Note:  I wrote this on June 8, but hadn’t been able to proofread it until today.  It was still hard to do without shedding a lot of tears.

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Baby passed on a week ago today.  Anytime I’ve ever had to take a pet to the veterinarian for the final time, it is excruciating.  An absolute emotional downslide.  This time, though, was the worst experience of this distinction in my life.

I often know things before I will consciously acknowledge them.  I knew Baby was overdue on departing this life for the next, but I kept asking her to hang on a little longer.  I was hoping she would be around on her 14th birthday, but one month and 4 days after her 13th, it was well overdue time.

I headed into Memorial Day weekend, though, with that as the last thought in my mind.  I had lots of gardening to do.  It was 2 o’clock on Friday afternoon, and I was at a nursery being driven around by an employee when I got out of the cart to pick up a plant and realized I was on for an acute attack of muscle spasms.  Mine is the type that clenches my abdomen, expands into my back, and creates a very difficult body in which to stand straight.  This time, I was not even able to bend over to lift one of my Croc shoes off the floor.  There was absolutely no way I could even lift Baby up to a standing position, to steer her outside for her to take care of business.  I could barely toss kibble to my dogs for dinner.  It was hour after hour of a nightmarish weekend.  I was on a 3-day diet of muscle relaxers, pain killers and antacid.  I asked Baby to just release what she had to release on her bed.  I always kept double or triple thick dog blankets on it and this time I had two towels I was able to tuck under her.

It was Monday night when I finally had any ability to lift her.  I kept a harness on her and under her back end, a wrap.  I connected both ends with a leash, so I could lift her and hold her up as she moved along.  When I lifted her this time, she had no control over her paws anymore.  Her legs dangled like limp strands of spaghetti.   I put her back down next to her bed, and added a clean sheet I got from the laundry.  I wouldn’t let what just happened sink in till I tried again.  But the same thing happened.  Baby was completely paralyzed.

I put her down on the bed, and she immediately let go, and peed all over the clean sheet and towels.  I know that had to be hard for her.  All I could do was change out the messy covers and give her a sponge bath.   Then I got my cell phone out and gasped a message onto my vet’s voicemail that I needed an appointment the following day for the inevitable.  It was a heart wrenching voicemail.  When I was in the middle of leaving it,  I thought I’d never get the next word out.  I wished I hadn’t started, but I didn’t want to go through explaining that again, so I finished and hung up.  The next morning I got a call from the office that I could bring Baby in as the last appointment.

I cleared it with my boss that I was going to take that afternoon and the next day off.

I spent the afternoon on the floor, with Baby.  I wanted to pull her outside, so we could spend some time in the grass, but I was still in bad shape, and I had to be able to get her out of the house and into the back seat of the truck, so I stayed with her near her bed.   When I got up to do something, knowing that I could run back into the living room to pet Baby’s soft neck and behind her ears was so very comforting.  I would run in and feel her every time I realized these were the last hours of our life here together.   I cried hard.  The other dogs were so good.  They knew something was up and gathered around her.

Two dogs in particular took a turn right by Baby’s head.  Dudley the Aussie and Luna the Dobie.   They are both loving souls.  Luna and Baby used to play together, and that says something for Luna.  Baby was very picky on her playmates.  She loved to play with Luna.  Ollie was her boy, as she and he were the only two for a year or so.  I adopted Ollie partly for a playmate for Baby.

Dudley, the little Aussie, was at Baby’s head, too.  He is just a little bundle of love, and between him and Luna, Baby got her fill of kisses on her face.  Raven even laid in front of Baby, and kept watch at a distance.  They all knew Baby was ailing.

In between petting Baby, I pulled out the Furminator and brushed as much hair as I could from Baby’s neck.  She enjoyed the attention, and I’m not so sure if she minded my cutting a few of her whiskers.  But I did.

When the time grew near, I told her friends to say so long and put them in their crates.  I then padded the back seat and with all the might I had, I lifted Baby out of the house and pushed her up onto the back seat till she was lying across it comfortably.

I went back in the house to grab my purse, camera, and the bag of meat I had pulled off the bones of the grilled Costco chicken in the fridge.  I actually did it earlier, and put that baggie in the freezer so it would not melt so much in the heat from now till then.  Baby loved grilled Costco chicken.  Whenever I brought that home, she would chop her jaws at me and pester me with woofs and chops till she got some.  In the end days, when she couldn’t get up, she would do the same thing, but louder and from her bed in the living room.  She always won.  Even with the other dogs right under me, I would carry Baby the chicken and leave the others drooling.  Baby has my heart and 13 years, some of them really tough years.  I’d fed her some chicken that afternoon, as the others watched, and I’d hoped somehow they’d understand why she was getting so much and they were getting none.

The ride over to the vet’s was hard.  I don’t have a better word.  I talked to her, worked on driving through South Florida rush hour traffic, and heard her cry and bark.  I knew she was hurting, so perhaps that softened what was to come a little bit, but the fact I was losing her was too big.  I sang to her, and recorded some of what we were doing in the truck on that drive on my Flip camera.  One song in particular that I was singing, I knew I’d forget, so I recorded a part of it.  And I was right.  Even now I can’t remember any part of it except there was that all important word in it – Baby.

