Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rest In Peace, Heidi Q

Two years ago today was one of the saddest days of my life. That was the day I had to say goodbye to my beloved greyhound Heidi Q. She was 15 and 1/2. That is pretty old for a greyhound, but I still wish I had more time with her.
She was my first greyhound, my "heart" dog. I loved her more than I thought possible. Because of her I started volunteering with my local greyhound adoption program. I met many fabulous people. At my wedding, the majority of the guests were "greyhound people". I fostered greyhounds, in all shapes and sizes. 
I reveled in Heidi's quirky behavioral traits, like when she would see me eating and get close to me and then sit (yes, she loved to sit!) and wait for me to share. She would run circles around my coffee table, like a miniature track. She loved the cold weather ( I found out she came from New Hampshire. That made sense.) and would run and play in the snow. 
She had a pretty good racing career, as she came to me when she was 3 and 1/2. I was told she sustained a racing injury that ended her days at the track. For all her aches and pains, however, she still loved to run, and she was quite fast!
Heidi Q hated her crate. When she was told to "go in your crate" she would bark and grumble and wheedle at me not to put her in. Of course, all that cuteness won out! 
Heidi and my other greyhound girl, GiGi, were faithful attendees to Greyhounds Reach The Beach at Dewey Beach, DE for many years. Heidi loved to run on the sand and jump into the ocean. 
As Heidi Q reached the twilight of her years, she slowed down, struggling to rise from her "sit" or when she was lying down. Towards the end she could not get up at all without aid. I did not mind helping her up to go outside, or feeding her as she lay on her dog bed. She was still happy and her quality of life was good. 
One day after I had taken her outside, she started having trouble breathing. She was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis years ago, so I was used to the coughing and gasping at times, but this was different. She appeared to be panicking. I soothed her and spoke to her, after all, there was nothing else I could do. In a few minutes her breathing evened out and she calmed down. 
I was concerned at this new development. What should I do? She was ok for the rest of the day, until it was time to go out again. Once again she panicked and couldn't breathe. 
It was at that moment I realized I had to say goodbye. I could not stand by and watch her struggle to breathe every time she had to go outside. I still do not know why she had this problem, as she was fine when she was lying down. 
With a heavy heart I called my vet. In tears, I told them I needed to bring her by for a last visit. The appointment was made for the next day, March 19, 2007. 
That night I put Heidi on my futon bed and slept with her by my side, as we used to do when I first got her. I spoke to her and petted her all night. She snuggled up close to me, as I think she knew what was coming. 
You cannot stop time, and the morning came quick enough. Our appointment was for 2 pm, so I did have some more time with her to take pictures and give her more love. 
My husband carried her into the vet's office wrapped up in her favorite blanket. As the vet came into the room, she lifted her head up and looked at him, as if to say, "thank you for granting me peace". 
I held her and told her she was a good girl. She passed away quietly, in my arms. 

On the ride home I felt as if my heart had been broken irreparably. Why did I have to love her so much? I felt terribly guilty for the times I had yelled at her or was angry with her. I should have treated her better!
I later learned that guilt is the main emotion, after sadness, that a pet owner feels after euthanasia. I was told to remember the good times, and understand that since I forgave Heidi for her transgressions (like peeing in the house, eating the remote control and my sunglasses!) she always forgave ME for the times I may have yelled at her. Slowly I came out of my depression and realized that GiGi was still there for me to love and care for. 

It was soon after that when I realized I wanted to become a veterinary technician and help other pets live a healthy life. 
I gave my Heidi Q a final gift: a peaceful end to a good life lived, and she in turn gave me yet another gift~ambition to return to school and make a life change.

The pain has dulled a bit, but I still think of my girl every day. She will always be alive in my memory.

Resquiescat In Pace, Heidi Q

No comments: