It's Time

It’s time…Words you never want to hear and especially ever want to say.  When we got the first family dog, my kids were young, and they needed a companion, or so I thought.  After the newness had worn off, the dog belonged to me.  It was during a very difficult time in my life.  I was divorced, and my son Bradley lived with me.  We kept the home and continued to live there for many years, bringing Elaine and her kids into our clan after four years of single life.

“Patches” was a black and white party color Cocker Spaniel, small, cute and loveable.  I never really knew how much I loved her until it was “that time.”  When Bradley would visit his mother, and I was left alone, Patches would sit with me on the couch in the living room and in the dark we would share a bottle of Chardonnay or should I say, she would watch me. 

As I pondered life, Patches would lay her head in my lap and comfort me.  This always happened several ways whether it was her large eyes, her head in my lap or just the presence of something that loved me more than herself.  I will never forget Patches and the beauty and loyalty she had.  When Elaine and I married, Patches was not her favorite thing.  Patches was a lot like Dutchess, but one-way in particular was her interest in the garbage can.  On more than one occasion, Patches would get into the trash and look for something to eat.  Sound familiar?  I was at work and got a call from Elaine, and she said, “Patches needs to go, I’m tired of cleaning up after her.”  I was distressed and told my cousin about the conversation that day, and she said only one thing.  “you can always get another wife.”  Elaine was not amused but soon found out the love that a dog can give you.  Soon after, Elaine and Patches became best friends for ever and ever, and Elaine was the last thing she ever saw...

After retirement, we both work for a veterinarian, she was the office manager, and I was the guy in the back.  It was a great job, and I would encourage anyone to have that experience with animals.  I learned so much, and the Vet was a teaching Vet that taught me many things and the love of animals.

Cocker Spaniels have chronic ear problems, and Patches was no different.  We were able to stay on top of it, but it became too much to handle when she was a senior dog, and I heard the words, “there's nothing more we can do.”  It was time.  During lunch, we brought Patches up to the exam room as we have many times before but this time was different.  We had her at the Vet for some more care that day and made the decision because we could do nothing more.   We stroked her face and told her we loved her and when the time came, I couldn’t be there…

Working at the Vet’s office for nearly 5 years, I’ve seen many animals put to sleep.  It was never painful for the animal, sometimes for the owners and sometimes not.  Some people stayed, some left, and I never understood until it was Patches’s time.  I walked out of the exam room telling Elaine I couldn’t be there.  After it was over, I walked back into the room and again stroked her sweet face.  I carried her back to the back room, and we situated her body in a new blanket along with a St Francess of Assie medallion around her neck and neatly wrapped her up.  We had just bought the farm and soon after, she was brought here and buried under a beautiful tree near our entrance,  She was the first to live at our/her home.

Several years ago, I wrote ten insights from a dog’s point of view, and number 10 was because of Patches.

10. Please go with me on “that” difficult journey. Never say: “I can’t watch, it’s too painful.” Everything is easier for me when you are with me, even death, this is when I will need you the most…and then I know you love me as much as I love you. Your face will be the last thing I will ever see…

I let my Patches down after all she gave me.  You see, it was a mistake I can never take back and will always feel the guilt.  Just this last week, several people called asking the question, “when is it time?”  I wouldn’t answer but gave them some personal experience, one part which was “Go into the room with them.” 

“The Dogs of Dogwood Ridge”
Our beloved pets are buried here.  Please honor them and us
By keeping this site sacred.  We would be honored if you chose
To bury your loving pets along with ours…

Buddy and Donna Teague lost their sweet Annie this week and had to make “that” decision.  She was 17 and ½ and lived with them from 3 weeks old until she passed and she was part of their life and very loved.  They were with her when she was put to eternal rest and it was them who she saw last.  They decided that it would be fitting for Annie to come to the farm and be with Clancy and Patches along with a granite plaque to honor her.  I was pleased and her ashes will be placed with our other dogs, and when they come up to see us from Georgia we can give her a special place and be by the sides of our dogs, and we can sit together in the Adirondack Chairs and talk about the best dogs in the world...
Rest in Peace Annie, you will be missed, Run free sweet girl, run free…  Ken

 “By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog.” Jon Katz