A sad and emotional day

Today has been such an emotional day that there’s no way I feel like sorting out photos and writing a Monday Walk page – sadly my friend Janet had to have her lovely dog Aphra put to sleep at the animal hospital and as she was in no fit state emotionally to drive herself there I took her and stayed with her.
Aphra was a Bearded Collie and only six years old but for the last couple of years has been beset by one medical problem after another, with visits to the vet’s every few months and being on an almost constant supply of various forms of medication for whatever was wrong at the time. A few weeks ago she started with what we thought could be a urinary tract infection – a course of antibiotics failed to clear it so she was booked in for tests and scans and it was found that her bladder wasn’t functioning properly. Janet had to take her every day for a week for a particular injection and tests at the end showed that things had improved quite well, however she then developed a bacterial gut infection for which she had yet more medication.
Last Wednesday evening Janet phoned me to tell me she wouldn’t be in when I went to do her cleaning the following day and also said that Aphra had become very listless and didn’t want to eat or go out – indeed when I went up there the dog was very quiet instead of being her usual bouncy self, and though I did manage to take her for a short walk she just trailed miserably along behind me. Late on Friday afternoon I got a very distressed call from Janet to say that she had taken Aphra to the vet’s earlier and they were transferring her to the animal hospital nine miles away as she was so ill, then yesterday the vet at the animal hospital rang Janet to say that Aphra’s kidneys were damaged to the point of shutting down, and though they would make one last ditch attempt to stabilise her she would probably have to be put to sleep.
This morning Janet rang me in tears again to say that the vet had phoned and told her Aphra was no better but they were willing to give her until 3pm to see if there was any positive change – unfortunately there wasn’t, Aphra was now suffering so it was time to say goodbye, although Janet asked them to wait until she could get there. With a heavy heart I picked her up from home and she was in tears all the way to the hospital – we were taken into the family room, and though I expected to see Aphra lying semi-comatose in a cage she was brought out to us, and to see her it was hard to believe anything was wrong. Although she wasn’t her usual lively self she was happy and her tail was wagging, and she made a big fuss of both of us, although she tired very quickly and went to lie on the blanket provided for her.
The vet made us a coffee and said we could take as much time as we liked to say our goodbyes – Janet was too upset to make any rational decisions for afterwards so with my guidance she asked for Aphra to be kept at the hospital and arrangements would be made direct with the pet crematorium tomorrow for her collection and individual cremation, then when she was ready she signed the consent form and sat on the blanket with Aphra, holding her and stroking her while she went to sleep for the last time. We were then given as much time as we wanted to sit with her until Janet felt ready to leave – there was a big white board on one wall of the room with a glue stick and a supply of leaf-shaped post-it notes for people to leave memorial messages, so I wrote one for Aphra and stuck it on the board before we left.
Janet has asked me to make the arrangements with the pet crematorium as, according to her, “I know what I’m doing” so that will be my first job tomorrow morning, although it’s not something I’m looking forward to as it seems so final. Although Aphra wasn’t my dog I’ve become quite fond of her over the years so today hasn’t been the easiest – and though I mainly managed to keep my emotions in check at the animal hospital I’ve cried since I got back home. Although some people might say that Aphra was ‘only a dog’ she was Janet’s friend and constant companion – mine too when I looked after her during the times Janet was away – and she will be very much missed in many ways.
Copy of Local area 2017 269
RIP Aphra – always loved and always remembered  xx

16 thoughts on “A sad and emotional day

  1. Always a sad thing to have to do, and the best way for the animal is to stay with them as you did. I saw a couple of vets tweeting recently to plead with people to stay with their pets at the end – as soon as their person leaves they start looking round for them anxiously. To me that’s a no-brainer but I do know people who are very good pet owners otherwise, yet say they couldn’t bear to be there when the deed is done. I just wanted the last thing our cats felt to be us stroking them and telling them what good girls they were. My sympathies to your friend.

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  2. Thank you Anabel. Janet lives alone so she will really feel the loss of Aphra – the photo is one I took last year and had it made into a canvass print for Janet’s birthday, it’s on the wall at the top of the stairs and she said it will never be moved now.

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  3. A day all pet lovers dread, saying goodbye. It’s the final kindness we can do for them and I agree with Anabel that it’s best to stay with them so they aren’t anxious and they feel a gentle hand on them as they go to their final sleep. My sympathies to your friend Janet. RIP beautiful Aphra.

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    1. Thank you Eileen. It’s been particularly upsetting for Janet as Aphra was only six and had been expected to live quite a long life – her last two Beardies were 13 and 15 respectively so for Aphra to die so young has been devastating. I only found out last week the not-very-nice circumstances surrounding her birth – although she came from a bona fide breeder (to be honest I have my doubts) and is KC registered she was one of only three survivors from a litter of seven. Apparently three were stillborn and one died just after birth, so we are now wondering if Aphra’s various medical problems were hereditary or possibly the result of unscrupulous breeding – something we will never know, but for the last two years she has never been completely pain free until that one final act yesterday.

      This morning I made all the arrangements with the pet crematorium and Aphra will be collected from the animal hospital today and cremated this evening, then her ashes will be returned to the hospital to be collected from there. Janet isn’t sure yet what she will do with them but will probably either scatter them along one of Aphra’s favourite walks or buy a plant and bury them in the garden 😦

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  4. As some one who is a dog owner, had dogs put to sleep and worked in a veterinary surgery – it is not easy. Not easy at all. sending hugs {{Aphra}}

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  5. Thank you Sharon. I should have gone away on Saturday but had to take Sophie to the vet’s that morning (more of that in a future post) so planned on going yesterday instead but stayed home to support Janet as I knew how upset she would be. I’ve since heard that there’s a storm due to hit the North Wales coast today and tomorrow so I’ve delayed my departure even further 😦

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  6. The situation would have been upsetting at any time but has seemed even more heartbreaking as Aphra was still so young. She was a lovely dog, could get a bit excitable when she knew she was going out for a walk but otherwise very calm, quiet and placid and only ever barked if someone knocked on the door. Quite coincidentally, when Aphra was only eight months old, she and Janet came with me and my two on my second visit to Northumberland – I’d grown quite fond of her over the years so it will seem strange now to go to Janet’s and not have Aphra greet me like she used to 😦

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  7. Always heartbreaking and especially so with such a young Beardie . . . they are such a special breed with a unique personality.

    Janet is very fortunate to have you as a friend. You did good my girl, and you deserve a big hug.

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  8. Thank you Jayne. I’m just glad I was able to help at such a distressing time – if I’d gone away last Saturday as originally planned I wouldn’t have been able to do anything so I’m just glad I was still here to offer help and support when it was very much needed.

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  9. Sorry for the delayed reply AT, I’ve been away for a few days and only got back earlier today. It’s certainly not easy to say goodbye to a much-loved pet no matter which way they go, and it’s been particularly heartbreaking this time as Aphra was only six and hadn’t been in the best of health for the last two years so Janet feels like she didn’t have the happy life she should have had 🙂

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