Man, I hate writing stuff like this… Last night, we took the longest ride with our little Emma, taking her to the vet to release her from the pain she’s been in for so long.
Emma came to us from a farm in Wright City back in 1999, just after Becky and I were married. Becky had wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog forever, but had raised a wonderful English Springer Spaniel when she was young. She knew that I was more of a cat-person in those days, and felt that a smaller, “training wheels” dog like a Springer might be just the thing to set the stage for a Berner in the future. So, little Emma came into our lives.
She was a very sick puppy, and I think that’s how she and I bonded so strongly. She’d cuddle up with me, melt my heart, and wrap me around her tiny little paws. In fact, during those days, she used to sleep under the covers, cuddled up against me.
There’s no doubt Emma was a little hound dog, with her nose always on the ground, sniffing out everything that had ever happened on any piece of ground. We trained her, and she showed that she could do pretty much anything we wanted.
A couple of funny memories…
When she was about two, we used to leave her out while we were at work. On one day, we came home to find a puddle of blue ink on our white carpet, and gazillions of little blue paw prints all throughout the house. Emma had gotten bored, and decided to chew up an ink pen. She got tired of that and walked all over the house, leaving these little paw prints everywhere. Her mouth was blue from the ink, and with the carpet well inked, it looked she’d killed a smurf in the living room.
On another occasion, Becky worked with a vendor to get a refund check for some paint that really didn’t work very well on our walls. The check came in, and sat on our coffee table for a while. Emma discovered it one day (again, while we were at work), and ate it, leaving Becky with a rather embarrassing phone call to the vendor to get them to re-issue the check because the dog had eaten it.
Much later, when Em was about seven or so, Becky found out that Starbucks would let you take old coffee grounds to put in your garden. Becky put a couple of bags of these old grounds out in the backyard garden. Well, Emma’s nose found the coffee, leading her to eat a bunch of the old grounds. Emma was ok, but all night, she marched around the bedroom, with every loop stopping to look out the window, and let out a little “bwoof” to anything that would listen, after which she’d march the next lap. We finally crated her, and she slipped into a deep, deep, caffeine-crashing sleep.
In her later life, she began getting stiffer and stiffer, and was in pretty constant pain, turning her last few years into a exercise in pain management. During that time, she grew mostly blind, mostly deaf, and exhibited strong signs of canine dementia. We’ve known for months that we were staring at an inevitable decision point, and finally, her discomfort exceeded what the pain management could do for her. It was time.
Wednesday night, we played with her as much as she’d let us, took some photos and video. We made a paw print. We snipped some of her fur. And we loved on her. We cried, and in the first moment of real normalcy from Emma in a couple of years, she licked the tears from our faces, once again, briefly, being the dog we had known for so long. We gave her some popcorn — one of her favorite treats, and just tried to keep her comfortable, knowing what was coming.
Last night, Becky brought her a little McDonald’s hamburger, and each of us fed her a little bit of it as we waited for time to leave for the vet. Once again, Dr. Hooks helped us take care of one of our dear pets, and let Emma finally rest, relieved of her pain.
We got an email from Dr. Hooks later last night, and he let us know that Emma was one his first patients as he joined the practice he’s still at. In fact, her first appointment with him was fourteen years to the day as her last visit with him.
Becky asked Dr. Hooks if there were any studies out there that Emma could help with. He found a study on canine dementia, and took samples for the study. We were really happy Emma could be helping with other dogs that might face this in the future. Who knows — maybe that research will help with human studies in dementia.
And now she’s gone.
The house is quieter, and has a little less life in it. I’m pretty sure Bailey figured it out. She sniffed where Emma would typically lie, and looked at me last night as we were going to bed, almost asking if I’d forgotten to bring Emma into the bedroom. She’s a smart dog.
It’s tough, but I know we did the right thing. Emma was in major pain, and holding her here just to ease our hearts wasn’t fair, as weighed against her hurting so much. I don’t like that this was the choice we were left with, but I’m at peace with it.
As Becky said last night, Molly and Emma are back together again. They were inseparable for almost ten years, and I’m sure that once again, they’re romping about, being the goofy critters we once knew.