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Lilly’s Passing

After we posted that farewell to Lilly — which was all we could bring ourselves to say at the time — a few people asked what had happened, thinking we’d had some sudden tragedy… Actually, we’d been struggling for some time with the decision of when it was “time” for Lilly. She was 15 years old, ancient for a dog her size and breed, and had never adjusted to losing her sight, refused to slow down and take it easy on her feeble frame. She would march off the back porch and ‘estimate’ where the steps were — not always correctly. She climbed up onto the sofa and loveseat and didn’t always make it. She ran into things, fell and hurt herself at times… got lost in a far corner of the yard on more than one occasion.

We kept telling ourselves that she didn’t seem to be in any acute pain, and still had a healthy appetite, but in the past few months she started losing an alarming amount of weight, in spite of eating four times as much food as Lindsy. She was confused, frail and covered in little growths that kept infecting and bleeding, mostly deaf and blind… Truthfully we’d hoped she would just pass quietly in her sleep someday, but it finally reached the point where we felt her failing body and mind were just a prison for her spirit and it was time to set her free.

Somehow we found the courage to make the appointment, and Lilly passed away peacefully May 9, with Joy cradling her head and me petting her as she drifted off. We hadn’t thought we would be able to stay, not again, not so soon after going through this with Mojo (and Nipsy before that) but I felt I owed it to her and I am glad we managed to do that one last thing for her. We got some tranquillizers from the vet — Joy’s idea — to ease Lilly’s nervousness, and gave them an hour before. She had a huge breakfast, her various favorite forbidden snacks throughout the day, and for once the temperamental Texas weather, which had been overcast for most of the day, obliged us by clearing long enough for Lilly to have one last sunbeam to snooze in. The drugs hit her while she was there in the sun, and she was pretty zonked by the time we left. I rode in the back seat with her and she put her head in my lap.

At the vet’s, we carried her in and she lay peacefully on her side on the table, with Joy holding her head, and we both petted her and talked to her quietly and spent about 20 minutes saying our goodbyes while waiting for the vet. She was totally relaxed for the first time in a very long time, which I think meant she really had been in some sort of pain that she was bearing stoically, and the medication took that away. She never even felt the needle go in, slipped away quietly… and we held back our grief until she was gone. We are still sort of numb and sad now, we can’t really believe she is gone… But she went the ‘right’ way, and her suffering is over. Maybe we will meet her again someday.

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