Her life left her like a cold whispering winter wind. He continues to hold her, more for himself than her. He comforted her until the end, being strong, stroking her ears. She always loved that.
They sit together alone, waiting. Her soulful brown eyes never leave his. She knew it was time.
She licks his hand and ruffs at him, like in the old days. He almost loses it then.
He whispers to her while stroking her silken white fur and ears softly, his tears held back with tremendous effort.
The veterinarian comes in the room. They both turn and look at him as he enters. The room seems to shrink, the air thickens and his throat tightens as the finality of it starts to sink in.
“She won’t feel a thing and she will be in a better place. You gave her an amazing life of which she is eternally grateful, but she is in too much pain, the cancer too far along. It is time to give her peace."
He nods his head and watches the injection; she flinches a little and looks up at him with her expressive eyes, they appear to be thanking him.
She reaches out with her paw and grasps his hand as she always did. He scratches her neck and she squeezes. The light in her eyes slowly dims and her grip weakens. Her head moves slowly to one side and softly rests against her left front leg.
He continues to caress and soothe her but his breath is coming in short haggard gasps now, the inevitability of the situation crushing him. Why her, why now?
The veterinarian listens to her heart and looks up. He moves his head slowly back and forth.
“Please can I be alone with her for a while?” Tears start to form and his voice cracks.
“Sure, take your time. No rush.”
“Thank you Dr. Rooney for everything," He stands unsteadily. "you were there fourteen years ago when I got her and have been with her ever since. She really did not mind coming here even though she knew she was going to be poked and prodded. But, oh, how she loved you especially. I could tell.”
“I was quite smitten with her myself, a simply amazing dog.”
They shake hands.
“Now I will leave you to say your goodbye.” Dr. Rooney shuts the door quietly.
Alone now, the room silent, except for his heavy breathing and the emptiness, he turns to her, takes her into his arms, and holds her close. The tears come fast. He promised to be strong for her but now he needs to let it out, all the hurt, the anguish, the pain.
With his arms wrapped around her tightly he clings to her, sobbing, remembering the fourteen years they had together.
Memories explode to the surface in an indiscriminate wave washing over him in a glut of joy and sorrow; the day he brought her home when she was just a little white fluff ball, how she cried in her crate that first night, missing her brothers and sisters. He remembers their first Christmas together when she jumped on his back and chewed on his neck when he was tightening the Christmas tree stand. The time they spent training, the walks around the neighborhood and the hours and days spent together at the camp walking through the woods while she chased chipmunks and squirrels. Sunday afternoons at his parent’s house watching her chase the horses around and play with their two dogs Barney and JoJo.
Her whole life flashes before him and he does not know what he is going to do without her. Through the devastation of his parent's deaths, the sorrow and damage of his divorce, she was there. With a wag of her tail and a lick of his hand, she was there.
He continues to hold her. How long he doesn't know.
A gentle knock on the door draws him out of his misery.
His world turns black. He is truly alone.
He stands and turns, leaving all the good that he had left in the world lying dead and cold on a table.