Thu Oct 17 2019
Today was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to deal with; I said goodbye to my best friend, Chloe. Chloe is a dog — but not just a dog, she’s part of my family. She was there for nearly every major event or period of my life. She was the most excited, affectionate, and loyal dog that I’ve ever had the pleasure of being with. She was 2 months shy (to the day) of her 15th birthday. We said goodbye to her today.
I travelled back home to be with her and the rest of my family. She was even skinnier than the weekend before. You could tell that she was tired. She brought herself to her feet with a little bit of help and waddled slowly out the front door to the lawn. There was a nice sunny spot that throughout her years, you’d frequently find her. It was nice and warm on her dark fur with a cool fall breeze. There was a melancholic atmosphere in the air; the neighbourhood was quiet, the leaves were changing colour and falling.
My sister had a beer, mom with a glass a wine. I definitely could have used a drink, but I wanted to be sober for this. We all were sort of sitting around her. We were just being with her, soaking up the last hour we had with her. Intermittently one of us would kneel next to her and give her pets.
5:45 came; my sister picked up Chloe and she layed across us three kids in the back seat of the SUV as we drove to the vet clinic. She always hated the vet. Even her old, tired self knew exactly where she was. She was now alert. The vet was there waiting for us. In a back room was a blanket draped atop a stainless steel table. My dad carried her over, much easier than it used to be. She was very skinny now and much lighter than the roughly 80 pounds that she used to be. He placed her on the table and we gathered around her. The vet gave us a quick, soft explaination about what was going to happen. He put the needle in her front right leg. We were all petting her and giving her kisses. The doctor began injecting the first portion of the anesthetic and Chloe started to relax more. Her ears were velvety to the touch. I leaned in, put my face close to her ear. and whispered, “You were the best dog. Thank you.”
Minutes later, it was over — the doctor confirmed it for us and I left the room.
The most foreign of all my experiences today was leaving the Vet clinic. We walked in as a family of 6 and left as a family of 5. She was my parent’s 4th child. The car ride home was quiet. The silence only being broken by sniffles. The atmosphere was empty, or at least more empty — I felt numb.
There’s something particularly tragic about a pet companion passing away. They’re entirely innocent and their love is unconditional. They can truly do no wrong.
My family adopted Chloe February 14, 2005. We went to the breeders house early that morning. It was cold and snow covered the ground. My mom, dad, sister, brother, and myself were all in the car. We only had one thing with us: a cheap, navy blue dog bed. It’s a thin mat with a sort of frame around the edges of its circular shape.
When we got there, we were placed in a space surrounded by gates designed for children. There were chocolate lab puppies bouncing around and falling all over each other. I find you can always tell that a dog is in its infant stages, regardless of it’s size, is that young dogs are still sort of clumsy. They were all clumsy. The children were tasked with deciding which one we wanted to take home. How is anyone, let alone a child, supposed to make this kind of decision. I think it may have been overwhelming to me at the time because I ended up sitting over to the side, up against the gate, watching my brother and sister play with the 2 month old puppies.
They were all the same to me — all were cute and varied slightly, but otherwise all equal. I sat watching, waiting for my siblings to choose for the three of us. Then one of the pups waddled over to me, sleepy and looking for a warm spot to fall asleep. My legs were crossed and she crawled into my lap, curled up and I pet her until she fell asleep. My mind was made up. She took the burden of making the impossible choice off my shoulders.
She chose us.
Although sometimes they may annoy you, whine, bark, meow, hell they even shit on your nice carpet (and it’s never the same after). And despite all these things, you see them as the pinnacle of perfection. You compare their love to that of a pertner; which ends up being unfair to your partner, because at the end of the day, you know who you’re going to choose over the other.
I keep wondering how I could ever have another dog in my life. How could any dog ever compare to the experience I had with Chloe? Maybe it’s more of a rhetorical question. Maybe the answer is that all the other experiences will be entirely independent of each other. Right now it doesn’t feel that way.
Written by Brandon Mowat who lives and works at Ada in Toronto -- building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter