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Part of being a writer is accepting that at times you will have to bare the deepest depths of your soul and admit you fucked up.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Most people deal with it in their groups of family and friends.  Writers though, boy we aren’t happy until will give the world the chance to prosecute out every little move to the fullest.

I fucked up.

Some of you are aware that we lost our little dog a few months ago.  Thinking of her brings me to tears, so you can imagine that she is not a subject I have been able to discuss.  Friday was the first time that I had heard the beau say her name in months.  We both know what happens when we talk about her.  This sink hole in our souls opens up and swallows us.  There are just too many elements of her loss.

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Sadness.  She was only three years old. I can still feel the weight of her lifeless body in my arms.  Her lanky legs dangling just below my grip.  I can still see her pupils dilating as she let go of the fight and waved her white flag.  Dear God, why did I let myself hope.  I knew the outcome, I knew where this scenario was going.  I knew that there was 99% chance at the end of this I would be holding an empty collar.  I would be going through her toys, her clothes, her treats and handing them out for other people to use with their dogs.  The dogs who were living unlike Presleigh who was now gone.  No more little chews, no more wrestling matches with stuffed animals, no more.

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Responsibility.  I wasn’t even going to make that damn cake that day.  I left work and decided to stop by the store.  It made more sense to make it Saturday afternoon.  That left my Sunday free for my regular household chores.  The recipe called for mini semisweet chocolate chips for the icing.  I was a total cheap ass and I was just going to use the regular size ones that I had at home in the cabinet.  At the last minute, I went back to the baking aisle and picked up the bag of mini chocolate chips.  I baked the cake that afternoon and left it on the counter to cool.  My plan was to make the icing when we came back from dinner.  Before we left the house, I moved my wool dryer balls out of the laundry basket and put them in the dryer.  Presleigh had been trying to play with them and I didn’t want her to tear them up.  This seems completely ridiculous now in the face of what happened.  I was so damned worried about her tearing up those dryer balls.  We were getting in the car to leave and my OCD kicked in.  I had to go back in once to verify I had turned off the oven.  Didn’t want the house to catch on fire and hurt the animals.  Then I went back a second time to check to make sure I blew out the candle on the piano.  How in the hell could I have not thought about getting those chocolate chips off of the counter?  She had climbed the kitchen counter in the past to pull down her treats or her chews to gorge herself silly.  I left that whole damn bag sitting there, a crinkly bag that smelled good to her.  A crinkly bag like all of her treats, it smelled sweet like her cranberry apple dog biscuits.  Of course, it made all the sense in the world to her to get that bag and stuff her face with the contents.  It was three times the toxic levels of chocolate and caffeine for her and I left it there where she could get it.  How could I be so flipping irresponsible?  How could I turn a blind eye to that and hid out the door, when I had already double checked the house twice before we left?  If I hadn’t proved myself inadequate for motherhood before, damned if I didn’t accomplish it this time. Someone who poisons their dog certainly couldn’t keep a baby alive.

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Guilt.  As a veterinary technician, this event has certainly made me step back and analyze if this is where I really belong.  I basically killed my dog.  If she was a person, I would be sitting in court awaiting sentencing for involuntary manslaughter I’m sure.  My job is to save animals, to make them comfortable, to make them happy.  Presleigh spent her last twenty two hours poked and prodded, vomiting and having diarrhea, away from my beau (who really was her favorite person on Earth, my mom had said that he must know how Justin Beiber feels, crazy little girl, screaming in the window every time he pulled up in the driveway).  She just wanted to be home with him, but instead she was hooked up to IV fluids and probably felt like her heart was about to beat out of her chest with the tachycardia she was experiencing.  My job was to keep her safe and happy, and I failed.  How am I supposed to go to work everyday and take care of pets knowing that I allowed my dog to suffer?  I wasn’t proactive enough and I let her come to an awful demise.    I see my guilt in my patients’ eyes.  I see that I’m not good enough.  I see that I failed Presleigh.

Like this isn’t all awful enough, Presleigh had been having awful relapses in her ‘schizophrenia’ since Christmas.  Presleigh’s first year of life is unknown to me, other than a few broken homes and a history for lashing out.  Was it her breed?  Was it abuse?  Was it a disorder?  Who knows.  She was possessive and distrusting.  She would be fine one minute and then be a biting little land shark the next.  She had done really well for quite some time with very few instances of relapse.  Between December 25 and into April she attacked me four times.  I’m not talking a nip, you would have thought she was a wild animal had you witnessed it.  It always resulted in me washing my bloody hands and crying over the bathroom sink, sputtering out the words, “I just want her to be a normal dog.”

