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In our lives we face many choices.
Some choices are hard, some are easy. As children we seldom have to face the hard choices of life, but with age they tend to appear. This is part of life, but that doesn’t mean we need to embrace it.
On April 27th, 2010 my chocolate lab turned ten years old. She was an old girl now but she still was, as I called her, my Puppy. For nearly her whole life my pup, Maxine, had always been by my side. Most people form bonds with their pets but to be ‘Maxie’ was more than a mere animal, she was my sister.
Just before I started kindergarten me and my (human) sister, Danielle, were sitting on the porch at my aunt’s new house. When our parents pulled into the driveway to pick us up the last thing we expected came bounding into our laps; a small brown puppy that instantly became part of the family. From that day on I always had someone there for me.
As I grew up Maxie grew beside me, so much so that at one point in time we were the same height if she stood on her hind legs. From the very beginning we had a great relationship. She always knew if I was upset or angry. She knew if I needed someone to hug, or if I needed to be left alone. Even as I matured, and she aged, she was still there for me.
So it was odd when the tables turned.
My mom had just returned home from a business trip right around Maxie’s birthday and she saw something neither me nor my dad noticed. See, Maxie had a skin condition. She had been losing her hair and her skin was dry. We tried our hardest to help her skin heal but to no avail. My mom, having been gone about a week, noticed instantly how much worse Maxie looked compared to how appeared just days before.
On April 28th we took Maxie to the vet to see what they could do.
We thought she was okay. I knew she was okay. The vet could find no reason to why her skin was so bad, and so they took blood and urine samples to try to find something internal, but we had reason to believe she was fine. We went home and I spent the night, as I had nearly every night for ten years, with my Puppy.
When something went wrong and I was sad Max’s head was in my lap, even with old age weakening her legs she still would struggle onto my bed to lay with me, and if I was happy my dog bounded beside me. She was always there.
If anything I know now I was able to repay the favor.
The vet had called my mom. Maxie knew something was wrong. I was pacing and tears streamed my face. My mom told me that Maxie was sick.
The test didn’t show anything specific, but either way we knew now that her body was failing her. Everything just passed right through her system, she was losing weight rapidly, her urine was water, and it wouldn’t be long until the rest of her body began to give. We learned that she had some kind of sickness her whole life, but she had always been healthy and fought it. It was her old age, which hit her hard and fast, that lost her the fight.
It took some time, she was reluctant, but we got Maxie into the car and to the vet again. She knew something bad was happening, in a way, I almost think she knew exactly what was happening. My sister met my dad, mom, and I at the vet and the four of us, along with Maxie, were put in a small and dim lit room.
It was horrible. I never felt more pain. This was my decision to bring her here. Mom told me the situation, and I chose what to do. It wouldn’t be long until she would start to hurt though, and I couldn’t put her through that. Because of this it was there on April 29th, just two days after turning ten years old, that Maxine Yenser was put to sleep.
With her whole family there to say good-bye Maxie slipped into a permanent sleep in my arms. I had a minute alone to say goodbye myself, I thanked her for always being there and said the same thing to her that I said every night for years, “Night girl.” Then, simply, I went home and cried.
This time without my Puppy to comfort me.
In our lives we face many choices. I made the hardest decision of my life, one that tore me apart inside, but I made my choice to keep something, someone, I loved dearly from suffering. I’m not happy about it and I never will be, but I know what I did was right. It was a hard choice to make and I think it really matured me to have dealt with such a situation, as well as opened my eyes to some of the cruel realities this world holds. I suppose we just need to find the silver lining in a bad thing sometimes. Mine was, and is, that I kept my loved one from pain and that I got to hold her and say goodbye, I got to be there for her when she needed me. I know in a way Maxine will always be with me. No matter what other decisions and heartbreak may lay ahead I will always be able to look back and think of her.