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4:38 a.m. - 2003-02-19

RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT YESTERDAY

If you happened to check this page out yesterday, you already know that after 13 years, I had to put my dog Maggie to sleep yesterday.

First off, thanks for all the e-cards, e-mails, messages and notes. I received so many that I haven't been able to look at them all. During the day yesterday, I received 145 emails alone and overnight, another 38 emails. As much as I would like to respond to each of these emails individually, I do have a day job and it will be a while before I thank each and every one of you personally.

Knowing that so many people cared enough to pour out their hearts with their own stories or to include my family in their thoughts and prayers was an overwhelming feeling. The support that you guys provided me with yesterday...each and every one of you played a special role in making this transition a whole lot smoother.

Now...for the bad news.

We DIDN'T put her to sleep after all.

Okay...I'm kidding.

We DID put her to sleep.

And here's some of the thoughts on it.

THE DUMBEST THING SAID YESTERDAY (TIE)

Yesterday morning, I decided to fix Maggie a "last meal".

For the last couple of years, I've really tried to cut back on her consumption of people food. As much as she loved it, her gastrointestinal system didn't.

So I shredded some leftover chicken and covered it with cheddar goldfish ... two of her favorite things.

And for the hell of it, a chocolate chip cookie.

Susie came out to the kitchen while I was doing this and said (Dumbest thing said...) "What are you doing? You're not supposed to feed a dog before they go into surgery!"

I turned to her and said "What's the worst thing that can happen?

(Answer: They could die.)


The second worst thing...we're in the waiting room with Maggie and she's wanting to get out of there, because she always hated going to the vet.

The vet comes in and he's trying desperately to remain somber, but he and I always had a jovial relationship for 13 years. We've always talked about silly things.

He's explaining what they're about to do and asking us questions on what we would prefer.

Then, out of the blue, he said "Did you guys see 'Joe Millionaire' last night?"

I can't say I was shocked. But we were a bit sad yesterday morning and weren't really thinking about 'Joe Millionaire'.

I said "No, but I can't believe the butler humped everyone at the end."


THE TWO WORST THINGS ABOUT PUTTING YOUR DOG TO SLEEP

1) Wondering if you're really truly doing the right thing and if it's really truly the right time to do it.

2) Actually doing it.


THE WORST MOMENT OF THE DAY (PT I)

As I sat at my desk yesterday, I would occasionally sniff my hand because I could still smell Maggie's fur on it from petting her non-stop for the last half-hour of her life.

I got up to go to the bathroom, peed, and washed my hands.

I went back to the desk, sat down and went to smell my hand.

It smelled like cheap liquid soap.

I had absent-mindedly gotten rid of her scent.

I had smelled my dog for the final time.

For some reason, that choked me up.


ALL OF THE TIMES THAT I EITHER SHED A TEAR OR OUTRIGHT CRIED

* While writing my entry yesterday, especially the last line.

* After Susie and Andrew left the house, I bawled. Hard. Like a baby. Only for about a minute. Mainly because I knew this was going to be taking place, but poor Maggie thought it was just another day where she got a killer breakfast (no pun intended).

* On the drive to the vet. Just soft tears.

* When the vet put one of his leashes around her neck and asked if we wanted to remove her collar. I said "Yeah, she always hated that thing anyway," bent down to take it off of her while she sat on the floor and had trouble getting it off. The tears were stinging my eyes and I figured that since nobody could see my face down here, I could fumble with the collar some until I composed myself. My tears fell on the back of her neck as I fumbled with it. Finally, I got it loosened, removed it, stood up and tried to be strong.

* When the vet walked her out the door and shut the door behind her leaving Susie and I in the room alone. She had no idea what was going on. Susie burst into sobs and I softly cried.

* Once getting to the office, I closed the door and shed a few more tears. Quiet tears, but they stopped my sinuses up, so I had to blow my nose quite a bit. My apologies to Angela whose office is next to mine.

* Reading over y'all's messages and emails. A great number of those were brilliant and concise and I appreciated them more than any of you will ever know.


A STRANGE MOMENT OF PEACE

For some reason, leaving the vet's office and driving to my office ... I was no longer sad for the duration of that trip. I was starving and there was half a bag of potato chips and a Diet Dr. Pepper in the back seat. I ate chips, drank my drink, thought about the dog and drove to the office in peace. It was strange. Kinda like all the pain had been lifted at that point.


TAKING ME BY SURPRISE

I was under the impression that we would go back in the operating room and would be stroking Maggie and telling her we loved her while she died.

The vet said that in his experiences, it's usually best for the family to leave before that takes place. He said that most people would rather remember their pet alive rather than be there for her death. But it was up to us whether we wanted to come back or not.

I told him that he had been a good doctor for 13 years and I thought we should heed his advice.

So when he put the leash on her and guided her out of the waiting room, we didn't really get a chance to say the words "Bye". I wanted her to think that she'd be coming back into the room and that we would all be leaving together in a few minutes. And she knew what the word "Bye" meant...we were leaving her.

I just couldn't make it any worse on the dog by saying that word.


THE LAST MEMORY OF THE DOG THAT I'LL HAVE

As we stood there in the waiting room hugging, we could hear her crying behind the closed door. It wasn't a cry of pain ... she just hated being there and was trying to convey that she was ready for this experience to be over with so she could go home and watch the construction workers out her window all day.


THE WORST MOMENT OF THE DAY (PT II)

When the vet came in the room and talked to us, he typed some stuff into the computer while he talked. He told us where she would be buried and was honest with us ... she would probably be buried in a hole with 2-3 other dogs since we weren't going to spring for the bucks to have her in a nice pet cemetary with her own grave and headstone and all that.

He then took her away, which you've already read about.

After we were hugging and all, I looked at the computer screen to see what he had typed.

It had been her chart.

And at the top, it said Maggie May (Deceased).

That hit us both kinda hard to actually read the word.


A MOMENT THAT I DIDN'T THINK WOULD BE BAD, BUT IT WAS

Coming home last night.

My boy Edweird said that was the strangest part of when his family had their dog put to sleep. He would come home and there was no greeting from the dog.

I told him I didn't think it would be a big deal.

But when I walked in the door last night, there was no barking.

No making a beeline for outside.

No begging for treats.

It was just deathly quiet.

Hence the phrase, I guess.

At first, the silence was unnerving. But then it became peaceful.


STRANGE

I figured last night would be a tough night with the three of us home and the fourth member of our family was gone.

But both Susie and I were literally all cried out. We talked about our memories of the dog ... how she loved to sleep in a basket under an end table when she was a puppy ... how she loved "hunting" squirrels when we lived at the old house ...things like that.

But no tears were shed last night.

It was a bit heartbreaking when Andrew came home and ran straight to where Maggie's kennel should have been and it was gone.

He stood there for a moment, wondering where it may have gone to.

He looked around.

Then he went to play, never asking about the "doggie".

I think we were both thankful for that.


So it was a very tough thing to do, but I think we're at peace with our decision to do it.

It's strange ... for the first time since I've been writing this diary, she's not sleeping at my feet while I type it in.

I guess it's something I'll have to get used to.

Maggie's collar and her window to the world.

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