve her pain. Her chest against mine, I felt her heart beat slow down, and faint. Until no more, she left peacefully. I love her so. I know your hurt, courage!

Jul 29, 2013
by: Debi M.

Robin -

Your story is very touching. I am so sorry for your loss - after all, they are our children with fur. I know you are grieving and will for a long time. Just know that you gave Wrigley a happy and safe home filled with love. God Bless you.

From one animal lover to another,
Debi M.

Jul 23, 2013
I am so sorry
by: Pam

I read your story and i know and understand your pain. I lost my lhasa seven months ago and I was completely heart broken. I felt it more than the rest of our family because he chose me to be his owner. It was a special bond and he was my baby, especially as our kids were growing older and no longer needed me as much. Two months ago we got a lhasa puppy. The house no longer felt so empty and he's absolutely adorable, but I still feel sad when I think about my special little guy with bone cancer and I felt disloyal to his memory getting a new baby. Let yourself grieve. It takes a long time to recover from a special bond.

Jul 22, 2013
by: Doreen U.K.

Robin whenever we lose a loved one or a beloved pet we will feel the raw pain of grief. this won't last. You will one day move beyond the pain you are in now. Some people may move away from you just because it may trigger their own pain and this can hurt also feeling lonely and isolated with grief. take one day at a time and realise that grief will last for days, or months, and for some years but each day is a day to move forward in our grief and realise all the good memories we had with that loved one/pet.
There will come a day when you will be able to process having another dog. But don't concentrate on this now it is too early. Focus on grieving and healing from your loss. Keep a journal. Write about Wrigley. This will be Wrigleys Journal of your life with him. Then with each pet you can have a journal and when you lose a pet and read your journal this will help you heal from your loss. This is also a very therapeutic and healing way forward.

Jul 21, 2013
Dear Robin,
by: Pat

I am very sorry for your loss. Wrigley was obviously a very strong member of your family for many years. I, too, have a cocker spaniel. Her name is Bonnie. It will be very difficult for me, when her time comes too. I also have a German shepherd named Byron. He came to me when my fiance' died in 2011. He had already been through many foster and shelter placements. I could not let him have to face that again so Bonnie and I made him a part of our family. He is a wonderful companion and source of support in my grief.

Years ago I was divorced and had to give up our dog (who was also a cocker spaniel) to my ex. That was very difficult. It was like a death to me.

About 5 years ago I had a little miniature dachshund. I only had her for 6 weeks. She fell off my sofa and ruptured several discs in her back. It left her dragging her hind feet and she had no control over her bowels or bladder. The vet gave me some cortisone and pain medication for her. He was hoping the cortisone would bring down the swelling and the fractures might begin to heal. He said it was a long shot, but I wanted to try it. I had had her for just a short period of time and was falling in love with her. The swelling did not go down and 2 days later she was still dragging her hind legs so desperate to even get a drink of water. She began to wallow in her own feces. I had to do what you did. She went to Heaven. It took me about a year before I could even think about getting another pet, but when I did get Bonnie, my grief was eased by her short little wiggly tail and warm nose.

There are many pets in this world who need loving homes. In time, I'm sure you will be ready to love another dog. When you go to these shelters and see their cute little faces, saying "take me home and love me," how can you resist? This is how I got my Bonnie. I couldn't stand to see her in that cage. We are now inseparable.

I send you many hugs. Wrigley was so happy with you for many years. He is watching over you and wagging his tail. Bless you, Robin. Take care. Pat

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