Our family dog that Anna adores passed away today. Coco was a sweet, loving, kind dog and could be fully trusted with children of any age. She was 17 years old and had congestive heart failure and so despite multiple medications, her heart was failing. The cardiologist noted that he had never seen a heart that large before-that she was a miracle. They kept telling us she probably only had 6 months to live, but she lived 3 years past that prediction, and for that, I’m grateful. My middle daughter, age 7, asked me, “Why is her heart so big, Mama? Did she love too many people?” Precious, sometimes I do think she did because Coco was just that loving. Anna would play with Coco, but would also pull her tail at times. Coco’s position though during mealtime was always below Anna, as she waited for any droppings from Anna’s plate, or waiting until Anna herself would give her food. Anna would excitedly request to give Coco a treat every time it was time for Coco’s medicine. Anna’s chores included putting food into Coco’s bowl. She would carry the large plastic container, put it next to her food bowl, take out the scooper and pour it in. For the most part, she did well, but occasionally she would spill it all around which was ok, too, because Anna would use her little fingers to pick it right back up and into her bowl. It gave her a “chore” and a sense of responsibility, and something she can feel proud of as well so I encouraged her in this.
When we saw that Coco was too weak to even stand, we took her to the vet and I let Anna know that this time, she would not be coming back. Anna replied, “I want Coco to go home. I want Coco to stay at home with you, me, and Cha-chan (grandma). I want Coco to stay with me.” We all do, precious, but, unfortunately it’s not possible this time. This was Anna’s first major loss at age 4. She didn’t seem to understand really which I was grateful for as opposed to my 12 year old son who cried, devastated, and heart-broken. I asked Anna to say good bye to Coco and she did. She had a smile on her face, said good bye, and then hugged and kissed her. As we got in the car to leave, she asked, “Where is Coco?” I told her, “we have to leave her here.” To this day, when we ask, “where is Coco?” Anna says, “in the hospital.” As I work through the pain, I am once again made aware of the reality that life always has its ups and its downs. There’s truly a time for everything with various “seasons” of life. For now, with Anna’s face shining brightly, I’m thankful, and I rejoice in each day that I am here with my family and recognize it as a gift.