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For Guinness


In March of 2006 I drove with my mom and friends to south Georgia to pick Guinness out from some bulldog breeders. We met them in a McDonald's parking lot. I watched 8 puppies play and chase while the wife of the breeders smoked cigarettes and the husband made inappropriate comments. I always joked that Guinness was a rescue dog. I saw his little patch over his eye and decided he had to come home with us. I loaded him into the cutest little carrier and we took him home to surprise Sam.

Sam was being distracted by friends and ended up getting in a scooter accident. He came home to tell me his news and was overwhelmed with emotion when he saw mine. Guinness was the cutest puppy. He used to nibble at our toes and had so much energy. We had been married for about a year exactly when we got him. He was born on St Patrick's Day so naturally the name Guinness was a great fit.

Guinness was there with us when we bought our first home, when we had both of our babies, when we lost Sam's parents. He was always there. He was such a good dog. He was gentle with the girls and such a good listener. I never for a second pictured life without him. Now I'm devastated and would give anything to go back and give him more snuggles and walks. I took him for granted many days, his company, the security I felt when he was here, his soft belly and ears, the way he laid his head on my lap. I wish I had been better to him. I let life and motherhood cloud my head, I didn't pay attention to his needs. The intense pain of grief and regret has been unexpected. I've cried a thousand tears. I hear phantom clicking of his paws on the floor, I see him out of the corner of my eye. I wait for his bark when the UPS driver goes past. Nothing. The house is so quiet.

A couple of weeks ago Guinness' eye got really irritated and red. Sam began putting his eye drops in but it got more swollen and hazy. We thought it may be cataracts. Sam took him to the vet and they gave him some drops, it didn't get better. He took him back to the vet and they said it may be a tumor to wait until he could see an optomologist. Last thursday he stopped eating. He ate a little on friday but just would't get off his bed. He was so weak. The weekend came and Sam thought it may be the steroid drops making him sick. He couldn't hold anything down. Monday morning Sam was going to call the vet but after he left for work Guinness got sick over and over until he just lied down in it. I tried to get him to go outside, he just stood in the rain. I begged Sam to turn around and come home. I knew something was wrong. Sam took him to the vet and they said there was a mass in his belly, they'd let us know the next day what the tests showed.

We brought Guinness home, we put him on blankets in front of the fire. I lied down right next to him, weeping begging him to forgive me. Telling him how loved he was. He slept with us, in my gut knowing we wouldn't have much time with him.

We got the results the next day. He had stage five Canine Lymphoma cancer. We made the decision to let him go. He hadn't eaten in almost a week. He was so tired. That drive in the rain to the vet was the hardest thing we've ever done. Neither one of us spoke. Waiting in the lobby was torture. "Why are you guys here?" they asked. I stared at my feet, the tears uncontrollable. My brain is burned by what happened next, saying goodbye, watching his life slip away. "Were we doing the right thing?" "Will it hurt?" So many questions. The vet cried with us. It was the worst thing I've ever experienced. I'm struggling to get back to "normal." "Do I run out and get another dog to make this hole go away?" Then that thought makes me sick.

I had to write this today because I need to get it all out, I need to be able to cry until I can't cry anymore. I don't want my girls to see me like this. They're confused and worried. Today I'm going to do whatever it takes to feign happiness. I'm going to start posting cheery things, I'm going to pretend things are normal.

I will always love and miss you Guinness. My heart will truly never be the same without you.

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21 comments :

  1. Lesley, I am so heart broken for you and your family. I'm crying in my cubicle for you and this unimaginable loss. Hope you can remember that energy cannot be created and destroyed so I hope his energy and love will forever linger in your lives. There is nothing like the love of a family pet and know that you gave him the best - he never doubted that! xo

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  2. I'm balling in Starbucks reading this. Praying for you--thank you for posting this and letting us live life with you. He was deeply loved! Know that!!

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  3. My heart hurts for you and your family. Your account brought back so many similarities of loosing my first dog 3 years ago. She was 8 and had cancer... we had to let her go, it was easier than the suffering she was clearly in, yet one of the most difficult days of my life. I still think about her all the time.

