Yesterday I lost two treasured companions of many years. The first, my closest companions of over 12 years was known to many of you as Nila. For those of you that did not know her, she was a beautiful, loyal, friendly, energetic, perfect German Sheppard. I was introduced to Nila by German Sheppard Rescue of the Bay Area, now a part of the German Sheppard Rescue of Northern California. Nila was looking for a home and I was looking for her. We met when she was about 1 ½ years old in June of 2000 and were rarely apart since then. We went on hikes together, over 4000 walks, she joined me for any number of my snow skiing trips and other outdoor adventures. Whenever I went into the water, be in a pool, off my boat when water skiing, or taking a swim at a lake, she was sure to let everyone know. She would even join me in the water sometimes. She joined me at the office every day for the last ten years too.
She traveled across the country with me multiple times while I lived in Indiana, we traveled the state of California a few times and she would always join me on two to four trips to Los Angeles every year as well. We got to know the rest stops very well. She loved car rides.
Nila seemed most happy when she was around other dogs. She loved to chase the dogs that were chasing a tennis ball. Nila always enjoyed it when we watched our friends’ dogs because she would have a playmate for the next few days.
Nila’s age started to catch up with her when she was around nine or ten. We still went on two walks a day and she still loved the dog park, she just slowed down a little. Around February of this year, just as she was turning thirteen, we started to notice that she wasn’t as sure on her feet as she used to be. We started to take slightly shorter walks and she ran less. In August I took her in for a senior checkup and she was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord in dogs. Ok, fine, there isn’t anything we can do to stop this, but she and I will fight it together. I got her a doggie wheelchair so we could still go out on walks, I helped her go outside a few times a day, I moved her bed downstairs because she could not navigation the steps any longer.
A few weeks ago things took a turn for the worst. Although she still enjoyed eating, she had lost over 30 pounds. She no longer enjoyed walks, so at her request we stopped trying. She kept fighting though, she didn’t want to leave me, so I stayed by her side, carrying her outside a few times a day so she could do her business, carrying her to her food, doing the best I could to keep her comfortable.
Yesterday, the day that every pet owner dreads was upon us. Our battle came to an end. It was time. I had to make the hardest decision that I have ever had to make. She had given me so much throughout her life, so many experiences, so many memories, a faithful companion through the ups and downs of my life. The least I could do was let her pain and suffering come to an end, the pain and suffering she endured for me. It was time to let her go. I could no longer watch her suffer on my accord. I knew she didn’t want to leave, but I had to make the decision that she could not make herself. Friday night she got the meal of her life, all dog treats. She knew what was happening though. Although she couldn’t move herself, she had to visit all of her favorite resting spots. If I left the room she would drag herself to the one step she couldn’t climb and whine until I came back. She hadn’t done that before to that extent. She was telling me what had to be done. Saturday morning Robin and I took her on her last car ride. Nila and I walked gracefully into her final room and we laid her down.
I was having a real hard time holding myself together. Luckily Robin was beside Nila and I the whole time and I do not think I could have done this without Robin. Unfortunately Nila noticed my anxiety and she knew what was going on. She made sure that I knew that she did not want to leave me, and that was hard. But I couldn’t let my selflessness let her suffer for me any longer. Robin and I stayed by her side, her head in my lap while she passed. The most difficult experience of my life was being there watching my Nila end but there was no way I was not going to be there for her when she was always there for me. Her whining slowed then stopped. Her last visions where of Robin and I, her last smells were of my hands on her head.
I miss my good girl, my Nila. I have never shed so many tears. There is a hole in my heart, my soul and house that will never be replaced. I know that you are in a better place now, a place with no leashes, endless lawns, countless friends for you to play with and all of the dog bones, cheese and other treats you can eat. I will always love you and will miss you forever. Your ashes will be spread over your most favorite place, the dog park that I took you to so often when you were young. Good bye for now my sweet Nila.
My other companion I knew slightly longer less, but was important to me just the same. She was Amei, my fourteen year old-ish American Short Hair (you would not have guess it though), black and grey cat. I was fortunate enough to have been able to share time with Amei with my brother and sister-in-law. She was the friendliest cat I have known. She would purr whenever anyone was holding her, which she loved. Even when she wasn’t exactly happy, as in when she was getting a bath, she would still purr. When not sitting in the sun, she would want to sit on the nearest lap, getting petted and loved. She and Nila got along great although it took Amei a few weeks to get used to this large furry thing that wanted to stick its nose in her face.
A few years ago Amei was diagnosed with feline diabetes. She took her insulin like a champ and never complained. She still enjoyed sitting in the sun and would often go outside and roam her territory. The last few months have been rough on her though. She started eating much less and didn’t want to leave her little bed behind the kitchen. I had to move her food, water and litter box so that they were close by as she didn’t have the energy to move. She stopped coming out each morning to sit on my lap when I ate breakfast or joining us in the living room when we would watch TV in the evening. I did everything I could to keep her comfortable and happy but she too was telling me it was time.
Robin and I drove her to the Cat Clinic of Davis, Amei on my lap the whole time. She never left my embrace; she did not stop purring until the end. We laid her on the table, Robin and I holding and petting her, her purring nonstop. Then it was over. Her purring stopped and her head drooped. Her last vision was of Robin and I looking at her, helping her on to her next journey.
Amei was buried in her favorite corner in my backyard, a place she used to like to sit, soak up some sun and lord over her domain. Robin and I left with her a power cord and she favorite toy she used to like to chase, as she never met a power cord she didn’t want to chew, nor a little feather on a string she didn’t want to pounce.
I do not think I will find a cat as friendly and as cuddly as Amei. I am honored to have known her and been able to care for her.
I can’t believe they are gone.
I can still see Nila lying in her favorite spot at the bottom of the stairs and when I look outside I see her playing in the back yard. When I look at the couch I see Amei sitting there looking up ready for me to join her so she can jump on my lap. My breakfast feels less filling without Amei purring away. They each had long, and I like to think, very enjoyable lives. Both went so peacefully and quickly. I am fortunate to have known them both and will always miss them.