I guess we’re supposed to accept that loss is a part of life, a major part of life. But it never gets easier. On Saturday my family and I unexpectedly lost our dog, Lamar. He was a chubby chocolate lab that lit up every room his unnaturally curly tail wagged through. Lamar was only six years old, and up until Saturday he was the happiest and healthiest dog that I’ve ever seen. Greeting everyone with a snaggle toothed smile and a tail wagging a mile a minute, he stole the heart of everyone who had the chance to pet him.
He went outside Saturday to pee when I woke up, as usual. Only this time was different. Instead of hearing his bark asking to come back inside, I found him lying in the sun beside a large pile of throw up. He wouldn’t move, only lie there. I lured him into the house and once inside he once again laid on the floor and wouldn’t move. He wouldn’t drink water, he wouldn’t smile or respond to high pitched pupper talk. Lamar just sat there with his eyes half open, breathing heavy.
I informed my mom and she called the vet, only for us to be told to bring him as soon as we could. When we pulled into the parking lot there were nurses at my car asking if we were here with Lamar. I was in disbelief how on the ball and ready they were for our pet emergency, and on a busy Saturday yet. Very impressive. They took him from us and rushed him into a room, leading us in the opposite direction to wait. We were quickly informed that Lamar had a tumor on what they thought was his spleen and informed us that they had to do emergency surgery. Damn. I had woken up about two hours ago, and thank goodness I didn’t have time to put makeup on because I was then standing in a room with tears streaming down my face wondering how we got here.
We were told he had a 50/50 chance, and that we couldn’t see him because he was already being prepped for surgery and it would start as soon as we gave the go ahead. If it was a tumor on his spleen it could be removed, and if they opened him up to find more we would have to consider putting him down. My mind raced. He was all alone and scared, torn away from us without a chance to even hug him or say goodbye. I thought for sure it was just a stomach bug, or maybe he bit a bee and had an allergic reaction like our old dog. I never imagined that watching the nurse rush him across the parking lot would be my last glimpse of my dog.
We got sent home to wait, and shortly after received a phone call. Too shortly. Nothing good can happen with an emergency surgery in only 20 minutes. It was a tumor, a tumor that burst, but it was wrapped around his main artery. Apparently his stomach was already filled with blood, and if they tried to remove the tumor he would bleed out. They could wake him up for us to come say goodbye, but they told us he’d be gone within 30 minutes, if even that long. My mom had to make the terrible decision to have him put to sleep during the surgery. We didn’t want him suffering. And as badly as we wanted to say goodbye, and as unfair as I think it is that I didn’t get to, I’m glad that I remember him with a smile and a wagging tail rather than how he would’ve looked lying on that vet table.
So that was it. Lamar, who was barking and “talking” to my dad on the phone two hours before that, was gone. Forever. Speaking of my dad; my dad is a truck driver. He goes out over the road for a month and comes home for about three days. Every pet is loved by the whole family, but holds an extremely special place in one specific family member’s heart. The pet that clung to my heartstrings was our old cat, Snowie. My mom’s was our old dog, Kipper. Lamar? He was my dad’s; my dad, who was stuck in Utah, hours and miles away from our home in Pennsylvania. We had to break the news to him over the phone, and it was heartbreaking.
Now I hear my mom blaming herself, wondering what she did wrong. She’s going through every decision she ever made, and everything that has ever happened, combing through memories looking for something that could have changed the outcome. She’s wondering if she made the right decision. She didn’t have time to think about anything at the time, the whole event took place within about three hours. Now she has too much time to sit and think. There was nothing she could do. The vet told us that he could have had the tumor for YEARS, and we never would have known. He never showed symptoms of being sick, so we never had reason to have him x-rayed. He could have lived for years with it unknowingly, but it unfortunately burst.
Why do things like this happen? Sure, it makes us stronger. It’s true that we shouldn’t be sad that we lost something, we should be happy that we were able to enjoy it while we had it. But loss is hard, and it doesn’t make sense. Lamar was only six years old. He should have had years and years of life left.
Our house is so damn quiet now, it’s deafening. It feels so empty to walk in the door and not be greeted by his big nose poking you to see where you came from. Coming home from work I had to cry. Lamar always met me at the door and shoved his nose up my dress. He had the cutest weirdo quirks. It feels wrong to eat without him sitting beside me with his head on my lap, waiting for me to sneak him something. I even miss his annoying whining and barking to get outside every five seconds. As many times as I got frustrated with it, I’d give anything to hear it right now. I can’t even drink water without missing him, because he’d always know the exact second you finished a bottle of water and run to your side to grab the bottle and chew it until the cap popped off.
I can’t understand why the world takes such beautiful souls so early. I can’t find a reason that a pet that was so loved would be ripped from his family so unexpectedly. It of course doesn’t end with Lamar; my mind can’t wrap itself around loss at all. It’s a cycle, the cycle of life. But it’s vicious, and it’s hard. Pets are family members. I always see people say, “We don’t deserve dogs.” We don’t deserve them, but we need them.
Lamar, like so many other pets, was so full of love and fun. He brought so much life to our house and our lives, more than we ever knew. I hope doggy heaven is full of endless scratches and nummies. I hope my Lamar has all the tennis balls and empty water bottles that he could ever want. Between my mom, my dad, and I, so many tears have been shed in these past few days we could have flooded our tiny town. What an awful, unexpected turn of events.
We loved you so dearly, Lamar, and you are so incredibly missed.