Thursday, September 15, 2011

The End

Belle's life was ended by a vet she had never met, in a small town where noone knew her name, surrounded by an unfamiliar landscape she didn't get the chance to explore.  She was old, in pain and ready to go.  I, on the other hand, being human and selfish was not ready to let go of her and felt that the breath had been sucked from me and my heart would burst from my throat.
The other dogs viewed her body, sniffed and moved on.  Her son, Bug, rolled on his back for a belly rub.  They accepted the change from life to death instinctively and without grief - maybe they know something I don't.
Change is hard for me.  Which is an odd one as my husband Steve and I have forced change on ourselves from the time we met.  We have constantly been reshaping our lives, moving, making plans.  All of which seem to be leading somewhere we don't yet know - that place where we can say: "Yes, this is where I want to live out my days, this is where I want to be put in the ground at the end of it. This is home."
Putting Belle in the ground on the 20 acres of Okanogan Highlands that we have just moved to was unsettling to me.  Being from Scotland, and having lived in rainy western Washington state for the past four years I am finding the beautiful, remote mountainside we are living on so different than what I am used to.  The heat, the dry grasses and the thin film of dust which covers us, our two boys and all the animals isn't what I'm used to and I have not embraced these things yet.  The crickets drowning out the sound of the birds unnerves me. When we first arrived I dismissed the soil as too thin and rocky to suppport a vegetable garden.  I'm not sure this is where we are meant to end up and if we do move Belle won't be coming with us and we won't have her grave to sit next to or be able to press our hands into the dirt above her as if we could still pat her.
But when we dug down to bury her, I realised the soil was deeper and more fertile than I had believed.  Maybe something will take root here.
Time will tell.
I feel disoriented without my companion for the past thirteen years.  But I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe she is teaching me that the only way to know you are found, that you have ended up in life exactly where you are supposed to be - is to first get completely lost.


  1. You did the kind thing—but I know, from personal experience, that those words won't be enough. It will be years before you can think of her grave in joyful remembrance rather than in grief, but when you do—it won't matter where she lies. She'll be with you in spirit.

    I'm thinking of you!


  2. I don't know you, but I grieve with you over the loss of Belle.

    I love your writing style, and I am glad Fenway and FarmWife have shared your blog. I look forward to reading more in the days to come.


  3. It takes a long time to accept the absence, but it happens eventually. Give yourself time.

  4. So sorry Belle had to leave. I have a book about Panda the guide miniature horse. She's house broken, she'll live more than 20 yrs hopefully. I got to thinking about dogs and if anyone is breeding for longevity, and how they would. It would be a nice thing to have our dogs by our sides for 20+ yrs.
    Love and sympathy,
    Marie's mother.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss...our pets mean so much.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog which was recommended to me by Farm Wife

  6. I don't know you or Belle but I have had a number of dogs in my life. I don't think Belle cared where she was when she died. YOU were there and really, for her, that's what counts. You did the right thing and I hope your grief lessens soon.
    I am looking forward to reading your blog.

  7. Thanks for all the kind words, Belle was our first and most precious dog. I'll have another blog post up soon. It's called "Dominance". Shona

  8. Just yesterday I was forced to make the same awful decision. Buddy the cat was 13. The vet said, "I can give her sub-cue hydration and maybe she'll have a couple more days...." That would have been selfish of me to ask my beloved cat (one of seven) to linger just barely alive for me. She went peacefully and quickly forever to sleep. I buried her next to my dear departed Nettie dog. It never gets any easier.

  9. I've just read this for the first time Shona. You write beautifully and I remember Belle so well. Sitting on the wall at the Lunga stables with the three of you, wishing I had a dog too. We have one now, and I'll be just as not ready to let go when the time comes, hopefully not for a lot of years yet, but nothing's promised. Our animals never leave our hearts though. xx

  10. Thank you! Belle lives on in her son, Bug, who himself is getting old and senile, but is perfectly happy. Even though Belle has been gone for over two years I still sometimes call for her forgetting she's not there.