Our black lab Cassie gone too soon
My wife and I adopted Cassie, our black lab, from a rescue home in June of 1998, just 6 months after our wedding — she was 1 year old at the time.
From the moment we brought her home, Cassie proved to be loyal, loving, playful and protective.
When our kids were born in 2000 and 2003, Cassie welcomed them into our home and protected them like a big sister would — she was truly the best dog imaginable.
Unfortunately, and regrettably, once our children entered our lives, Cassie took a back seat to their needs. Playtime with her become shorter and the frequent walks became not so frequent. Nonetheless, Cassie gave us her unconditional love and always remained the protector of the family.
Over the last few years, Cassie’s health began to diminish. Repetitive ear infections, licking granulomas (sores), and finally arthritis all began to wear down her body.
Despite many visits to the vet clinic and various meds over these last couple years, my wife and I began to prepare for the inevitable, especially within the last 6 months.
The once-playful Cassie was long gone, and her up-and-down health was beginning to take an emotional toll on all of us, especially our kids who often thought she was nearing the end.
Early last week, Cassie’s licking sores and arthritis were so bad that she almost couldn’t pick herself up off the floor to get outside. Once outside, she couldn’t climb up the two steps to get back into the house — my wife had to help her.
Later that evening, my 8 year old son asked to “speak with me in private” to discuss Cassie. Fighting through the tears, he told me that he didn’t want to see Cassie suffer any longer — he just wanted her to be happy and without pain.
As the week went on, Cassie’s condition remained relatively unchanged, some days being slightly better than others. Nonetheless, I took Cassie into the vet clinic on Saturday morning (10/22) to find out what our options were.
The doctor made it clear that Cassie was in severe discomfort. She said that although there is no guaranteed cure for the licking sores, she could try some meds to treat her ear infections and arthritis.
Thinking of the emotional roller coaster it had been for the last few years watching her health go up and down, and facing the reality of the mounting medical costs for continued treatment and meds, I made the dreaded decision to end her pain once and for all.
Up to that point, life was pretty normal. As I said earlier, my wife and I spoke often about this day, so we “thought” we were prepared for it — we couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I knelt by Cassie’s side during the process to comfort her, I broke down and immediately began to regret my decision. Was this what Cassie wanted? Did I take the easy way out?
Cassie was nearing 15 years old, and was undoubtedly closer to the end than the beginning of her life.
Nonetheless, I don’t know if I made the correct choice. I’d like to think that she’s running around in heaven chasing tennis balls and squirrels, but without knowing for sure, I can’t help but to think that I ended her life prematurely.
These last few days have been very hard on all of us, especially for me and my wife. For the last 13 years and 4 months, each morning at home started by letting Cassie out, waiting for her loud bark, and letting her back in for breakfast.
We weren’t prepared for that absence from our lives. As I said earlier, Cassie took a backseat once our children entered our lives. We now feel incredible guilt for that as well. We loved her, but we didn’t show it enough of the latter years.
My advice to all is to show your dog love each and every day, don’t take him or her for granted, and perhaps most importantly, prepare yourself completely for that inevitable day and if the choice is yours to make, be 100% certain in advance.
Cassie, we will always love and miss you! You were a wonderful part of this family and you will never be forgotten!