We made eye contact. I held his gaze, firm and steady, for what felt like the longest time ever.
His unique, green eyes looked familiar and ever-adoring. There was no mistaking his love for me – a love so pure and real – one difficult to go without once experienced, and one rarely found among most people.
His giant-like stature belied his true docile nature – a genuine gentleman with an unwavering loyalty.
Irrespective of the intensity of my mood, his mere presence in a room had the ability to soothe my mind and comfort my heart better than any meditation technique I’ve ever attempted.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him.
My immobility enabled me to fake calmness in sharp contrast to the frenzy of emotion going on inside of me.
I knew that he trusted me wholeheartedly which made things even more difficult.
Overwhelming, self-consuming guilt forced me to look away.
How could I do this? How could I?
But, I had to. I argued with myself. It was the right thing to do. Wasn’t it?
Then, why did I feel so doubtful? Why did it feel like I was committing the ultimate betrayal? Why did I feel sick to my stomach?
Dear God, why did I have to be the one to make this decision?
I had made the call. Now, all that was left was to wait.
The vet was on his way.
In the animal world it’s known as euthanasia. In the human world, we call it assisted suicide.
When you eventually get to a point where you have got to make the choice to “put your best friend down”, it feels like murder.
You can play with semantics all you like, when you share a deep love and respect, it remains the most gut-wrenching, soul destroying option on the planet.
Not too long ago, Matfield, my gentle giant of a Great Dane was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive condition that would result in him being paralysed.
I was in shock. I was not expecting that. My big, clumsy baby was only four-and-a-half years old.
Matfield had led a happy and healthy life. I was aware that all large dogs, more especially the giant-breed canines, are often prone to hip, bone and spine complications. But, not so soon. Surely?
But, I still had time. I consoled myself.
Although the vet warned that in some dogs the progression is rapid, I chose to ignore that.
I read up as much as I could on the disease so that I could prepare myself mentally for what was coming. I knew that he wasn’t going to experience any pain. My vet also confirmed that there was nothing that could be done.
I hadn’t noticed but, Matfield had displayed all of the early warning signs. I tortured myself. How on earth could I have been so blind?
No amount of reading or psychological priming could prepare me for the events of last week and its aftermath. I’m utterly gutted.
Seeing my most cherished companion unable to get up with untold fear in his eyes and panicked panting in confused response; hearing my protector’s last fighting, deep-throated growl as the needle went in; smelling the deadly anesthesia as it permeated the air with me, at that very moment, secretly and shamefully wishing to accidentally be given a dose as well; not even being able hold my loyal guardian myself, having to rely on poor old Dad, who himself was distraught, to keep him calm is enough torment to last ten lifetimes.
Today, one week ago, Matfield crossed over the rainbow bridge.
Dear God, when I die, may I please go where Matfield went.