About a month ago our family dog, Tigger passed away and left a void that seemed impossible to fill. It was so hard to talk about let alone write about back then without bringing tears to my eyes. Tigger started to show signs of illness rather suddenly over the Thanksgiving holiday. We feared the worst because all of a sudden he was unable to walk and was barely eating or drinking. This just wasn’t the dog we knew so we took him to the vet on that Friday. I left work early to go with my family once we knew they had an appointment available. I feared the worst, and unfortunately these fears were confirmed when the vet told us that Tigger had a large mass inside of him which was most likely cancer. The doctor explained that surgery would be very risky at his age of 14 years old, but provided us with some pain medications to help make him comfortable at home.
Surprisingly enough the pain meds work wonders and for about 3 weeks it seemed like Tigger was back to his old self. He was eating, drinking, going on walks, and providing us with the amount of love he always had in the past. I fooled myself into thinking that the problem was fixed. I told myself we could have months more with Tigger–even years. The Saturday a week before Christmas, reality set back in. Tigger took a downward spiral that evening–unable to move or walk on his own once again. His breathing became shallowed, and we knew we had to make the decision that we were all dreading. The vet informed us that she was on-call and could meet us at her office in about 40 minutes. My mom, sister, and I carried Tigger on blanket to my dad’s car and made the half-hour trip to the vet. Since we arrived early I spent some time sitting in the trunk of my dad’s car saying good-bye to my friend of 14 years. I told him what a good dog he had been, how much joy he had brought me, and how I would never forget him. I pet him softly and apologized for any time I complained about having to take him for a walk. I kissed Tigger good-bye right before the veterinarian arrived. As we carried him inside so the vet could put him down, something incredible happened–Tigger died in our arms. We put him down on the examination table, and the vet confirmed that he passed away as my mom, sister, and I carried him from the car. Tigger decided on his own that he would pass away. He prevented us from having to go through the pain of putting him to sleep. He showed us the kind of love that he always had since we adopted him 14 years ago.
For the week after Tigger’s passing, I couldn’t bring myself to think of getting another dog. How could we ever replace Tigger? Soon I realized, however, that there was a void in our home and my heart due to not having a pet to love. Although my newest companion, Petey, can never replace Tigger, he has brought a new kind of joy to my life. I think our pets would want that for us. I don’t think our animals want us to stay sad and grieve them forever. I think Tigger would be happy knowing that I adopted another dog that I will show the same love and affection as I did to him for his whole life. We can remember and honor Tigger through loving and caring for Petey.