When Burton was first diagnosed with cancer, it was two days before we were due to leave for a trip to Nashville, TN. We were thinking of moving there and wanted to scout out the area/interview for jobs, etc. When we received the news, we cancelled everything. Even though at the time Burton had no outward symptoms, I just couldn't leave him in his time of need. Dogs don't always show their discomfort and he was so attached to me that I thought my absence would cause him stress and possibly make things worse.
We are both so glad we cancelled that trip because Burton died just 3 short weeks later. By cancelling the trip, we had more time with him and not only did I get to try some non-invasive treatments that did not change the outcome but I believe made him more comfortable, we also got to take him on an adventure every day: the park, a lake, a short walk along the river, anything to make him happy.
After he died, the house seemed so empty with just my husband and I. Burton's personality and energy filled the room and we found the silence unbearable. Once we received his ashes from his private cremation and placed the box in his favorite spot in the closet, we decided to take our quick trip to Nashville to get out of the house.
Almost immediately after booking, I started to worry if that was the right thing - if there is even a "right" thing. Was I being selfish? Should I stay in the house for some time after in case his spirit is still here? I don't want him to feel abandoned so I left all of his things out, his water, his bed, his toys.
We still talked to him as if he was still here and I privately asked him for some kind of sign that he was happy and OK. I read someone's account of doing the same thing and she asked her dog for a blue butterfly. If she saw one, she would know that he was OK. Since Burton was black and white, I asked for a black and white butterfly as a sign that he was OK. I should point out that we live in the Pacific Northwest, in a cold, dry climate and I haven't seen a butterfly in five years but I figured if he was OK he could make it happen.
The loss is still overwhelming, we try to tell ourselves that we did the right thing for him (not pursuing a risky surgery/chemo) by keeping him happy and comfortable and providing a calm, respectful death (we had him euthanized here at home). We gave him a good life, and as hard as it is, we felt it was our duty to give him a good death too. We kept his ashes and those of his older sister because we know we are not staying in this area. When we find our forever home, we will bury them there.
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