This week was a very tough one for us as we said goodbye to Zoe, our 13-year old Great Pyrenees. It had gotten to the stage where each day we hold our breath as we woke her up. She slept so, so hard and her breath was barely evident. But until this week, she would wake up and look at us with a patient, yet annoyed look, as if to say, "Gimme a break, I am old and sleep hard."
For the last few months or so she struggled to stand on her own, so we watched her to see when she is ready to move her position. Zoe has guarded us as only a Great Pyrenees can for years and she was not letting anything stop that. Instead of doing the Pyr Patrol, which consists of trotting in a circle around the area she perceived was her and barking her deep, "Woo woo woo" to let any creatures know ZOE IS ON GUARD, at the end Zoe lay under a tree and shouted her Woo Woo Woo.
When the vet was out a few weeks ago I asked him how he felt she looked. He looked at me in amazement and said, "Kathy, she is a 13-year-old Great Pyrenees and is alive and walking. She looks great!" Then he gave me a look and said, "It will be sooner rather than later, you know." I knew....
Steve and for the last few months made a point to tell Zoe every single day that she had been the most wonderful and wise friend we could have ever dreamed about. Each day I told her she looked great and was the smartest, bravest dog I had ever known. I thanked her every day, out loud, for being the guardian of our world. I thanked her for all the wonderful memories she had given everyone who met her at the resort we used to own. I thanked the synchronicities that allowed us to have her in our lives.
Yes, I know I have written articles about knowing when to say goodbye and honoring the needs of our dogs who give us so much, but I was not ready to say goodbye to her. And of course, I had no say in the matter. It was her time.
At the end, Zoe was unable to stand and she began to refuse food. On Wednesday, Ashley, Teri and I looked out at her and my heart stopped...she was so, so still. I rushed out and I did not see her breathing. I thought she was gone. Ashley and Teri saw my expression and ran out to us. Then Ashley saw a small movement and yes, she was breathing. We called Steve and he said he was on his way.
While we waited for Steve to come say his goodbyes, we again told her how wonderful she was and how deeply loved she was. I told her over and over that it was OK to go. Steve got home and, of course, Zoe perked up. She stood up and Steve helped her to the house, but she refused to go in. After tears and conversation I called the vet and asked if someone could come out then. The wonderful team at Cornerstone Veterinary Service said that one of them would be there as soon as possible.
Dr. Maurceen pulled up a bit later and explained the process to us. We had said our goodbyes as well as we could and we told to go ahead. We told Zoe we wanted her to have her dignity and not begin to suffer. She looked at us and shut her eyes.
Dr. M gave her the first shot and then checked her heartbeat, still beating, then again and again. The decision was made to administer another shot. Still breathing, heart still beating. A third shot was given and Zoe slipped away from us. Dr. M said that a dosage normally used on horses, but we weren't a bit surprised.
In true Great Pyrenees fashion Zoe put our needs ahead of hers. She was convinced that no one else could be trusted to guard our property and us (dogs, cows, horses and fat ponies). She benevolently considered us incompetent, but loved us anyway.
It is now several days later and Steve and I are both, of course, still raw. The property seems empty, as if one of the most vital parts is missing and it is...Zoe.
P.S. This may not be the perky blog post you expected to read on a website selling products to help dogs have better lives, but I consider each one of you extended dog family. Thank you for being here and understanding how hard it is to say goodbye.