I went the first 18 years of my life without having to deal with the passing of a close pet. At 18, I had to deal with my dog, Fishbone, being put down. I had been living away from home so I hadn’t seen her as much as I wanted, but when my mom told me she was going to have to put her down, I was heartbroken.
Fishbone was with me from the time I was 12. Six years isn’t all that long, yet at the time it had been a large chunk of my life that I could remember. Fishbone was a shelter dog that lived at our local humane society for almost two years before we adopted her. She had been in the paper multiple times, but there she sat when I went to see what they had one day with my mom.
Fishbone was badly abused, most of her teeth had been broken from either being kicked in or from chewing for extended periods of time on things she should not have. She had broken ribs, and had scars on her neck from where she had been left tied up outside with a choke chain on. To the outside world, she was something to be discarded; to me, Fishbone was the greatest dog ever! I talked my mom into paying the $20 for her. She became part of the family right away. Although she had been badly abused, Fishbone was the sweetest dog ever who loved everyone.
I was on my way back to college the week that my parents had to put her to sleep. They made the arrangements to ensure I would have some time with her before they had to do it. Even in her old age, Fishbone always made me smile. She was my best friend in some ways; in my early teen years, I had probably told her more secrets than my best friend.When the fateful day came, Fishbone got an amazing last meal and my parents took her that evening to the local vet to have her put down. After it was done, my parents took her out to a friend’s property and buried her in the woods, as it was her favorite place to play. Not long after Fishbone was put to sleep, my parents also had to put one of her companions, Ladybug, to sleep. Ladybug had lived a long life too, yet it was still hard for all of us having to deal with the loss of two dogs who had been part of our lives for so long. Ladybug was also buried with Fishbone, and over time as pets have passed, they have been buried out with Fishbone and Ladybug.
Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with the pain of having to lose a pet. Putting your dog to sleep gives you a little time to prepare for what’s to come, but there’s never enough time to fully deal with all the emotions that come with losing a loved pet. My way of memorializing Fishbone (not that I didn’t love Ladybug, but Fishbone was MY dog) was to get a tattoo of a fish on my shoulder blade. To me, I forever have her in my heart and have a visual memorial for her. Fishbone’s nametag still hangs in my kitchen along with the nametags of other pets that have passed since.
I have often thought of going out and putting memorial stones for the dogs that we have lost over the years. Each of them impacted our lives in their own way (Fishbone taught me that no matter how high you put that last slice of pizza that you really want, the dog will get it) and I still have times where I wouldn’t mind a good snuggle with an overly large lap dog.
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