We arrived at the vets and there were quite a few cars in the parking lot.  The appointment was for 5:30 and we arrived at 5:20.  I wanted to call to tell them to come out after everyone else had gone, but I knew the phone was on the voice mail by now.  I thought I’d just wait till the cars left, and I opened the truck doors.  Baby was in the back seat, and when I opened the doors to sit on the side with her, the heat was just unbearable.  So I closed the doors and went back up front till I realized I would have to go in there to get Baby in so I could spend some time with her because it wasn’t going to work this way.

I walked inside with my sunglasses on and when I got to the counter, I only had to say a few words and the woman behind the counter grabbed by hand and squeezed it and told me she would get someone to help me in with Baby.  A young man came out and he got Baby out of the back seat.  I told him to be careful of her neck, and he managed to hold her like the baby she is and went forward.  I had to shut the truck up, so was yelling for him to wait.

I caught up with him and as we walked in, I was bawling.  I know the other people in the main room could relate to my sorrow, but I was very glad to get behind the door.  We had a Japanese style wall, which was paper on one side.  I wanted to sing to Baby, but I couldn’t even collect my voice to do so.

Instead, I got her comfortable on the floor.  She was on a rug and the blanket from the truck was under her.  I managed to hoist myself onto the floor and spent the hour or so talking to her, petting her, and feeding her the chicken in the bag.  I saved one big piece for when the time came.   I settled down and Baby had a running nose and I knew then just how worn out she was.  The only joy she had left was eating that chicken.  She couldn’t scratch or lick herself, couldn’t shake, or wag her tail, she could only bark a little and whine a little.  She was ready to depart.  More, still, than I was ready to let her go.

The vet came in and I explained to her how Baby was my special dog.  My heart dog.  That she and I had come to Florida together, neither knowing anyone else.  That had been 13 years ago.  She put the stint in Baby’s back leg.  It was tough going, as Baby had very low blood pressure, the vet said, and Baby’s back legs had a lot of muscle atrophy because she could not use them much.   Baby was a bit uncomfortable with the needle part, she looked back and I felt for her, but it was something unavoidable.  All I could do is comfort her.

The vet took twice to get the stint in, and I was as relieved as Baby, who knew nothing of what was coming, just that the needle pricking had stopped.  I reminded the vet several times to tell me when to give her the chicken, so she said to go ahead and give it to her now.  I said aloud, “I can’t believe this is the last time I will ever give her some of my chicken.”

When I asked if I could listen to her heart after it was done, the vet told me there was no need to because she used four times as much as is needed for the process.  As she pushed the fluid into Baby I watched as she slowly dozed off until she relaxed into death.  That’s when I looked up and around as if I could see her spirit move out of her.  I couldn’t, but the vet said “Where do they go?”

I shook my head.  Then we talked about a lot of things including when I had to put Sweet Pea to sleep.  She also said that one of her clients mentioned that her dog was the only one who ever saw her dance naked.  We can let our hair down around our dogs and not be judged.

After it was over, the vet went to get two sheets to wrap Baby in.  She didn’t put her in a plastic garbage bag, and I was ever so thankful for that.  She would put her body in the freezer over night, and I would pick her up in the morning.  And I left.  For the first time I was on my way without my Baby.  I can’t remember my drive home.  I do know I was more at ease than I’d ever been after having to euthanize a pet of mine due to the way the vet treated me and Baby.

The next morning I picked up Baby; Ollie and I did.  I left him in the front seat, Baby in the back, with the air conditioning on while I went to the little nursery in the back of the vet’s home and bought a red blooming hibiscus tree in Baby’s honor.  She is a red flower through and through.  She’s a Diva, and I know the Diva color is red.

Baby was cremated, and her ashes are now in a honey colored wood box in my living room.  The box revolves, so I can see all four of its  sides.  Each side has favorite pictures of Baby.  I have downloaded many songs to remind me of her, but I leave you with the lyrics to a song Baby used to howl along with me as I sung.

Baby

Misty
Johnny Mathis

Look at me
I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree
And I feel like I’m clinging to a cloud
I can’t understand
I get misty just holding your hand

Walk my way
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your hello
That music I hear
I get misty the moment you’re near

You can say that you’re leading me on
But it’s just what I want you to do
Don’t you notice how hopelessly I’m lost
That’s why I’m following you

On my own
Would I wander through this wonderland alone
Never knowing my right foot from my left
My hat from my glove
I’m too misty, and too much in love

One Response to “My Beloved Bahamian Baby”

  1. Ellen Finch says:

    Oh, I just now read this. I’m so sorry about Baby. Like everyone else who has lost a special pet, I know so well the feelings that you went through, and I also know that, like everyone else, what we feel and think is completely different from what anyone else experiences. Rest well, Baby; you obviously were well-loved and loved well.