Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our most loyal companion

Today I made the most difficult decision of my adult life.  Our sweet girl Aspen was put to sleep today after 12 wonderful years of companionship.  We got Aspen when we were newly married and a litter of wriggly black and tan pups entered the veterinary technician program I was a part of.  I took three home that first night for fun and Jeremy asked if we could keep one.  She stole our hearts from the first moment she entered our lives.  She was our first baby and we doted on her and took her everywhere we went.  She moved to Virginia from Utah with us, riding in my little red Saturn with our cat, Anya, as Jeremy and I rode in his little Chevy truck pulling them behind us and over the Rocky Mountains and through the Kansas plains.  We snuck our fur babies into hotels along the way.  Aspen loved to play ball and would chase it for as long as we were willing to throw it, faithfully bringing it back and dropping it at our feet every time.  She loved the water and the snow.  We looked forward to snowy mornings when the white blanket outside was untouched and we could let her out to dive over and over in the piles of snow.  She welcomed each of our children home from the hospital, giving me a look of "really, another one?" each time.  With each baby she went down a rung on the totem pole and accepted her lot in life with grace.  The babies got older and crawled on her and claimed her toys as their own, pulled her tail and tipped her food bowl.  And all the while she was gentle and loving to them.  There will never be a more well behaved dog, Aspen was the most obedient dog I've ever met, learning cool tricks like rolling over and perfecting her "stay" for long stretches at a time.  We had beds for her on each level of the house where she would lay on the closest one to the rest of us, or mainly me.  She knew I was her master and followed me everywhere.  The boys would often want her to come with them downstairs and she would not budge until I came too.  As a young dog she had terrible separation anxiety and would nervously pace the house until we came home, with accidents to greet us and let us know she was not happy.  We crated her every time we left the house after that and she was fine.  Soon after we moved to Virginia, Aspen developed epilepsy, and had seizures every so often even with the medication she was on for them.  The boys were always so kind to her during a seizure and would whisper "it's ok, Aspen, don't be scared" until she came out of it.  The boys adored her.  They would fight over who got to hold her leash on walks or sit by her in the back of the car.  Gavin never grew out of crawling all over her and was often found snuggling up to his beloved pup.  She really was the best dog we could ever have, our first day in our current house we showed her which rooms she was allowed in and which ones she was not and we only had to show her that once, she never crossed the thresholds.  She never jumped up on people or chewed things she shouldn't, and she never needed a leash outside, she would stay by your side and come when she was called.  She deserved better than what we gave her but we feel so lucky to have had her as a part of our family.

Aspen has been peeing in the house a lot in these last few months.  We've tried 4 different medications and nothing has worked, in fact, it has gotten worse.  She's also been battling some kind of respiratory bug that the antibiotics are not working for anymore.  And then Friday she didn't want to eat her breakfast and refused her treats.  Even this morning I cooked her up some sausage that she turned her nose up at.  We've done bloodwork and an ultrasound and some other tests but nobody could find an answer.  It was time.  I told the boys last night that we had decided to do this and it was so hard.  Cameron took it the hardest and kept telling us that we could try something else that might work.  He went to bed crying and woke up the same way.  Gavin has had bouts of tears off and on and just wanted to make sure we took some pictures of her to remember her by.  Mason keeps asking how she gets up to heaven.  We took her to the park this morning to throw the ball to her- one of her favorite things.  She didn't even want to go get it.  It was time.  Jeremy and I are beside ourselves not only with our own grief but feeling so awful about what this has done to the children.  I have been surprised at how much emotion Jeremy has shown throughout this whole process.  He really loved her too.  She took Jeremy and I from a couple to a family and taught us how to be good parents.  We potty trained her first and woke up with her in the night before the little humans came along.  She taught us so well.   I just hope she knew how much we loved and adored her.  There will never be another one like her, never in a million years. We will miss you something awful sweet baby girl.


Kristy said...

Oh, Erika, I am so sorry! I have tears rolling down my cheeks just thinking of that sweet little puppy that I knew and reading those sweet memories you have of her. I know that Britain's remaining time is short--how did it go by so fast?!--and I'm just thinking of how lucky we were for that rascally bunch of puppies that made are lives a little more miserable each morning but that brought us all so much joy by the end. You are in my thoughts and I hope that you guys can find comfort in remembering the many great times you had with Aspen.

Lisa Allen said...

This is a beautiful tribute to Aspen, Erika. I am so very sorry for all of you. You have lost a dear member of your family.

Praying that your hearts heal. Loss is so hard.

Love to you all.


Corri said...

I still remember her as a sweet roly-poly puppy. Where does the time go?

I'm sorry for your loss-- I can understand just a little how hard it must be right now. I think that the pain will go away, just a little each day, until all the happy memories aren't bittersweet anymore-- they'll just be sweet.

Aspen was so lucky to have you-- really, I can tell that you gave her a wonderful life!

Kristen said...

Erika I 'm fighting back the tears. What a hard thing to do! I"m so sorry for you and your family!

Kerri said...

I remember when she came in the Clinic for the first time. it sounds like she grew up to be an amazing part of your family. I am so sorry that you had to say goodbye. That is such a tough decision to make. Thanks for sharing, your post really touched my heart.

Anonymous said...

Your post made me cry (and I'm not even a dog lover). Your Aspen was something special and I'm so sorry for your loss. Your boys will always remember her as their beloved childhood pet. How lucky they are to have such sweet memories. Wish I was there to give you a hug.