On Sunday, my good dog Shiloh died.
It was a typical morning of her lounging around the house and, after going out for her morning poo, she walked back seeming normal and then it happened. Her back legs shuddered and she collapsed. She just stayed there, lying half in the living room and half in the kitchen, motionless, with ever slowing breath and a blank stare.
After Susan and I sat with her on the floor for a while, petting her and worrying over her, she tried to get up and collapsed again, her breathing slowed almost to a stop and it seemed that this was the end. She ended up having one last effort to turn it around and walked into the kitchen for a drink of water. Susan offered it to her but she didn't drink. She then went straight for the bedroom, walking as if in an extreme drunken stupor, and lay down in her favorite sleeping spot.
We knew then, that she was preparing to die. We didn't know what to do for sure but decided to go to the vet with her because we didn't know how long it would be before she would die or if there was a slight chance we could save her. She is a tough one and could try to hold on and suffer for a long time. I didn't want her to suffer. She lived such a long, good life and I didn't want to see it end poorly for her.
At the vet, she continued to go down hill and our friend Darcy (who luckily was the vet on duty for the day) told us the expected news that Shiloh was in deed dying. We made the decision right there to put her to sleep.
We then spent the next half hour petting her and loving her as much as we could until she took her last breath. I remember kissing her on the forehead and then sobbing, suddenly feeling a huge void in my life and massive pain in my heart. Very sad day.
After she died on Sunday and I have had days to cry, reflect and process I am left with the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I have been able to spend 14 years with Shiloh (she died at 16 (I got her from the pound when I was 23)). We, literally, explored every nook and cranny of the Northwest and Southwest together as I explored endless mountains and canyons for rocks to climb and climbed at countless established areas all the while living in Bellingham and Flagstaff and going through multiple relationships. She was always by my side. We were joined at the hip. Buddies. As everything kept changing in my life, Shiloh was the one constant.
Now, it's hard to go through the routine at home as I feel that she will come around the corner to want a pet or go outside. Also, going to the outdoors is a bit tough as I have had deep experiences in pretty much every spot around Flagstaff with her.
In the last few days though, I have gotten better about thinking of all the good memories and being thankful for my time with her when those sad feelings arise. Just yesterday, I was running up on the Dry Lake Hills, starting on the same trail she took a hike on with Susan the day before she died, and when I reached a high point on Brookbank, I looked out over the rolling forest around Flagstaff and remembered as many of the adventures Shiloh and I had in those woods as I could muster. I said a silent thanks for all my time with her and tried to picture her running sections of the trail with me as she did when she was young. It felt good to remember her in a positive way instead of feeling only sadness.
Now, I can't say that I won't cry anymore (I am crying right now...) over her but hopefully the tears will continue to turn to happy ones instead of sad ones as time goes on. In fact, I'm not sure if I ever want to 'stop' crying over her altogether. I don't want to forget how much I love her.
Love you Shiloh. You were the best and I will always try to remember how it felt to pet you, hug you and love you as you were always by my side. Thank you for your time in my life.
(Family walking home after swimming at Fossil Creek one week before Shiloh died.)