I’d heard talk of my annual veterinary visit. She’d put it on her calendar. And when something went on THE calendar, the one sitting on her big desk next to that big lit up screen, it is going to happen. I’m fine. Actually feeling great since they give me this pill twice a day that keeps my weight down and my energy up. Thyroid. I don’t know what it means, but my favorite visitor, Grandma who brings me treats, she takes a thyroid pill, too. And she’s full of energy.
The morning of the vet appointment had arrived. I jumped in the car ready for the visit. Shots. There was talk of shots. I sat nervously in the front seat and then jumped to the back, thinking I might be forgotten back there. Soon I knew that was not so when the window next to me went down a bit. We pulled into the parking lot, and before the windows went up, my nose tickled with a familiar scent. I got out of the car and took in more of the scents. NO. No I did not want to go in that building. Death had arrived. I did not want to be there. Death lingered near that familiar scent. Pushing and pulling, I finally went in, but my nerves were so bad I couldn’t sit still. I shivered and panted. Told to calm down, patted, and hugged, nothing helped. Fear consumed me. Something in that backroom held a familiar scent, and Death shrouded over it. I considered barking and making a big deal, but I preferred to leave. When a cat arrived, I pretended to want to chase it thinking I could then bolt out the door. Instead, the leash tightened.
A nurse came out and sweetly said my name. Prompted to move, I stood firm. Practically carried into the room for the doctor to give me my physical, I panted heavily and shook non-stop. Closer now, the familiar scent grew stronger.
“What’s wrong with you, Pebbles?” my owner and dearest being asked. “I’ve never seen you like this,” she said, patting me. “Calm down,” she held my face.
If I could cry the tears would’ve been there. If I could speak, the words would’ve been heard. All I could do is shake, pant, and look at the door with the hope of escaping.
The vet arrived. Her voice sweet and caring, she coaxed me over to her. Next, I was placed on the slippery, shiny platform and weighed. My weight is good, the vet had said. Trying for a heartbeat, my owner had to hold me. “I’m sorry. I’ve never seen her this upset. Maybe it’s because she’s getting older.” The vet managed, though I can’t imagine how, ‘cause I thought once my heart leaped out of my skin. SHOTS. Here come the shots. I didn’t care. Shots were nothing compared to what was going on behind that door to the back room. Shots meant I’d have a chance at a healthier life. And Death was behind that door.
“She’s taking these shots great,” the vet said. “Her teeth look really good.”
My owner took me off the platform and hugged me. “Pebbles, hear that? You have healthy teeth. That means you’re a healthy girl.”
Though my heart was pounding loudly, I did hear and more than that I saw in her eyes the love and happiness she had at that moment. For a second, I forgot why I’d been in such a state of shattered nerves.
“Come on, lets get those nails cut,” the vet said.
Nails cut. I’d have to go in that back room. I sat and refused to move my 61-pound body.
“Pebbles, you’re just getting your nails trimmed,” my owner said. Her voice sharpened. “Come on, let’s go.” She pulled, but I did not budge.
No. I couldn’t go back there. I’m sorry. I wish it weren’t so. Truly I do, but I can’t stand to see and… I’d been pushed, and the door closed quickly behind me. Lowering my head, I wished my keen sense of smell would diminish just for the few minutes it took to get my nails trimmed. I looked away. The nurse held my head and talked to me. I didn’t listen. I wanted to be done.
My heart faltered, Death flew past me and stopped where my sibling lay. Yes, the familiar scent was that of my sister from the same litter our mom bore just over nine years ago. She’d been the one Death came for behind the door. I barked. At first I wanted Death to leave her be, but I heard the talk. That she’d been in pain. Her organs shut down, and nothing could be done. I barked again, saying goodbye and wishing her a safe trot over the bridge to doggie heaven.
I returned to my owner, calmer.
“Happy to have those nails cut,” she said.
After paying we walked out and she turned to hold the door for my litter sibling’s owner. A young man with tears in his eyes and a leash wrapped in his hand. I took in her scent, knowing she’d gone peacefully and now trotted aimlessly full of joy across a great field, one that never ended.
My owner knew. “Awe, you’re sister, Tippy, didn’t make it. But she’s not in pain any more and is where she needs to be.”
I wagged my tail. She hugged me. On the drive home, I stuck my head out the window and looked up to the sky, taking in the fresh air for me and Tippy.
*Footnote: This story, though told through my dog, Pebbles’, point of view, is based on fact. My heart goes out to Tippy’s family over their loss.