When saying goodbye to family pet, loss is felt deeply

5/23/2014

I don't have anyone to share my toast with anymore.

I don't have anyone to share my toast with anymore.

We lost our precious dog, Millie, this week.

She developed a tumor under her tongue that stretched back down her throat. She was having problems breathing, so it was time to say goodbye.

Millie would have been 11 in August, had lost her vision and maybe some of her hearing.

Still, despite all these health problems, she was the same, old happy dog we've loved all these years.

There's an emptiness and a stillness in our home now.

If you're a pet owner, you understand that it's not that they are like family, they are family.

You give your time to them.

You don't plan a trip without considering them.

You get used to having them around.

Most mornings, Millie would wander into the living room and station herself by me waiting for me to offer the crust from my toast.

I usually fed her and put her out in the mornings.

If no one was around at noon, I would let her out.

But we all took care of her, and she took care of us.

Being a basset hound, she made the perfect pet for us. She was content to stay at home when we were gone, but ready to play when we returned.

Even as she got older and slowed down, she loved people and would greet anyone, asking only for a pat on the head or a quick scratch around the ears in return.

There were times in the past year when we thought this might be it for Millie.

But a trip to the vet and a few pills, and she was back to being herself.

Not this time.

A few days ago, she started to cough, and my wife worried Millie might be suffering from congestive heart failure.

At the vet's office, we learned her heart was in good shape, but that wasn't the problem.

The tumor had grown so large it was starting to restrict her breathing. At her age, it was unlikely she would recover from surgery.

It was time to let her go and give her relief from what she was going through.

We called our children, Claire and Alek, from the vet's office to let them know what was going on.

Claire was in Wayne, Neb., packing up her apartment, and asked that we wait to do anything until she could return to say her goodbyes.

Alek waited with my wife and I until we could all be there together.

That was the hardest part, knowing we were in our last moments with Millie.

It was a long night, and the days after that haven't been much fun.

As much as it hurt, we know we did what was best for Millie.

We've have had other dogs, and we'll have another, but Millie was special.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram

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