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On March 2, we traveled to California for a long-awaited family vacation. Our 10-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Mary, had exceeded the two-month prognosis she was given in early December after being diagnosed with brain tumors. I found a compassionate-care animal hospital to watch Mary while we were away. Our goodbye was longer than normal when we dropped her off, just in case.

She was thin—usually 17 pounds, down to 9—and rested a lot, but she didn’t seem to be suffering. Mary looked forward to her meals and loved affection. I believe simply watching our family move about the house from her bed gave her comfort. She appeared content.

It could have been any day…maybe even weeks or another month.

We were at the San Diego Zoo, four days into our vacation. An elephant was about to receive a pedicure. One zookeeper explained the procedure while another worker prepared the area before retrieving the animal. The worker placed a stool, an elephant-sized nail file, and a bucket of cucumber treats in the pedicure area. The bucket had the name of the elephant written on the side. Her name was Mary.

Thirty minutes later, the vet called my cell phone. Our Mary had had a grand mal seizure. Medication temporarily helped, but she continued to mildly seize for several hours. “The beginning of the end,” the vet had said. “I think Mary’s telling us it’s her time.”

We made the decision to euthanize Mary later that afternoon.

Sea World, Legoland, the beach, and being away from home—all buffered our grief. Family vacations are important, pets die; this is life.

Re-entry was rough. We drove home from the airport recapping highlights, feeling thankful for a fun 10 days, but anxious to sleep in our own beds. At the same time we were heavy-hearted about the reality of seeing an empty dog bed.

Mary was cremated. A few days after we returned, I picked up her remains along with the pink sweater she was wearing the day we left. I placed her in the front seat of the car next to me, cried hard, told her I loved her, and that I needed to swing by the liquor store before we went home. She waited patiently.

We know that it was “time”, and that there was no chance of recovery. But, of course we miss Mary and feel her loss in powerful and unpredictable waves. Pet grief is unique.

Chris, the boys, and I spread her ashes in the backyard after a short, awkward family memorial. The day was windy. It didn’t seem to matter which direction we sprinkled, the wind always shifted, blowing the light grey powder back towards the person sprinkling. Mary clung to us. She even got in Redmond’s (7) eye. Damn dog.

Rest in peace, sweet Mary.

February 10, 2003 – March 5, 2013

Reader Comments (9)

Oh, so very very sorry to hear this. Pet grief is so personal and strong. Hugs.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi

Rest in peace, indeed. So sorry for your loss Chrisy and family! Hugs. xoxo

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchristy

Chrisy, My love to you and yours..... I looked forward to each year's picture of sweet Mary in costume. She made my Christmas each year! It is so hard to lose a pet. But they are part of the family and so worth it. Lets have coffee soon! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Aw, I am so sorry for your loss! She lived a long, happy life and was loved very much. It is so hard to lose a pet that has been a member of the family for so many years. I have lost many... and I still miss them and their quirky ways.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

Deep bows to you and your family. Goodbye Mary.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermichael.offworld

Sorry is a word with cracks in it that heartbreak sometimes slips between - RIP Mary. In your grief there is both hurt and loveliness. I pray your family's hurt will make you all even more lovely.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Much love to all of you, we are so sorry to hear this sad news. Her latest and greatest Madonna photo is on our cabinet for all to chuckle at. She has lifted many peoples' spirits!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

This post just broke my heart. Brought back memories of losing our family cat. I'm so so sorry to hear of your loss.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I am so sorry now that I am behind on my blog reading. I feel for you guys. I am so sorry you lost her.

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSchmutzie

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