Just 7 days after my last blog post, Lupo passed away peacefully at home.
I had been thinking about when this might happen for a year or so now. Even googling morbid things like ‘signs your dog is dying’ to try and prepare myself I guess. In the last few months Lupo’s behaviour changed in a few ways. Just like the film, Marley and Me, he started sleeping right next to the front door at night, the furthest point from us. Which is something a lot of dogs do in their final days. His appetite was none existent, sometimes not eating for a full 24hours, then back to normal the next day.
Selfishly, I had wanted to avoid making that heartbreaking trip to the vets to end his life, secretly wishing I came downstairs one day when he was very old and he had passed away in his sleep. And the reality wasn’t far off. I know he had no control over his end, but it really does reflect him as a dog who would do anything to make us happy. He spent his last day, my 37th birthday in fact, snoozing on the sofa next to me. My kids came home from school and as I ushered them in the kitchen to chat about their day, I left Lupo sleeping on the sofa.
Ten minutes later, and I still to this day can’t remember why I went back into the living room, but I opened the door and he was on the floor. I repeated his name as he took his last breath, then I stepped back and tried to catch my breath from the shock. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, but my dog who had the biggest heart, had simply stopped.
Some people may think this was even worse to happen on my birthday, but I can only think that it was one of the better times for it to happen, as my parents were on their way to my house for dinner. And I can’t think of a day I needed a hug from them more than this one.
Grief is a funny old thing in hindsight. I went into organising mode, I needed to make sure he would be taken care of. He’s too big to bury in the garden like a smaller pet would be, so I rang the vet and the lovely receptionist recommended a pet cremation service local to us. She said she used the service for her pets and wouldn’t go anywhere else.
The reality started to hit me that night, as we were alone in the living room. Lupo’s bed and stinky blankets in he corner. His chew toys scattered as they’ve always been. The next morning we made the trip to the crematorium, carrying poor Vada our puppy in my arms and I sobbed all the way there. Brian the owner greeted us, and asked us to sit on a bench in the beautiful gardens next to a fountain. It was such a lovely place, so peaceful, even considering why we were there. we left Lupo with him and were promised a personal and caring process to receive his ashes.
We collected his ashes later that day, I was holding it together quite well until Brian said he kept some of Lupo’s tail fur, both the black and tan colours, and popped them on a card for us to keep. That’s when I lost it again! But honestly, what a lovely man and like the receptionist who recommended him, I’d never go anywhere else for my pets now.
I had to write down my memories of Lupo, I had an awful feeling I’d forget otherwise, so I shared them on social media that day. But there are so many more, not least on this website, but little things we remember each day. I was super sad for the first week, I couldn’t even look at photos of him or talk about him. My family started watching a program about dogs and I couldn’t stomach it. I was starting to get angry that no one else was as sad as me, but realised that’s a normal part of the process too. I had to ride it out. Every morning got a little easier to get up and on with things.
Then comes the guilt. Guilty I wasn’t as upset as I was the day before. Guilty for having a new puppy, but so grateful she was here at the same time as I don’t know how we would have coped with a home without a dog in it for those first few days. I also thought we’d scatter his ashes in the garden straight away, but I can’t bear to do that yet. So they are on the windowsill next to where I work. I always used to think people doing that were weird, but life is funny like that isn’t it.
For 11 years Lupo was at every milestone in the most hectic part of our lives, buying a house, having kids, getting married and going on honeymoon – which he joined us for both, and a pandemic that made his dreams come true, his family home 24/7! He was our dream dog and we take comfort in knowing he had a wonderful life with us. As that’s all us dog owners have to do for them.
He was there to hug in sad times and he was an excuse to get out the house when you really needed one. He ran fast next our bikes, and he slowly strolled for miles next to our toddlers.
I miss the weight of his head in my hands as he just wanted to be near us. He was such a good boy, I’ll miss him everyday.