On October 28th, I went to visit my grandmother and my uncle while I was in town for the day. When I walked in I was greeted by the usual barking and wagging tail of their dog, Abby. Instead, she lay quietly on the floor, barely lifting her head to greet me. My mom had warned me that she was going downhill fast, but it still didn't prepare me. My grandmother told me I would need to say goodbye because she would likely not be with us anymore when I came for Thanksgiving just a few weeks later. I spent much of my visit sitting on the floor. I gave her ear scratches and belly rubs. She just laid her head on her paws and watched me. She was tired and I could tell.
They told me she had stopped eating for the most part, aside from a couple plain donuts every morning to get her going. She was a smart dog and she knew that my uncle was putting medicine(she didn't realize it would help her) in the treats he was giving her. She was stubborn, always was. I sat with her on the floor and tried multiple times to get her to eat a couple bones. She would munch on a couple, then lie back down. It was hard to watch, but I stayed strong until later that night.
We first got Abby back in 2004. She would be my uncle's third Chesapeake Bay Retriever and she was probably the best one(despite being a little lazy and inactive). I remember going to the Chessie rescue center in Bremen, Maine. Abby was one of the puppies in the breeder's final litter. My uncle had been drawn to a little puppy with a red color, but I was smitten with Abby. She had a green ribbon around her neck. I picked her up and she immediately licked my chin and her ears flopped about. I convinced everyone she was the one.
I watched Abby grow into a big dog right before my eyes. I used to spend every weekend at my grandmother's house when I was younger. I remember her being afraid of my dad snoring on the couch when she was in her kennel at night. I remember going out and sitting next to the kennel. Abby would lay down, stop barking and pant her puppy breath into my face all night.
As I got older, I stopped going to my grandmother's on the weekends. I had more friends and I had more things to do on the weekends. I would still see her on Sundays for a couple hours during lunch, but that was about it. I remember when I first got my license and my own car that she was one of the first "people" I let ride in it. It was a'99 Buick LeSabre and the back windows didn't roll down all the way. Abby would lean her face against the window and reach her tongue out until it went outside.
There was a time back in 2012/2013 that we all thought we would lose Abby. She had contracted a skin disorder. She was digging herself about and her fur was falling out. The vet kept giving her steroids to stop the itching, but nothing helped. In the end, it turned out that she had mange and that the steroids were only making it worse. Abby finally pulled through after eight months.
Abby wasn't like a normal dog. She didn't play fetch. She only half-heartedly sat on command. She was terrified of the water. She only liked being outside long enough to go to the bathroom. Unless it was winter. Abby loved the snow so so much.
When I called my grandmother a few days before Thanksgiving to ask about bringing some laundry she told me that Abby had gone downhill really fast overnight and that she was gone. I was caught off guard, though I knew it was coming. I had thought I had one more chance to say goodbye at Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was weird this year. I was so used to having a dog sitting at my feet waiting for me to "accidentally" drop some food on the floor. Or having her beg me for a piece of celery I knew she would bite into and promptly spit it back out on the floor. My uncle showed me the box he picked out for her ashes and then we didn't talk about it anymore. We were all afraid that we would start crying. I surprised I didn't even still.
Losing a pet, even one that isn't technically yours, is one of the hardest experiences I have ever gone through. I've lost many cats in my younger years, but there is something different about growing up with a pet and watching them go through the end stages of life. I only wish the Buick had still been in commission so I could've given her one last car ride.
Rest in peace, little pup. I will miss you forever.