Nana had been suffering from lymphoma and mammary cancer for over a year. Her pain and discomfort became too much to bear and we finally decided she was ready to move on into her next life.
In between uncontrollably crying yesterday, I sat silent most of the day. I decided the best way for me to move through my grieving process was to share Nana’s story. Her life was full of difficulty up until her last two years. Her life is so important to me and her story needs to be shared. Thanks for reading.
Husband and I had fostered a dog named Jesse James from the Washington County Humane Society a little over two years ago. I stood firm that we were foster parents and would not be adopting him. Much to Husbands dismay, Jesse was adopted by his previous foster family. He was with us for only a month.
When Husbands mom was visiting, we decided to take a trip back to the Washington County Shelter because another dog that I was considering fostering was there. When we arrived the other dog was in the process of being adopted. We were so happy! Being animal lovers we decided to go back and visit with the other shelter dogs. Sitting alone in a cage was a little old beagle named Jasmine. She had a face that only a parent could love. We looked at each other, picked her up out of the cage, marched up to the front desk and said, “She is coming home with us.”
Jasmine didn’t have much of a story. She was a stray beagle that ended up at the shelter in her old age. Judging by her teeth (which were in bad shape) the shelter believed her to be about 10 or 11 years old. Like most beagles in Washington County, she was probably a hunting beagle; unloved, over bred, and used only for a job. This was a little over two years ago.
When we got her home our little old lady fit in perfectly. I was standing firm that we were only fostering her. We even took her to an adoption event in hopes of her finding a forever home. Of course, she had other things in mind. She knew our house was just right.
After fostering Jasmine for about two months, we received a call from a family who was interested in adopting her. Husband took the call and said, “Sorry, she is no longer available.” We adopted her the next day.
Her kind and loving attitude along with her old age gave her the nickname, “Nana Bear.” This was the perfect name for our elderly lady. Her name stuck and we said goodbye to Jasmine and hello to Nana.
Nana made herself right at home. She loved to cuddle and sit on our lap. Like most beagles, she loved to eat. She loved her new brother Buddy, although she made sure to tell him when she didn’t want to play. She followed Husband around everywhere he went and we started calling her his shadow. She liked our other dogs, but she always made it clear that she loved her Daddies the most. Well, that is unless Mom-in-law was visiting.
Nana was an incredible dog. She was the most caring, gentle, and loving dog anyone could ever ask for. She never barked. She never fussed. She even taught herself to go potty in the drain in the basement. You couldn’t ask for a better dog. We loved her so much.
As time grew, Nana started to grow tumors on her little body. First, tumors started to grow on her mammary glands. We could have removed them, but with her old age the Vet advised us that her recovery may be far too hard and painful. At that point we decided that we would continue to love and care for Nana as long as she would let us.
Almost a year later, her disease spread to her lymph nodes. The lymph nodes in her neck and back legs began to grow quickly. Although we kept her on a variety of medicines they grew too quickly.
Over the past few weeks her condition began to deteriorate rapidly.
Having a sick dog is one of the hardest things to endure. Nana could never tell us when she hurt. She never barked or cried. She carried on. She gave us love always. She never let us onto her pain although we knew that she was uncomfortable. As time went on her pain got worse and worse. Over the last few days she had difficulty breathing and began to throw up everything she ate. We spoke with the Vet and had to make one of the hardest decisions ever.
When you love and care for an animal as much as we loved Nana, the decision is unbearable. I would sit next to her rubbing her head and asking for her to just tell me if she was ready, if she was done fighting. She would just look at me with those beautiful brown eyes and give me her love. That is all. That is what she was best at.
When we brought her to the vet’s office yesterday, I kept on telling her that it will be okay. It was as if there was nothing more I could say to her. I would say, “Daddy loves you” and “it will be okay.” This was the first time I have ever lost an animal and I had known it would be hard. I didn’t imagine just how hard it would be.
When we walked her into the office I started to feel numb. I lost feeling in my feet and hands. We laid her down on the couch and sat with her. We petted her and kept on telling her that it would be alright. The feeling was indescribable. I had played out in my mind what the moment might be like and it was surreal. I couldn’t believe that the day had come. I knew she was in pain. I knew what was best for her. This day when she looked at me you could tell that she was done fighting. She was ready to say goodbye.
What happened after was a blur. All I can remember is when the doctor said, “That’s it,” I burst into uncontrollable crying and hyperventilating. I couldn’t bare it. I still can’t. I could not believe our little angel was gone.
As I sat next to her, I couldn’t believe it. She just looked like she was asleep. I sat with her and the same thing kept replaying in my head, “Because I knew you, my life has been changed for good.” This line is from a song in the musical Wicked that was playing on repeat in my head. Because I knew you Nana.
I've heard it said,
That people come into our lives for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn,
And we are led,
To those who help us most to grow,
If we let them,
And we help them in return,
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true,
But I know I'm who I am today,
Because I knew you.
Like a comet pulled from orbit,
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder,
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.
I think this describes my feelings best. Nana was the so special. She was my angel. She came into our lives for a reason and brought us unbelievable joy. I love her so much. I still cry every time I think of her.
Regardless of what we believe, I know she is in a better place, a happy place. She is sending me love from wherever she is. I miss her. I will always miss her.
Because I knew you Nana Bear, my life has been changed for good.
Thank you and Daddy loves you.