Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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Night Night Perla

The past day and half has been tough. The past 8 hours have been agonizing. I sit here trying to write this post but the tears are making it hard. Perla is gone. If you have a pet you absolutely adore, make sure to give them a big hug and kiss as soon as you can. If you aren't a pet person then just ignore this post.
Perla was my dog for 16.5 years. She was my friend, my confidante, my sweet, sweet companion. I had her for more than half of my life. She went through puberty, dating, moving, marrying, and having a child with me. She was a constant in the midst of a life that was sometimes everything but. Although her barking would annoy me and having to clean up pee every morning was something that aggravated me, I loved her immensely. These were the little annoyances I dealt with because I had her to remind me of what it felt like to be loved unconditionally. She was my dog and she knew it.

Monday night I noticed that her bruising was back. Alex checked her Sunday and she was bruise-free. I gave her steroid in hopes that it would kick start the healing process like it had done so many times in the past. This time, her body resisted, the bruising got worse and she spent all of yesterday being lethargic. She ate, peed, and pooped but was lethargic. I debated taking her to the vet because I secretly thought this was it and because I didn't want to make whatever time she had left be spent in a vet's office doing things that hurt and made her uncomfortable. At night, I couldn't sleep because, again, I felt like this was it. I read my book and kept telling myself, "the next chapter is short so I'll read it and then go to bed." Sometime between 12:30am and 1:00am Perla threw up and peed on herself. I woke Alex and asked him to help me clean. As he cleaned the floor, I cleaned Perla. She was a weak little thing in my arms. Her 10lb body was limp and just hung down from my arms. She was still and I couldn't feel her heart and I asked Alex if she was dead. Her jerking movements proved she was still alive, but just barely. We sat on the floor with her, petted her, told her how much we loved her and that it was ok to go. And she did. Even after she was gone we just kept petting and crying and hoping that her life here with us was as good as it could have been.
I knew I didn't want Cati to wake up and find Perla so at 2:00am I made calls to find out where we could cremate her. We didn't want the ashes and I knew I didn't want to bury her in our backyard. Just the thought of digging a hole, putting her in it, and throwing dirt on her seemed so morbid, especially since this is just our starter home. I drove to the other side of town to a 24-hour vet and there they took her away from me like she wasn't the most special dog in the world. My goodbye was short but I had been saying goodbye all day long.

Perla was just too old. There's only so much her body could take. As weird as it sounds, I couldn't have asked for a better death for her. She wasn't in pain and she went on her own terms with us stroking her soft, curly poodle hair. I'm happy she passed at home instead of at a vet's office and that it was natural versus us making the decision to put her down.
Today begins the struggle. The struggle of going from is to was, of going from living in the present to living in memories. There will be no more barking Perla excited to see me come home. No more beds or little reminders of her physical presence in our home. She had a good life. There were multiple points in her life where I'm sure others would have put her down or given her up. She had plenty of health issues and despite it all she went with us to Boston, came back to Miami, and got to spend nearly 2 years with Cati. That last part is what hurts the most: how do I explain to Cati that Perla is never coming back? I deflected her questions this morning because I have no control over my tears and I don't want Cati to worry but what do I say to her when she realizes she hasn't seen Perla or that she won't be seeing her? How do we make it through a bedtime routine that included giving Perla a kiss? How do we make it through Cati purposefully dropping food so Perla could eat? I just ache all over at the thought.
Now it's finding a new normal. Now it's about being thankful for the time we did have, for feeling lucky enough to have had such a great dog. I will always love Perla, I just can't believe she is actually really gone. I go from feeling guilty (could we have treated her better?) to feeling relieved (at least she died at home and is in a better place) to feeling sad, like there's hole in my heart. Like Alex said this morning, today just feels like a bad dream, one that spilled over from the night and into reality.

Right now, though, I am so thankful for Cati. She is the one thing that will force me to move on. I want a happy daughter and that means I need to be happy. To do that I need to focus on the happy moments, the happy memories, and the imprint of happiness that has been left on my soul as a result of having Perla by my side for as long as I did. She was a good dog and I just hope that she's up in doggy heaven thinking that I was just as good of an owner.
PS Sorry this is so long and sorry if it's all disjointed. I don't have it in me to go back, read, and correct.


Toby said...

So Sorry about Perla... you bought tears to my eyes.

A/K said...

In tears. I'm so sorry for your loss. So glad she could pass in the comfort of her home, your arms.

Teresa said...

So sorry.
I understand your loss. We have two like Perla and we'll feel it the same way.
It's comforting to know that these much loving (and loved) dogs go to a special heaven where they'll live happily ever after.
Feel my hug,

Lindsay said...

I'm so sorry you lost Perla. I know how terribly hard it is to lose a pet you love so much. I'm glad you have Cati to keep you going, that always helps.

Sarah said...

I am so so sorry about Perla's passing. I will be praying for you all, for your comfort and peace of mind.

Lindsey said...

I'm so sorry you lost your doggie! Poor Perla! She was a lucky dog to have such a good momma.

I Sing In The Kitchen said...

Stephanie, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. With all of the change going on in your life I know that this is so unwanted,

Hugs. xxoo

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Perla. I've read your blog for several years and the love you have for Perla is evident. you were a good Mom to her and you'll walk through this with Cati.

I would probably have explained it the same way to my daughter if a beloeved pet died when she was so young but I've heard people say that you shouldn't say the pet went "night-night" as they might then get scared to go night-night. You know Cati better than anyone so you'll know if that's a concern. I don't want to be a meddling old lady but it was something I had never thought of.
Pets are part of the family. I'm so sorry you are hurting.

Mimi said...

Im so sorry to hear about Perla!!

Karen said...

Oh Steph, I am sooooo sorry! Perla was such an amazing puppy, and you were an awesome mommy to her!! Rest in peace, Sweet Girl!!!

Andrea said...

I am so sorry, Steph ... i know how much Perla meant to you. She's watching over you and Cati and everyone, i know ...((hugs))

Stephanie said...

Thank you all for your kind words. It means a lot to me...

Anonymous: I've been saying "Perla bye bye" to Cati and she's the one that responds with "Perla night night." I don't know what the difference is for her but I'm assuming "night night" is an easier concept for her to understand? I don't know. Thankfully, she's had no trouble with going to sleep and there doesn't seem to be any kind of adverse reaction to hearing "night night."

Desi said...

OMG when I read the title I was hoping it didn't mean this!!! I am in tears at my desk right now. I can't believe Perla is gone (sorry I'm late, I know). I remember seeing so many pictures of Perla and Cati... the one that will forever stay in my mind is the one where Cati is holding Perla's back legs up. It made me laugh out loud literally. Sometimes losing a pet can be just as hard as losing a human. Perla was a part of your family. I didn't know that you had her for so long... I know that makes it worse. It's crazy how sometimes pets are with us throughout life longer than so-called friends who come and go. I hope you are recovering without your family member. Rest in doggy heaven, Perla!!!