I couldn't give him everything

I couldn't give him everything

The word of the day is "guilt."

Since we said goodbye to our fourteen-year-old lab on Monday, my mood has swung wildly from acceptance to despair, hitting every emotion in between.

I know we did the right thing for him. Even if I wasn't ready for him to go, it was time. At the very end, he knew it, too, finally giving up on pacing the floor and lying on the blanket the vet had put down for him.

But today I keep thinking about all the times I locked him downstairs when I was playing with the babies upstairs.

I think about the walks not taken, and his face in the window as I left him behind.

I think about everything I could've done, but didn't, the times I had to choose the kids or myself over him. Sometimes he didn't take the hint, and I resented him for it.

I'm Oscar Schindler with his ring, his last bit of gold. What if I'd made more time for Indy, took him to the park more frequently, played ball in the yard every chance we had.

If I'd done those things, would I be sitting here crying now?

And when I look back on my kids' childhoods will I see all the times I let them play video games instead of, I don't know, doing crossword puzzles or...what kinds of creative pursuits do good parents who make time for their kids even do?

But the truth is, if I look at this objectively as an outsider, I was there for him, the dog. For about twelve years of his life, I was home with him all day, every day. I did walk him. I probably could've walked him more when the kids were little, but, heck, he had a yard to run around in if he needed to. I made sure he was fed and taken care of. We did allow him upstairs with us for good chunks of the day. He got treats every time he wanted them, i.e. every time he threw his Kong toy at me.

I made his vet appointments and gave him his heartworm pill on the fifteenth of every months for fourteen years. Once the kids were more self-sufficient, he started walking with us to school every single day. That lasted three or four years.  When the vet told me he had a spine issue and would probably be gone within a year, I did my best to keep him comfortable and active. He lasted more than a year and a half.

I did that. I was there for him. I got up with him at night every time he needed to go to the bathroom. I watched him like a hawk when he was sick. I calmed him through seizures and tried not to make him feel bad when he started having accidents in the house. I held him and stroked his fur as he drifted away from us.

I lived for him, as much as I could have. I wasn't perfect, but then neither was he.

I couldn't give him everything, but I gave him everything I could.

I write books! You should read them.

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