They are never ‘just a dog’.

Lying here on the sofa, cuddling Mitsys blanket, thinking about how I still wished she was here. The last few days have gone by in a haze and I seriously don’t know how I got through them, it’s the worst week in such a long time. I slept in my camper for the last couple of days whilst delivering a course in Dorset, 20 minutes from where me and Mitsy just spent a week with lovely friends.

I remember the day I went to pick Mitsy up from the animal sanctuary in Wiltshire. The owners had told me about all the Labradors that had been rescued from a puppy farm. As we walked towards the kennels I could hear lots of dogs barking. There had been 6 big cages with a few dogs in. They were like metal cages with concrete floors and metal sides, they were poorly lit even with the sun shining outside. I saw lots of young pups of varying breeds but quite a lot of Labradors, mainly black. Most of the pups were barking but I was drawn to a dog who was leaning against the cage door just looking up at me, quiet as you like. I knelt down and put my hand through the bars to her. She just let me stroke her whilst we both just looked into each other’s eyes; she melted my heart. I asked if they could let her out so I could see her properly and at first they tried to talk me out of it. They said she’d been there 6 months, people came and went but wouldn’t take her because she was so overweight. They tried to make me choose a puppy instead (who where in fact Mitsys) but I didn’t want them. Eventually they allowed me to take her into the next field for a walk and I instantly knew I wanted to take her. So, eventually the overweight 3 year old black Labrador was coming home with me. For the first 3 years of her life she had been kept in a small cage and used as a breeding machine. She was so overweight, she’d had too many litters, her coat was dull and she couldn’t walk properly. I rescued Mitsy that day but who knew that she was also to rescue me.

During the worst time of my life, when I was at rock bottom, Mitsy gave me life. She gave me a reason to get out of the door when all I wanted to do was shrivel up and die. She would look into my eyes and remind me that I rescued her for a reason, she had such an intense look that made you want to get up and cuddle her. She was truly the best thing to happen to me, we had the most amazing connection. So, you can understand that on Monday, putting her first was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do for the first time ever.

Within a few months of having Mitsy I left her at the vets to be neutered. I brought her home but she didn’t really come round from the aneasthetic. I lifted the blanket to see she was bleeding. Having rushed her back to the vets it transpired she was bleeding internally. She spent a week unstable but eventually she recovered. The last couple of years have been pretty unstable due to her bad legs. Aparently her pelvis had been smashed before I had her. She had been living off meds for pain but her back leg became lame. She had an operation a few months ago and initially she seemed to be doing well, but recently she started limping on it again; the vet said it was always going to be like that. Then she developed lumps, one of which we knew was cancerous. They offered her the option of an operation but Mitsy was already using her front legs to lift her back end up so it wasn’t really a viable option. Her quality of life would have been nothing if we had gone through with the op. I knew then that it wasn’t going to be long but I thought she had another year at least. Until her back leg went again about 3 weeks ago. She was already limping and in discomfort, having to go back on her meds. She started hiding away and every time she moved around in her bed she grumbled. The vets had twice hovered over the possibility I may have to face losing her and I couldn’t face going back in to see them to be told the same thing again. However, she was clearly in discomfort but still wanted to play, wag her tail and go for lovely walks, despite every footstep clearly causing her pain. I knew I had to take her back but decided I would take her on holidays first. I sent the vet a video and pictures of Mitsys leg which was turning inwards on her when she walked and she held it out at an angle when she sat; it almost looked dislocated.

I knew all week that I couldn’t see her going through all this pain but I also had a horrid feeling that this would probably be the last holiday we would be taking together. I didn’t want to come back up north to face the reality of it all but I knew I had to because she was suffering, I guess I held small hope of another option the vet could take to help her. I kept looking at her throughout the holidays, whilst holding back this overwhelming feeling of sadness. I had a feeling what the vet was going to say.

We arrived back on the Saturday and my intention was to just cuddle up with Mitsy all weekend until her vets appointment Monday morning. However, I woke up on the Sunday morning and my head was pounding, I couldn’t stop being sick and I really couldn’t function. I vaguely remember that day, I just laid on the sofa for most of it. Mitsy slept by me on and off but I slept on and off for most of it. Monday morning came and my head still wasn’t great so I rearranged the vets appointment until later in the day. I slept in the morning on the sofa, moo keeping me company and then I had to sort myself out to take her in.

We arrived early so we sat in the waiting room. I couldn’t stop stroking and kissing her and I held out some hope that the vet could do something. I gave her liver treats then she leaned into me as she often did. It was then time to go in and I suddenly felt sick to the stomach; as usual Mitsy went in wagging her tail. As most of you will now know I then sadly had to leave the vets without her. I was with her when she passed and she knew nothing about it, she was literally eating treats out of my hands just seconds before she passed. They let me leave out of the back door and all I can remember is having her collar and lead in my hand and just crying walking over to my camper.

I felt like someone had ripped my heart out, like someone was grabbing at my throat. I’m crying again now just thinking about it and 6 days on I’m only just eating again. I feel full yet empty inside, I feel sick to the pit of my stomach and like there’s a heavy weight in there. I keep looking over at her beds wishing to see her lying in any of them. I huddle her bed blanket hoping for a faint whiff of her but she wasn’t a smelly dog. I don’t want to wash my bedding because they have her hairs on and I don’t want to hoover up her furr from my floors. I know she’s still with me in my heart and thoughts but I long to see her, I long for her to lick my face, I want to smell one of her horrific trumps again… I just know that I can’t.

I feel guilty for taking her to the vets on Monday, for ending her life but I also know she was struggling. I question myself about if I cuddled her enough, that I didn’t spend enough time with her on Sunday and Monday, I struggle with the thought that I didn’t make her last hours the most amazing time ever, but I know she’s not in pain anymore. Mitsy was in my life for just over 8 years and in that time she saved my life so many times. I know she touched so many more lives than just mine and that anyone who came into contact with her where truly blessed. She was a beautiful, beautiful girl who will always have a place in my heart.

Goodnight my beautiful angel xx

About mitsanuk

I left the RAF in 2015 following 20 years as a frontline paramedic. It has been an amazing career but then found myself suffering because of this. My blog exists as an outlet for me as well as a place for others to read and try to understand the mind of someone with PTSD. Please feel free to make comment on any post and lets raise some discussions on how we can help to end the stigma which surrounds mental illness. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please follow and share in the hope my experience will help others.
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7 Responses to They are never ‘just a dog’.

  1. Sue Adams says:

    I am on my 3rd Lab and when that day comes I say never again because I can’t go through the heartache, Millie is 11 now and I know we haven’t long with her. I know how you are suffering and kind words don’t really help you just have to work through the pain.


  2. Kevin shore says:

    There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to say ‘goodbye’ to someone you love unconditionally, It’s the hardest words you will ever say. You loved Misty and she loved you (that is not in doubt). She is now running around in heaven, having met up with your beloved grandad. She is keeping him company and sleeping by his feet. Xxxx. Keep your sights set high, and remember the good times. Love too you xxxx


  3. Tony Potter says:

    The relationships we develop with our dogs are beautiful. This is just a moment of pain; it is extreme and it is devastating. But trust that one day and when the time is right for you there is a similarly beautiful relationship waiting to be developed. There will be years more joy, love, dedications, affection, play friendship and everything that comes with keeping a dog and then, there will be another moment of pain. It is the whole cycle that make this partnership so strong and true and like no other.


  4. Caroline Major says:

    Still miss my boy 20 years on. He was my baby and a beautiful companion. You rescued each other……she’ll always be remembered x


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