Murphy lay on the floor and barked. I felt myself shaking a little. I held out my hand to see if the shaking was outside or in-. In, I decided.
The veterinary technician was familiar and I like her, but I could not come up with her name. Maybe it’s Chrissy. Dave might know, but he wasn’t there. He was Murphy’s primary caretaker, spent more time with her than anyone else. No way my husband could do this. I could, so I did.
Chrissy told me how sorry she was, tears in her eyes.
“I have a couple of things to go over with you,” she said. “There are three options. With the first one, you’d take her home with you.” When she offered the second option, I said, “Yes, that’s what we want,” a communal cremation where the crematorium scattered her ashes in a private wooded area.
Chrissy went on to the procedure. I stopped her and said I’d already discussed with Mel, the long-term receptionist, when I booked the appointment.
“Do you want me to put her on the table?” I asked.
She said yes, so I hefted our puppy’s almost 15 pounds on top of the exam table. I still called her our puppy. Dave laughed at me and says “She’s hardly a puppy,” but her little Shih-tzu face still looked like a puppy to me.
Chrissy asked me to check and initial the preferred option and then sign permission. The initials ran off the line and I found it difficult to write my last name. Revell came out more like Reiwelll.
Dr. O’Neill eased the door open. She said she knew this was a difficult decision, and that we’d gone the extra mile for Murphy. “Do you want your friend to come in?”
“No,” I said and wrapped my arms around Murphy. The tech held her bottom half.
“Okay, sweet girl,” Dr. O’Neill said as she did the first injection, “you’ll sleep in a few minutes.” She stroked Murphy’s head. In sync, our hands touched. I instantly glanced at Dr. O’Neill, but she had already averted her eyes.
I held our Murphy Sweet Punkin while she drifted off to sleep. I knew she was asleep when she started to snore. She grew heavier and the tip of her tongue protruded. I smiled.
“I think she’s asleep,” Dr. O’Neill said.
I lifted Murphy’s back leg and let it fall–gently. “She is.”
The second injection of clear deep pink solution struck me as a good color. I’d always told groomers “She’s partial to hot pink” when they asked if they could put bows on her ears.
It took three tries for Dr. O’Neill to get a good vein. They were all small and kept collapsing. When the needle found the third vein, it seemed that my little old dog’s heart stopped beating within a couple of minutes. I held her tight and wept, happy to see a tissue box at the end of the table.
“Okay,” I said, “I’m going to leave her with you.” I kissed her head and said something like “Sleep, no more pain now.” I moved her gently from my arms to the table.
I know Dr. O’Neill and Chrissy said something. I don’t know what they said.
When I reached the waiting room, I nodded to my friend Peggy, who had driven me to Animal Care Center. At the counter, I said, “Do I need to sign…..”
“No,” the young woman at the desk said, “we’re good. I’m so sorry.”
I turned to Peggy. “Okay,” I said. She followed me out the door.
Past the beautiful statue of St. Francis and the animals, I remembered to pick up the bag of poop I’d left on the short wall around the clinic front patio. We didn’t see a trash receptacle so I put it on the floor of the van, along with the pink harness and leash.
When we got home, I gathered my purse, my water bottle, and the leash. “Oh, let me get the poop,” I said.
Peggy answered, “Whew, I’m glad you said that. It’s pretty ripe.” We both laughed a little.
“You mean you could smell it?” I asked.
“Lord, yes,” she said. “But I knew you couldn’t smell anything.”
I laughed. Peggy knew my sense of smell left with years of inhalers and other medications for asthma.
We hugged and I told her thank you, couldn’t say much more. I had to get inside to Dave and his grief combined with mine.
When I walked onto the porch and threw the bag of poop in the trash, I realized I never looked at Murphy’s face. No way I could look at that little face. But I’ll always remember it.