We lost our “puppy-pup” today, a 13-year-old West Highland terrier named Snickers. Two days ago, I awoke with the words, “…say goodbye to Snickers”…something inside of me responded “Does he want to stay here on Earth?” and heard “No.”
I just let the message go.
Last night, I saw him for the first time since Christmas and noticed he’d lost a lot of weight. Tears fell from my eyes, but my long hair hid them from my family. They asked me to sit on their couch and so I did (and I usually don’t because I’m usually painting or metalsmithing upstairs). Snickers sat between my sister-in-law and myself as we watched “Star Wars”. Eventually, he moved closer to her, but still watched me. He was shivering and I told him that he did a good job, that he didn’t need to stay here if he didn’t want to.
Today, my brother knocks on my door and tells me Snickers regurgitated his food onto their bed during the night and this morning sat outside by himself on the property’s outskirts as if to separate himself from the pack. He was taken in for tests. My brother and I crying, I tell him about the “…say goodbye to Snickers” message and he nods. He says they’ll keep him at the hospital for another day until they know more. I nod. A couple of hours later, my 19-year-old nephew knocks on my door to let me know the test results came back: they found something sizeable on Snicker’s liver.
We drive to the animal hospital. We all luxuriate in our chance to say goodbye to Snickers, crying, laughing, and crying. We take turns holding him. They take a photo for my niece who’s away in Paris visiting her boyfriend. We go through two boxes of tissues.
After Snickers passes away, my sister-in-law removes his woven green collar that now just reads “.NICKE…” and tucks it away. The vet takes away his body. We give each other hugs. As we leave the room, I realize I never imagined I’d be at my brother’s home to say goodbye to Snickers, as also my nephew who’s usually away at school. (It’s also a running family joke that the dog prefers my nephew over my niece, so I guess everyone is exactly where they need to be.)
When we get back to the house, everyone follows their New Year’s Eve scheduled plans. I go upstairs and realize that of Snickers which I’ll always remember:
Our last walk together (we didn’t know it’d be our last walk together and the other house visitors decided not to come along): misted sky, tiny glass globes hanging off of tree tips, and the whole wooded trail to ourselves because it was a rainy Christmas Eve and somehow I got him to be okay with walking in the rain. Droplets tapping earth-covered leaves, he sniffed everything at leisure because I had just played with the two youngest boys of the family; the dog and I both knew Snickers could feel the joy of timelessness shared. The smell of spruce filled our nostrils as we meandered up and down the hill together.
This walk was one of the most magical walks of our lives.
Rest in peace to the beloved animals, artists, and loved ones that we lost in 2016….