My sweet 10-year-old golden retriever Daphne passed away in her sleep early this morning.
I knew that my time with her would be limited but I never expected her to slip away as quickly as she did. She had started slowing down this year, and getting that “old dog” face as her fur began to turn white. Just last week, it appeared she was having difficulty walking, losing control of her back legs, especially on the tile floor in the kitchen. Goldens are known for having issues with their hips, I thought perhaps time was finally catching up with hers. I noticed a couple times that her breathing seemed a bit heavy but thought maybe a little doggy cold was creeping in. She still had her pleasant doggy-soulful personality and did not appear to be in any obvious pain. My husband took her to the vet on Tuesday to have her checked out. He came home with awful news. She had cancer. A massive tumor was impinging on her spine, causing those rear legs to collapse. When they did x-rays to confirm, cancer was also found throughout her lungs. She was not getting the oxygen her body needed to sustain her. She gave us a prescription of prednisone to ease her pain, and we took her home, uncertain of how much time she had left.
The girls came home for Thanksgiving break on Wednesday and knew something was wrong with our sweet girl right away. We had hoped we might be able to keep the bad news from them until they were finished with final exams at college, but it was becoming clear Daphne might not have that kind of time left. We comforted her as best we could, hand feeding her some meats and wet dog food, hugs and pets and a comfy pillow to lounge on.
And I’m glad I did. Early this morning, Teddy touched me several times with his nose. I could hear Daphne’s labored breathing in the hallway. Teddy kept touching me until I got up to check on Daphne. I did my best to comfort her one last time, but I knew the dog I loved was fading fast. She died in her sleep a couple hours later. Teddy gave me one last chance to say goodbye to her.
We buried her in the backyard as a family. The girls came outside and Teddy laid quietly near by as we did what had to be done. It was terribly sad, but it felt like the right and respectful goodbye.
It is amazing what dogs seem to know and understand. Daphne stayed with us long enough for the girls to come home and have their last moments with her. She made it through Thanksgiving day, and I was so very thankful for the 10 years she gave this family. We hand fed her some bites of turkey and patted her sweet head before we went to bed last night. Then this chapter of our lives met its end this morning, free from the burden of having to make that decision ourselves to end her suffering.