On Tuesday we made the decision that we had to let Kaktus go.
His stress came back and I started to just sit and stare into the wall for long periods of time while I heard him pace back and forth whining. Bella had trouble relaxing and we were all drained. The world felt smaller and smaller and everything got claustrophobic. It was painful to see his frustration and it was so easy to see how tired he was at the same time and I had no more tools to help him. I knew from the previous times we went through this, that when he got through this stage, the next one was apathy. Then he would be so mentally exhausted that playing with his wobbler could be too stressful. Then there would be the slow process of building him back up, piece by piece, slowly stimulate his brain, find small joys, keep him away from anything that could stress him, retrain him and then we would see him blossom. He would turn into the perfect, funny, happy, carefree Kaktus that we enjoyed so much. His recall was like a happy rocket launch every time, he had brilliant impuls control, he loved to train and explore the world and his triggers almost vanished. He was a perfect playmate and friend to Bella and it lasted for a long time until we started to reach the end of summer. Then the cracks started to become visible and they slowly grew. Slowly but surely he headed back into a world of frustration and stress.
I couldn’t let him go through this again. All I wanted was that he would sleep and finally we got rid of our tunnel vision and saw the big picture. The one you know is there but you just don’t want to see it. Wendesday was tough as we just sat there waiting for the vet clinic to open so we could call. She wasn’t in and we had to wait until 13 in the afternoon to talk to her. Going through that whole day being so afraid that doubt would creep in and take over while seeing him pace around was agony. When we finally spoke to her, she was very understanding and the first thing she did was to reassure us that we had made the right choice. She scheduled and appointment for the next morning. The rest of that day we just made sure both Bella and Kaktus had the best time possible. He finally got chews he hadn’t been able to enjoy because of his allergies, we played games and took small seperate walks.
The next morning I took Kaktus out alone to the barn. We had an hour walk that was really nice. He was tracking scents in the field and he checked in with me regularly for a treat and some opportunities to train and I just let him choose what he wanted to do. He had a happy and nice last walk and it meant the world to me to have that moment with him. When we came home he got his Kong to enjoy and then my mom came to drive us to the vet. He did not want to go in and was stressing and whining. I tried to be as composed as I could but of course he knew I wasn’t myself. He got the first injection while I held him and before he fell asleep he was busy eating yummy treats from the floor and from my hand. The last thing he did was chew on a yummy treat while falling alseep. Before getting the last injection we covered him in my coat so we could bring his smell back to Bella so she would know he had finally got his peace. At the vet I could finally stop being composed, I could finally let myself cry and sob. I didn’t have to stay strong for him anymore. Much of it is a blur and some things are so extremely vivid.
On the way back I stopped by a pet store to buy treats for Bella. It was good to finally do something for her. For so long I have neglected her because Kaktus needed so much help. Reidar has been there for her but I haven’t. When I got home I put my jacket with Kaktus scent on the floor together with his harness (he wore that through everything). She first went for the exhiting bag of treats, then she came and inspected me thourogly and especially my right hand that had been stroking Kaktus. She didn’t just smell it she carefully tasted the smell, then she did the same with my jacket and she licked, sniffed and tasted his harness until she finally went for the treat bag again and took out some boring tooth sticks that she really don’t like all that much. I gave her a better chew and she was happily chewing on the floor. When she was done with it she inspected me, the jacket and the harness again. Still tasting the smell. Then she went for the boring sticks again. The rest of the day she slept really well and dreamt a lot. She seemed very happy and content and there was no sign of her looking for Kaktus. She only checked his harness a few times.
The next days have been really strange. At times my head is just completely empty and everything is so quiet. We have talked a lot about everything, how we feel, our doubts, our guilt, our belief in the choice we made and the feeling of a great loss. Yesterday we went out with Bella and suddenly the world shifted on me, everything changed, I felt like Kaktus essence was lying like a carpet over everyting in the landscape. I have never felt anything like this before and it’s still there today. I think this became my grief and now it’s there all the time, it’s beautiful, overwhelming and very painful. I haven’t been able to walk Bella myself but we do all walks together for now. It’s such a comfort to see her strut around, eagerly exploring. She hasn’t been like this since Kaktus started stressing and today she had a real joyrun in the field. Now the world will finally revolve around her and she really deserves it! I am glad that she doesn’t seem to miss him at all and instead seems to be carefree and as if she has become lighter.
Bella sniffing the air. Very likely a deer scent 🙂
I will always wonder if we did enough, if we did too much, what was his demons, did I fail my best friend. But I am so grateful to have had him in my life. He has taught me so much about myself, about dogs in general, about life and now about what it means to loose a great love. I will miss him so much and I will always be changed because of him.