Saturday, August 30, 2014

A grieving parents best friend

I really should have written this right after it happened. It probably would have helped me process. But I didn't and I still feel like there's some processing to do, so here I go.

On Aug 8th, we had to unexpectedly put our dog, Perk down. It was awful. It is awful. But not the most awful thing we've ever had to do (obviously). I don't want to get into the details of the why's here. What it comes down to is he had what's called predatory aggression. What's often the most difficult about that is the dog can be awesome 99% of the time and then just snap. The primitive brain takes over (ya know, the part where they came from wolves) and their rational brain turns off. There's no way to say what triggers the switch, so it can be a scary situation. Anyone that I've told that knew Perk has been shocked at what happened. I think that goes to show that he was awesome. And if you know us and want to ask more details about what happened, that's okay. I just don't think this is the place for it. But in short, he attacked another dog while being boarded.

This post isn't to be about what happened. It's to be about how it made and still makes me feel. And how that all related back to Marcellus dying.

Perk was our best friend in grief. He was there for us when human contact seemed impossible. He sat with us (or on us) when we cried. He listened to our wails. He became frightened by our grief at times, but he was our side, always. I honestly don't know what we would have done without him in those early days after Marcellus's death. He made the house seem just a little less silent then it was. 

Mother's Day 2011, they day I found out I was pregnant with Marcellus
We got Perkie shortly after we got married. He was a part of Marcellus's pregnancy. I shared the news with Mike by getting a shirt for Perk that said, "Only child. Big brother." He would snuggle with my belly, looking at me funny when he felt a kick from Marcellus. And he gave us one of the most fun memories of my pregnancy. One night I put some belly balm on my itchy growing tummy. Perk loved it. He licked and licked and licked at my bare belly. It was hilarious. We laughed so hard that night.

When I came home from the hospital and Marcellus was in the NICU it's like he looked at me asking, "Where's our baby?" We brought a blanket that Marcellus had in his isolette home for Perk to have in his crate. To get him used to Marcellus's sent. Perk still had that blanket. We kept it with him. We would always send it with him when he went to boarding too.

Losing Perk was like losing a piece of Marcellus. He was a connection to him. He was here before, during and after Marcellus. And now that's gone.

Perkie with Marcellus Bear
Mike and I stayed with Perk when he was put down. Mike always knew he would do that when the time came. Just didn't know it would be like this. I wasn't sure. But I didn't want to regret not being there. And I owed him. It was so triggering though. In ways that I couldn't have even expected.

I almost couldn't tell him I loved him. It brought me back to my last words to Marcellus. I don't have a clear recollection of what I said to Marcellus, but I know it involved pouring my love into him. So saying, "I love you" to Perkie filled me with some that emotion. Saying I love you when I knew he was about to die was too familiar.

What got me the most, that I had no way of knowing would happen, was when the vet pulled out the stethoscope to check for a heartbeat. I swear I almost had a panic attack. I felt like I stopped breathing for a moment, but I don't know if I gasped or just cried harder or did hold my breath or what. I swear the vet turned into Dr. Young checking for Marcellus's heartbeat. I could feel what it was like to have him trying to be discreet and out of the way, but leaning around me to listen. It all flashed before my eyes. It was one of the most intense flashbacks I've had in a very long time. Even just typing about it is giving me chills.

So there it is. Another difficult situation to be faced. But hey, we've been through worse...we've been through the worst. Still I'm sad and miss my dog. But more than anything I miss my son.

And you know how we explained what happened to Ethan...we said, "Perkie isn't coming home. He died. Perkie is going to be with Marcellus." Let me just take a moment to say how f'ed up it is that we can explain our dog dying to our toddler by saying that he will be with his dead big brother. Yeah, just had to throw that out there. I guess I'm feeling a little angry about everything at the moment. 

Here's what I wrote in an email to the dog trainer that owns the place he was boarded at (the same place we've boarded him every time we've needed too, including an extended stay after Marcellus died):
"Overall he was such an amazing, kind, loving, compassionate dog. After our first son died, Perk was there by our side and helped us through our darkest days. I don't know what we would have done without him. His loss is more than just the loss of a beloved pet, it's a loss of part of our support system. He has been through our ups and downs with us. We have always tried to do our best for him, but one can't help but wonder if some of our struggles played a part for his behavior, going through the loss of Marcellus with us, dealing with Ethan being in the NICU for 10 weeks (and us being pretty absent during that time), and then the adjustment for him of having Ethan in our home. The house is so quiet without him. I guess you never realize how much a dog is always there until he's not. Seems every movement I make within the house is different without our poochy here"

Dear Marcellus, well, you've finally got to meet Perk. That loud barky dog you heard when in my tummy. Maybe you felt the warmth from the snuggles with him on the couch. And I know you heard the deep belly laughs he gave us that night licking my tummy. He was such an awesome dog. He did so much for Daddy and I. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking of how much he had to go through with us. Your NICU stay and your death. Being away from us for so long when we were in MN after you died and then Ethan's NICU stay. But like I said, he was there for us. And we were there for him in his last moments. That brought me back to your last moments, my sweet boy. Those heartbreaking, life shattering moments. One moment you were here and the next, you were gone. Gone from this earth, but never gone from our lives. I love you, Marcellus Robert. I love you so very much and my heart still aches with your absence. Pet and love on Perkie Pie for me. xoxox.