She’d gotten sick about two weeks before Christmas. She wasn’t acting right and needed to go out more often than usual. Bladder infection, the vet said. He gave her some medicine. But she only got worse.
I got sick about two days before Christmas. I was finishing a semester of school, finishing the direction of the church Christmas program, and finally starting to collapse after running for three straight months. My fiancé and I arrived on Tuesday for dinner with my parents, and he left that night. The next morning, I, too, was worse.
Tory was very lethargic all week. She spent most of her time lying on her side with her short Corgi legs hanging limply from her stocky body. Usually, she loved to be with people, to be talked to and played with. But she just didn’t have the energy. She loved to be petted. So we did, often.
Nighttime was the worst, for both of us. I couldn’t breathe, so I couldn’t sleep. And Tory cried all night long from the pain. Her whimpers broke my heart. The noise kept me up. It scared me in the darkness when I was already uncomfortable and struggling to rest myself. But we made it through Christmas, the two of us.
But, finally, early in the morning two days after Christmas, my sister and I could stand it no longer. At 6 am, we woke my parents. I climbed up the stairs to their bedroom, purposely avoiding the creaky places and suddenly feeling like I was 8 years old again. I called out.
“Mom? Dad? Tory has been crying all night. I just can’t listen to her anymore. Please can we do something?”
They got up. They called around until they found a vet with an on-call doctor. He told them to bring her right in. So, at 6:30 in the morning, they bundled Tory up and carried her to the car.
I was with her for her last few minutes in the house. I petted her, told her she was a good dog. She looked up at me knowingly, with her intelligent brown eyes. She understood.
She never came home again. The vet said she had never had a bladder infection. She’d had a blocked intestine the whole time. He seemed very unhappy with her original vet.
They sedated her for a while, then did a procedure which worked. They called to tell us she was resting comfortably. The next morning, however, she was gone when the vet came in to check on her. Her system, it seemed, had been damaged beyond repair.
She’s buried in the back of my parents’ property with the rest of our pets who’ve lived with us, loved us, and passed away. But Tory’s loss was harder for me than any of the others.
She had been my friend. She had looked at me with trust and love and a knowing that no other dog ever had. I was thankful I’d gotten to say good-bye. I was heartbroken that she had died alone in a vet’s office.
But still, I think that had I been there just then, she would’ve looked at me just the same, with her deep brown eyes, understanding all the things I meant with the only words I had to say.
“Good dog, Tory. Good dog.”
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