The Dog Owner Files: Saying Goodbye and Moving On – Life Without Bruiser

This post is written by Amanda Meriwether about her beloved dog Bruiser who passed away recently. You may remember Amanda from her post last year about preparing your dog for a baby. Bruiser was a cherished part of Amanda’s family and his passing came much too quickly. This post touches on the hardest part of being a pet parent – knowing when to say goodbye.

I remember the specialist’s words so clearly in my head, “If he was my dog, I would put him down.” I immediately asked if he was in any pain and she said, “Let’s put it this way, he doesn’t feel like how a dog should feel.”

In a way I was relieved to hear the doctor say it because in my heart I felt like we were delaying the inevitable and causing Bruiser to suffer. I couldn’t be selfish. I had to let him go. He could not overcome his ITP (Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia) that he was diagnosed with in late November. Attempts to control the disease with medication, a chemo treatment, and an immuglobulin treatment only gave us immediate relief and not lasting results like we wanted.

Bruiser’s “bucket list” day was deemed February 5. We started with early morning snuggles at 4:45 a.m. and I didn’t want him to leave but after about thirty minutes he went and plopped back down on his favorite spot on the rug. I cooked him a ground beef breakfast and then we were off for a short walk, and a car ride to Petco.  At Petco I bought him a new ball, stuffed animal and several treats. We walked around the shopping center a bit, thankful for the plowed sidewalks in the dead of Cleveland winter, and then came back home for a bagel with cream cheese snack (one of his favorites) and a nap. When he woke up we went outside and played ball – one of his favorite things to do – and something that he didn’t get to do too often because of his neck injury a few years prior. That night I made him his favorite dinner – spaghetti and meatballs. We had lots of hugs and snuggles and some photos.

The next morning we told Charlotte, my daughter, to say goodbye to Bruiser. She gave him a few pets and said, “Bye dog.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room except for Charlotte, who clearly didn’t comprehend what was happening.

Everything you read says that it takes time to heal. There are days where I feel good, and days where I am really depressed. Seeing Bella, Bruiser’s sister, is a double-edged sword. It makes me feel happy and sad all at the same time. They have similar personalities and expressions. Sometimes Bella will do something that is so inherently similar to Bruiser, it makes me smile.

SAVE Bruiser 2013 NEW Bruiser June 2014

Seeing other dogs is helpful too. Charlotte and I have been meeting lots of dogs on our walks and we tell everyone about Bruiser and how we miss him. Everyone with a dog is sympathetic and lets us pet their dog a little extra longer. I watch the video I made of Bruiser pretty often, but I still can’t watch it without crying. To see Bruiser’s life watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3HvDknwmss

I wrote personalized thank you notes to the specialists and team at VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Specialists (http://www.vcaspecialtyvets.com/great-lakes) and also to Dr. Joe Farkas at Belvoir Pet Hospital. Everyone that tried to save Bruiser meant so much to us and we wanted to let them know.  I recently got a card in the mail letting me know that Belvoir Pet Hospital had made a donation in Bruiser’s name to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. What a wonderful way to memorialize our boy.

Vet

Talking about Bruiser also helps. I think people are sometimes afraid to ask me about him or mention him, but it actually helps to talk about him, and not pretend like the situation didn’t happen or he didn’t exist. I have a colleague who recently had to put down his 14 year old dog, and my heart went out to him. I told him that if he ever wants to talk to let me know.  I am not alone in my pain and know others are experiencing it too.

Lots of people ask if we will get another dog, and maybe one day down the road we will when Charlotte is older. I love dogs so much and can’t imagine Charlotte growing up without one. We can never replace Bruiser and I don’t want to try. He was a special dog who was loved by many, but none more than me.

Bruiser May 2014

What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”   ― Helen Keller

Amanda also blogs at Cleveland Mommy Diary – http://clevelandmommydiary.blogspot.com

Have a story you want to share about your dog? Email me at contact@dogsinthecle.com to be featured in The Dog Owner Files.