The last week of Sweet Pea’s life was a sad reality for me, something I had hoped would never happen. I thought and wanted Sweet Pea to live forever. I could not imagine my life without her. Sweet Pea no longer wanted to sleep in our bed and I spent the last 3 nights of her life sleeping on the living room couch. Sometimes we would cuddle and other times she would wander around the living room always finding her face straight up against the wall. She stopped barking and would make this noise to let me know when to let her down so she could walk. I did know if this was her new voice or it was an indication she was in pain. She was no longer barking.
After the first night sleeping on the couch and seeing Sweet Pea in constant motion, I changed her pain pills to something stronger. This slowed her down quite a bit and I knew the end had to come soon for her sake. On Tuesday I made the decision to put her to sleep. I thought Tuesday would be the day, but the timing was off so I decided I wanted one more day with Sweet Pea. Everything was set for Thursday.
This is where I say ending Sweet Pea’s life was the right thing to do. The hardest decision I had to make but she was telling me it was time. We are able to do this for animals but unfortunately for humans with similar health and quality of life issues such is not the case.
Many years ago a friend took me to The Pine Ridge Cemetery in Dedham the oldest pet cemetery in the country. The cemetery is an incredible place. I bought a lot near a beautiful tree that could accommodate both of my girls when the time came. I must admit that I was thinking of changing my mind and having Sweet Pea cremated so she could be with me forever. I think seeing her every day would be hard for me and for those who know me said the urn would be one more thing to dust which apparently I don’t do well. So I stuck to the plan that I made in the late 90’s and Sweet Pea would be buried. Everyone at Pine Ridge was very helpful in coordinating the burial to accommodate us.
As I held Sweet Pea wrapped in a towel on our way to Angell to put her to rest, she coughed twice as if she had a fur ball in her throat. When we checked in at Angell they escorted us to a private room. Dr. Quinn came in and we spoke. She took Sweet Pea and put her on a couch and said Sweet Pea was not breathing. Sweet Pea had passed away on her own. Sweet Pea and I had both decided that it was her last day. We did not have to put her down but I did ask we give Sweet Pea a little something to make sure she was gone. I had a fear that she might appear to be gone but would be buried alive. Dr. Quinn took her back to give her a little something and to remove her pacemaker. Her pacemaker still had life to it and would be given to another dog in need. Robin, our good friend who also took care and loved Sweet Pea came to visit us and I gave her Sweet Pea’s medication hoping that someone else could use it.
When all was done we took Sweet Pea in a cardboard coffin out the side door and went to the Pine Ridge Cemetery in Dedham to meet with Mike and bury my Sweet Pea. It was a very hot day and I had brought a winter robe of mine that had our scents on it. I wanted Sweet Pea to be wrapped in it so Kudzu and I would always be with her. I took the Jewish star from Sweet Pea’s collar and asked for it to be placed next to her. Mike did his magic and Sweet Pea was placed in a coffin made by prisoners. Sweet Pea looked peaceful and was truly at rest.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston operates Pine Ridge Cemetery and one of their services is providing grief counseling. The next day I received a call from Jane Nathanson from Petlifeandloss.com. We had a wonderful conversation. I know I can and most likely will call Jane back to speak and touch base. Jane felt I had a good handle on the situation and my concerns for Kudzu, how she felt, what she was going through and how I needed to help her with the adjustment of losing her mother was very important to consider at this time.
One week has passed since we buried Sweet Pea, our hearts are still broken. The thought of food is still not appealing but somehow each day we do a little more. I want to thank our friends at Angell , Pine Ridge Cemetery and Jane Nathanson for all the help and support they gave us during this very difficult time.