It's been a few weeks now since we said goodbye to Spike and I have to be honest, the house just isn't the same without him. Even though we still have Lola and even though we have lots of different dogs visiting us there is just something missing.
It's hard to put your finger on it really. He just isn't here and that doesn't feel right at all. I'm not sure what I miss the most about him. Maybe it's tripping over him when he's so excited to see you that his entire body wags under your feet. Maybe it's the feel of his beautiful soft ears that seem to make everything ok. Or maybe it is the fact that whenever we drop food on the floor we now have to pick it up ourselves! It's probably a mixture of a few of these things, if not more.
In the days leading up to saying goodbye to Spike we made sure we took lots of pictures of us with him. We wanted something to look back on and we wanted the chance to say goodbye. We loved him. We hugged him and we cried for him. On the morning we were going to say goodbye to him we made sure the children had the chance to say their goodbyes.They seemed to be dealing with it well. We had been preparing them for a while that Spike was poorly and had told them that today was the day he was going to doggy heaven and that he wouldn't be there when they got home that night. They seemed to accept this and all said their goodbyes.
As the day went on I felt sicker and sicker. Making that decision was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. What made it harder was that, despite the pain and discomfort he was in, his tail was still wagging. The time came to take Spike to the vets and I'll admit I was a mess. The dark sunglasses couldn't contain the tears that flowed or the feeling of dread. We fed him treats all the way to the vets. As many as he wanted. Why not? There is a field next to our vets so we took him for one last walk. I sobbed my way round that field for two reasons. One- seeing him bunny hop his way round made me realise that we really were making the right decision. And two- it brought back memories of his 4th birthday when, in beautiful evening sunshine, we took him for a walk and Gareth said to me "whatever you do, don't have that baby tomorrow....." For those of you that don't know, I ignored him completely and Charlie, our eldest, was born the next day. Spike did, however, present us with one last parting gift- a nice steaming pile of poo!
We took him into the vets and they were lovely. Through my tears they explained to me what was going to happen and that Spike wouldn't feel any pain. He would just go to sleep. The nurse came in and she cuddled Spike around the neck to keep him still. I stroked him and Gareth fed him treats. As he left us I'd like to think he was the happiest dog he could have been. What more could a labrador want than cuddles, strokes and food?! In fact I know he was happy because he wagged his tail till the last second.
The staff at the vets were lovely. They laid him out comfortably and left us alone with him. We took his collar off and said goodbye. Mostly we said thank you. For being the best dog we could have asked for and for being there through everything for us. I know I've said it before but we honestly could not have asked for a better, more loving or more faithful dog.
Leaving him there in that room was hard. Walking out of the vets with just a collar was even harder. There wasn't much to say on the way home. What can you say? We know in our hearts it was the right decision and the right time but it still hurt.
We were asked what we wanted to happen to Spike and we chose to have him cremated. We recently got his ashes back and our plan is to sprinkle them at Dunham Massey. He loved it there and we loved taking him there. I want to let his ashes fly off into the wind so I know he is free in a place he loved.
In the meantime life goes on. It has to when you have 3 kids and full time jobs. We still have Lola and, whilst she is completely different to Spike, she is wonderful too. Life will never be quite the same without Spike though and we will always remember him. Our faithful friend.
Goodnight Spike, sleep well. Cross the rainbow bridge and run free. (P.S- I case you're wondering....yes, I am sobbing as I write this!)