My puppy Sammy is gone.
Lilah is kind of lazy. Whenever we take her on a walk, she stops every 20 feet or so and looks up at us with eyes that say, "Are we done with this ridiculous process yet?"
But Sammy wasn't like that. He loved going on walks. And he loved going on runs even more. So on Saturday afternoon, when he saw a runner going past the back fence, he took advantage of a momentarily open garage door and took off to join him.
The car didn't even have time to swerve.
I was working on some editing in my room when I heard a horrible, staccato, almost mechanical sound that I couldn't identify until it tapered off into pain-filled whining. I rushed to the window to see a man and woman jump out of their car as a crowd of neighborhood kids crowded around a black shape curled up on our front lawn.
With a sinking heart I ran outside and saw that the prone figure was Sammy. One of his back legs was sticking out at a strange angle and Delilah was licking one of the several raw scrapes on his head. He had stopped whining at that point, and was just looking up at us with pain-deadened yet trusting eyes. And my heart broke.
Dad and Ian rushed him to the Animal Hospital as the driver of the car and his wife apologized profusely and repeatedly. We could only tell them it would be okay, and that it wasn't their fault. They finally left, and La and I waited anxiously on the couch with Delilah between us.
A dose of painkillers, one round of anesthesia, two x-rays, and a little over an hour later, we got the news. Sammy's head and paw wounds were superficial, but his back leg had received a compound fracture close to the hip. The prognosis wasn't good. Technically, the break was healable, but would take surgery and at least six weeks of no movement followed by months of rehabilitation. Even after that, the breaking point would be under constant stress, and given that Black Labs are already at higher risk for hip dysplasia, Sammy would still feel almost constant pain.
The decision was both the hardest and the easiest.
Sammy would hate being kenneled for weeks, and being limited in movement for the rest of his life would have killed him. Death by inches. So we decided to let him go, before he even woke up from the anesthesia and had the chance to feel pain and fear again.
I know it was the right decision, but that doesn't stop the tears.
At first they were heavy, uncontrollable sobs as our family tried to cope. These eventually faded to fits and starts of gushing tears, and now they've progressed (digressed?) to silent, steady tears. The kind that seep through the cracks in your soul.
- I cry because I loved Sammy more that Delilah, and my first thought was why couldn't it have been her.
- I cry because I love Delilah too and that's a horrible thing to think.
- I cry whenever I go into the backyard and see his toys strewn about.
- I cry because Delilah won't even touch them.
- I cry because Lauren thinks it's her fault for leaving the door ajar for that flash of an instant.
- I cry because, even in her pain, Lauren spared the couple that hit Sammy by telling them that he was all right when they called to ask.
- I cry because I saw Sammy's empty bed.
- I cry because someone took it away and tried to fill the space with the end table that would match the one holding Sammy's favorite chew toy, but for the teeth marks going up one of the legs.
- I cry because Delilah can still smell him and looks for him every time she enters a room.
- I cry because she was finally tempted by his chew toy, but stays tensed while she plays with it, waiting for Sammy to jump on her for touching his things like he always used to do.
- I cry because Delilah is still growing and now she wears Sammy's collar. And she hates it.
- I cry because my mom was looking at dogs for sale on Craig's List. Even though we all know a square peg won't fit in a round hole.
And I cry because these cracks in my soul are like the hole in the dyke. And now an ocean of hurts is threatening to burst my carefully constructed dam.