    We ended up adopting a new puppy about 3 weeks later because the hole left in my life was just too great. Ellie is different than Zoey was... something I somehow wasn't expecting, but she did help in our healing, and we love her so dearly.

    Prayers that your heart begins to heal... I don't think anyone ever really gets over things like this, but the pain gets easier and less frequent.

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  4. How completely heartbreaking. Since Brooks' birth, my pups haven't gotten near the attention they used to, and I can tell they are confused and sad. This makes me want to go lock myself in my room with my beagle babes and give them lots of love. Praying for you and your family. So sorry for your loss.

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  5. Lots of love. You are a brave mama. You gave G a beautiful home, a safe life and a sweet family...that is so much in itself. Have faith that you did the right thing. xo

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  6. I'm so glad you wrote this. You did the right thing on all accounts. From what I knew of Guinness - he knew his role in the family and he never begrudged it. For all the love you felt like you missed giving him - your girls sure gave him a lot. You'll know if and when the time is right to add another pet to your family. Praying you find some peace, Lesley.

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  7. So sorry to hear about this. Dogs become such a part of our family. We had to give ours away when I was pregnant with Gwen. Them plus owen was too much for me to handle at the time. We found them the best home and it worked out great. I cried for days and never ever expected that. Even tho it was our choice and I know they are happier I still get sad when I think about them. Saying prayers for all of yall.

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  8. Ah, Lesley, I'm crying just reading this. Wish I could make it better.

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  9. My heart continues to break for you both. I stopped by Sam's cube today to tell him that I've been thinking of you guys and ended up just standing their crying.

    Just remember that all dogs go to heaven :)

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  10. I am in front of the screen just crying. I can't imagine how hard this must be. He was so loved and I wish I could undo this horribleness for you. The heartache of losing a pet is unbearable and I'm so sorry :( Thinking about you every day.

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  11. I cried along with you in this post. Dogs are such a sweet, sweet gift. Better companions than we ever realize. Praying lots of comfort and time spent remembering the best parts of Guinness your way!

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  12. pets are so special aren't they? truly a part of our families. so sweet and loving.
    you were a great puppy mama and he loves you. i am so sorry for your loss and the void that you are experiencing :( it is heart breaking. sending you many hugs
    xxo

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  13. Lesley, I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through. I understand the feeling of regret when someone passes away, and it's gut-wrenching. It will be hard, might feel impossible right now, but you'll have to forgive yourself. I have no doubt after reading this that your pup lived a wonderful life and was loved by many. xo

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  14. Lesley, I only recently started following your blog, but your post still brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure your girls feel the loss on some level as well, so there's no need to force yourself to feign happiness. I think it's okay for our kids to see us sad over sad things. It teaches them some of the more difficult parts of life and how to handle those difficulties. Knowing that everything happens for a reason and being grateful for the special gift you had will hopefully help you get through the mourning period. I wish all the best

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  15. So sad. I totally understand what you feel. Be strong.
    He had such a good life with you guys. Now, he left. And that's we call "life".
    Bisous bisous
    isa

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  16. lesley. oh my word, lesley. i wish i could give you a huge hug and just let you cry on my shoulder. saying goodbye to allie was literally one of the hardest things i have ever done. i remember waking up in the middle of the night and just weeping all over again, having forgotten about it for a few hours while i slept. we had to put her down at the vet and my sobs shocked even me. so many things you take for granted with dogs, they're always there, they're always happy to see you. it's so hard to not have that anymore. and with gracie, i fear i'll regret more--we've had parker since having her, so she doesn't get as much attention as she should. i resonated with all the things you said. but do know that, i'm sure, guinness was a happy pup. he had two girls to love, and a mom and a dad, and sometimes a warm fire. they don't need much to be happy. that's the beautiful thing about them. they teach us so much.

    i am so so so sorry for your loss. time will help. in the meantime, surround yourself with your sweet family. sending you love... i've thought of you lots since those recent igs. xoxo

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  17. i am so so sorry, lesley. tears!! i'll be praying for you. :(

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  18. My comment never posted for some reason. Tears ran down my face when I read this post last week. I'm so sorry of the lost your sweet pup. When the time is right, your heart will tug and urge you to find a new four legged friend to bring into your home.

