Several years ago, when we were sorting through our attic stuff to move to Michigan, we came across the Orange shoebox. Just seeing the shoebox will cause us to give pause. Makaila, our beloved golden retriever and Genny’s childhood best friend, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. As her health deteriorated we, as a family, gave her the best week ever. The week was filled with her favorite things and foods. Our Idaho vet has a cool program where you can have your dog cremated and scattered at a local Christmas tree farm. It was beautiful and fitting.
This shoebox has become this heavy thing which we carry through life, but cannot part with, nor would we want to. This shoebox seemed like such a solitary life weight, until last August anyway. After five years alone, we had to add another shoebox. My beautiful dog Paisley hid her cancer so well that when we realized she was sick, she had such a short amount of time left. We did not have the time to afford her best week so we settled for a really awesome best day. Both of our girls had loved peanut butter pancakes, soft serve vanilla ice cream and car rides, so we said tear-filled-smiling adventures with those.
The loss of Paisley hit me so hard and I was left with a gaping hole. Seven months later I stumbled upon a listing for a litter of puppies in southern Illinois. I’d wanted a beagle for as long as I could remember. I knew that, as I approached this new chapter of life, the companionship of a dog would really make the difference.
I fell in love with the last of these little puppies. He, my Mr. Knightley, was instantly smitten with me. He loved me almost immediately and though he wasn’t quite Paisley shaped, he was Knightley shaped and come to find out- I needed that hole filled too. It was early on that we learned his beginnings had been less than ideal. He was so young and required a lot of attention and love. The first five-week that he was mine found me with very little sleep. Most nights he snuggled into my neck and chest while I just held him tight and soaked his puppy goodness into my soul. It seemed as though my little snuggle puppy could not get close enough, and I was all too happy to comply.
As time passed it become clear that our Mr. Knightley- my Mr. Knightley– was going to have a bit of a tough time. About 5 weeks ago he had a traumatic experience with growing pains in his back left leg. The ordeal left both Gen and I pretty severely bitten and him very shaken up. We forged through it though, and fell even more in love with him. About two weeks ago it seemed the growing pains were at it again. He received a soft diagnosis of Panosteitis and an appointment to follow-up was scheduled for two this past Tuesday. We were encouraged to keep his movement limited, and just love on him and as comfortable as we could.
Tuesday did not go well. A full blood panel was done and Wednesday morning found me sobbing on the phone, with the results. His kidneys were not working. His other organs were compromised. The kidney thing wasn’t new, they’d likely always been damaged. We were encouraged to not let any time pass, as he was suffering immensely.
My adorable little blue-tick beagle Knightley, with the black heart on his left side, did not get the luxury of a best-week-ever, or even a best day. He got to lay on my chest, breathing turned shallow over night, content to just be with me. We were at a loss with how to love him in special ways as he wasn’t eating and we’d only had three months with him, and many days within those months had been struggles. We weren’t sure what his best things ever would even be, except one… The boy loved his puppacinos. For eleven minutes of that forever-long car ride, that sweet little puppy was beside himself with joy.
His heart and body gave out as they injected the sedative, prior to euthanization. One moment he whimpered, staring into my love filled eyes, and the next he was running free and playing somewhere far more heavenly. This afternoon I gathered his tiny collar and his favorite chew toys into a shoebox. Another shoebox, another hole. An empty home and painfully empty arms. For three months and seven days I was deeply connected to this sweet little baby boy, and now I am not.
Goodbye sweet boy.