I do not have a lot of experience communicating with animals. I have such a soft spot for animals in my heart. And I especially love dogs. If I could I would probably have a whole farm of rescue animals who get to run around and frolic all day. Although I’d love to communicate with all animals, it is not my strong suit. I know that there are people who do this who are brilliant in this capacity. I must admit that I answer this question begrudgingly because I judge myself when saying what really happened, because talking to animals sounds crazy to me, like I am some sort of fairytale character like Snowwhite.
During the summer my husband and I found out that our sweet rescue boxer Gretchen had cancer. The doctors could not do anything about it, and we knew that the kindest thing we could do would be to put her to sleep. It was up to me to choose the time and date of her death. This decision was like an emotional punch to my ethical conscious and my heart. The last thing I wanted to do was do something so unnatural, like choose the time of my dear dog’s death. However, watching her become weaker and weaker was breaking my heart, and I knew it was cruel to keep her alive. I could see the suffering in her eyes. I cried as I petted her. I called the vet to make the appointment, but I could not do it. I broke down on the phone and just could not follow through. I turned to her and told her, “You tell me when it’s time. Please, just tell me. I cannot choose for you. You let me know, and I swear I will listen.” Gretchen and I sat on the day bed on our enclosed front porch the whole day. I called my neighbor who adored Gretchen and told him the news. He said he would come immediately after work to see her. I waited for Gretchen to give me a sign, as I was not strong enough to make the decision myself. Right before my neighbor arrived, I felt a message from Gretchen. She told me, “It is time now. I cannot stay here because it is too much for you and Daniel.” (He was taking exams at school and having three dogs in a small house was a lot of work and was stressful.) “There is not enough room for me for when the baby gets here. Thank you for the most wonderful year of my life.” I cried and hugged her hard. My neighbor arrived to say goodbye to her. I called the vet and we left immediately. Gretchen had waited to say goodbye to my neighbor because she knew it was important for him to say goodbye.
My husband and I knew Gretchen had picked the perfect time to go. She left before his exams so he would not be mourning during them. We are still waiting for the baby to arrive, but we know that she was right, that it was too much for us to handle. She is such a dear, sweet dog, and I feel her presence with me right now as I write this.
It is now two years later, and our sweet human baby arrived in December! We still thank our sweet canine baby Gretchen for the love that she shared with us!