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  19. i am so so sorry for your loss. just from this post i can tell how loved he was. one time i read this card on 'post secret' (remember that site?) and it was from a vet tech who said, "whenever we ask if you want to stay in the room or wait outside, please always wait. they look for you when you're gone.' it's burned in my brain for some reason. so as hard as it is for us to watch, being there for them at that moment seems so important. thinking of your family at this sad time.

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  20. oh lesley, I read this post this morning at work and just cried at my desk. I cannot stop thinking about Guinness. your story has hit me more than you know. I'm praying for peace and comfort for you guys. and lots of reminiscing of the great life Guinness lived with your family. Hugs.

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  21. What an emotional post. I just stumbled upon your blog this evening and this post caught my attention. I too, lost a beloved furry family member in 2013, and reading this made me weep along with you. My story is very different, although the pain experienced was the same. My beautiful black greyhound, with the shiniest, most velvety black coat, past away at the tender young age of two. She seemed full of life and in great health, yet she died of heart failure - a sudden, unexpected heart attack - while we were at a dog beach. Our first trip to that dog beach, and I thought that it was possibly the best day of my life, seeing how happy my best friend was, how perfect the weather that day, and how magnificent God's creation, the rolling hills and cliffs by the sea. I had her off-leash in the past, no issues, and made the choice to let her enjoy the beach to the fullest. Regrettably, it was a decision that cost her her life...but looking back, her death from running along the beach could have happened in any other park, or even at home while we weren't there, and perhaps her dying instantly, without being in pain, was the best way to go. On the most beautiful beach, with sun shimmering on the ocean and sparkling sand that looked like it had sparkles in it. How could the most beautiful day also be one of the saddest I have ever experienced. The thoughts that went through my mind right before she died- about how I was going to take her to this beach every Saturday from then on, and how I couldn't believe that I hadn't taken her there before. How happy she was, and how happy that made me. My experience is slightly different than yours, having lost a friend a only barely just met, less than a year together- however, working from home during that period and spending nearly every hour of my day by her side, perhaps made it just as painful, possibly more. She slept with me every night, curled up by my legs. I did what you felt guilty about- I was there for her, I didn't neglect her and we were the best of friends. But instead, by wanting the best for her, I made the decision to let her run, and it was one I'll question making for a long time. Should we shelter the ones we love from all the dangers of the world, or should we let them enjoy life to the fullest, and by doing that, perhaps allowing them to get hurt along the way. No normal, healthy dog would have collapsed and died as suddenly as she did. She never went in the water, and there were no dogs chasing her. She was in our wedding, just less than two months prior to her tragic death. She had been to Florida and California, and all the states in between (we took her wherever we went, aside from our honeymoon). I had planned out my whole future with her, realized that the sad day would eventually come, but never anticipated it to be so soon. I had even made plans to celebrate her 3rd birthday. She had a Bears jersey, and White Sox bandana. She even got a 49ers bandana to celebrate the Super Bowl game with us in San Francisco, and I teasingly called her a bandwagon fan in a photo I had posted to Facebook the day before. As the one year anniversary of her death approaches, I cannot help but think of all the memories we would have had together, and how much I wish she had been with me longer. But I know that more time with her wouldn't have made it any easier, and that we were lucky to have each other for the time that we did. Those memories will always be cherished. I now have another greyhound. One that my husband thinks is even more wonderful (rarely has accidents or wakes us up in the mornings, and this one can't open doors - yes, our last one was a Houdini of dogs!) but I can't help but miss the first one. I wanted to get another dog to help fill that empty spot, and to also give a shelter dog a loving home, like the one my other girl had. It's what she would have wanted, and I'll always wonder if the two of them would have been friends. I have a feeling that friendship would have been inevitable.

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