Monday, November 21, 2011

One Good Dog

Last week The Fey Family had to say good bye to one good dog. A stranger might have taken one look at our Katie and thought she was a stinky, old mutt of dog... but, to us she was a best friend, protector, and therapist. Adam got her when he was in college, which makes her 14 years old. When Adam left for Afghanistan for 15 months she was my heart and my support. When our kids came along, she didn't seem to mind dropping down a rung or two on our priority list and took her role as protector and playmate pretty serious. She was so gentle and patient with every stage... the crying infant who caused mom to forget to feed her, the terrible toddler who pulled and tugged on her ... the preschooler who was loud, rowdy, bossy, and rough when her joints could least take it. I think she loved my kids almost as much as I do!
Mike was particularly smitten by Katie. Many times she was his best playmate. In the end, he was the one who feed her, took out in the backyard, and even let her sleep under the covers with him. They were two peas in a pod up until the last day. When I told him Katie was going to the doctor and Jesus was going to come get her... he replied "Oh, Jesus will make her better!" Sigh... I told him sometimes Jesus chooses to heal and sometimes He chooses to take the sick home to heaven where they will be happier than ever! I guess because he loved her so much, Mike was okay with this.
I framed this picture of her to put in his room. Everyday he asks me "What are Jesus and Katie doing in Heaven today?" Then we go down a short list of what we think would make her really happy... running at the park, digging up bones, playing at the beach, eating lots of table scraps and treats... even chocolate!
I knew this transition was going to be hard for all of us and I wanted to make sure I did it right. Aside from lots of honest conversation and sincere listening, I came up with a few ideas to help our little family grieve such a big loss...
To honor her and help us all grieve we spent the morning in the backyard with her... it was a lovely day and fun in a sad way... I am pretty sure she knew something was up-lol. It was the first time as parents Adam and I had to really put our own emotions aside and act strong-ish for the kids... I give as a 8, as we tried, but lordy it was hard!
We made her a stepping stone... the kids really enjoyed this. Mike looks at it everyday... this was such a good idea for him. I took her to the vet while they napped so there were no dramatic good byes... (well, until I was in the vet's office where I became a crazy lady). We chose not to bury her in the backyard or even bring home her ashes, as I thought this might be too much and drag out the process. (Several movie scenes ran through my head!)
A friend suggested this Cynthia Rylant book, who happens to be a favorite author of mine. A must read for any child or adult who looses a dog.
The Rainbow Bridge is also a sweet poem to help with the loss of any pet.
In the end I would not change a single thing... Katie had a full happy life and it was time. I think we prepared ourselves well and the kids learned a hard lesson as gently as possible. As for me, I added a new chapter in my parenting hand book... you know, one of those horrible mom moments when it plain old sucks, but can't be avoided, or hidden anyway. Don't get me wrong we did consider the "Katie went to live on farm" story, but she deserved more and really so did we. Replacing her with a puppy was pretty much never even considered-ha! Will miss her dearly and cherish all the sweet and funny memories we have. In the words of a 4 year old "She was my best dog ever and ever!"

Let's go make something,

Kristy

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