One of the times she almost had my face, and would have if the beau hadn’t snatched her up.  I told Presleigh after every attack, that the only thing keeping me from euthanizing her was the rabies test.  I could not bring myself to have the health department come pick up her head.  Fourteen days later, when it would have been completely legal, I would be over it.  She would be well behaved until the next time.  Luckily, working with animals no one ever questioned why I would have open wounds on my fingers, bruises all over my hands.  I’m sure if anyone even noticed them, they were discounted as ‘part of the job’.  No one knew the struggles I was going through with Presleigh.  And all I have now, is thinking about every  one of those times I threatened to euthanize her for her attacks.  I probably would have never done it, I would have kept fighting the behavioral fight.  But, she heard it.  She knew I said those things and I wonder if she thought about that in the end.  If she looked past me adopting her (even when I knew the biting history and all the other aggression baggage that was coming along with her), past all the care I gave her, past all the time I was understanding, all the times I gave her leeway, all the times I told her I loved her.  If she forgot about how we would nap on the couch, read on the porch, snuggle in the morning over a cup of coffee.  What if that is the only thing she thought about until she was comatose?

I don’t know when I’ll be right.  I know that every day has a tendency to hurt.  I hear our other dog’s tags jingle and I look for her.  When I drop food on the kitchen floor, I start to yell at her to leave it alone and she’s not there.  Preparing any meal with asparagus is like a knife to the gut.  I can still here her begging for the ends of asparagus I was going to throw away.  That dog loved asparagus.  When I walk our other dog, I pray not t see any neighbors because I know they’re going to ask, “Where’s Presleigh?”

Where’s Presleigh … she’s gone.  She’s gone somewhere, a place that I hope she can still hear my apologies.  I’m so sorry Presleigh, I let you down.  I fucked up, Presleigh, I really fucked up.

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April 13, 2011 on Facebook
There’s moments when Presleigh is into absolutely EVERYTHING, barking at neighbors, growling at people in drive-thru … that I say I cannot believe I have done this to myself. And then I wake up in the morning and she is tucked underneath the blanket beside me sleeping with the happiest look on her face … that taking on a psychotic dog with no manners seems all worth it.

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8 thoughts on “Sadness. Responsibility. Guilt.

  1. Mel I’m so sorry for your loss. I wish I had some magic words to take your guilt away. I hope you have some comfort in knowing she lived a longer life because of you, because you took her on even with her challenges and continued to care for and love her through the biting.

    1. Thanks Jill. I think it’s going to just take time, and probably some on again off again therapy with cotton candy vodka in cherry 7UP. That’s what one of my doctors said at work. He reminded me that if I hadn’t took her home two years ago that she would have gone to the pound and would have been euthanized then.

    1. Thank you Kathryn for your comment and for joining my blog. My grandmother emailed me after this and told me a story about my uncle eating a bottle of baby Aspirin when he was a small child. She said the police showed up and escorted them to the hospital. She wanted to let me know that these kinds of accidents happen to everyone, which was really nice because sometimes I think it is hard for my grandparents to understand that my pets are like my kids. Her words made me feel like she understood how big this situation was. (It’s not that my grandparents don’t like dogs, my grandfather is highly allergic, so they just haven’t ever had the bond with pets like I have).

  2. Oh Mel… I’m so sorry. I feel your pain, this made me think of Baby. I still feel awful.. but know that what happened to Presleigh was NOT your fault. You are an excellent pet mom, and the best LVT I know.. I know that may not seem like much but you shouldn’t blame yourself. Presleigh I’m sure was not thinking of your empty threats from the past, she loved you and was most likely thinking of cuddling in the couch or your walk. Any pet that has crossed its path with yours is lucky just to have been talked to by you.

    1. Susan, you are the absolute sweetest. There are fifty thousand words the two of us could share on this, but then I’ll start crying! I can’t imagine how many typos are in this post because I couldn’t bring myself to go back and edit it. Hopefully we can get together one day and have a drink to toast our crazy dogs that have left us.

  3. I know that this is hard to believe, but Presleigh’s death was not your fault. As all parents (dog or otherwise) will tell you, it doesn’t matter how much you plan, protect and bubble wrap your babies, accidents happen. We can’t protect them from everything, we can just appreciate the short time we have with our adopted “children” and hope to make lasting memories with them while they’re here. Sending good thoughts and cuddly feelings your way.

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