They say that when you lose a pet, a part of your heart goes with them and I know firsthand that is true. I haven’t really spoken about this because whenever I try, I just end up getting really sad and it’s something that is very difficult for me but I figured that if I write about it, it can either help someone else who is going through the same thing or help me to get the feelings down.
So about half a year ago I had to put down my childhood dog. I know that many of you may not think this is a big deal but to be it was truly heartbreaking. I’d never had to experience putting a pet to sleep and whenever people would speak of it I’d feel empathetic but couldn’t understand why they were so sad about it because I’d never been through it.
We got Nikita when I was 5, just before I started school and she was the most gorgeous rough coated collie with the kindest personality you would ever be able to find in a dog. We had so many nicknames for her including “NannyKita” as she really was almost a nanny to us, she knew when we were sick or sad and she would come and place her little nose on my chest when she had done something wrong. Because I was home schooled for some years in primary she became my best friend. We would have water fights together, explore imaginary worlds together and I loved her more than anything. When I started going to school she would greet me when I got back with her ‘smile’. She must have learned from us but she would curl her lips up and smile at us when she was excited.
I’d take her with me on hour long bike rides when me and my friend would go to the botanical gardens and talk for hours and she would sit patiently by my side ’til it was time to go home. She was my best friend and protector and I felt so safe with her that I was never scared to go walking with her even though I knew she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’d seen me through the start of school all the way past graduation and my second year of university. I wish I’d spent more time with her once I moved back up to Auckland but there’s no point regretting what you didn’t do, just remembering what you did you is important. She lived with my mum who lives 45 minutes away and I never really went to see her that often, maybe once every 2 weeks but I did manage to take her to the beach a few times which she loved.
She was 16 when it came time to put her to sleep which is quite old for a dog. She was deaf, blind and pretty much senile and over the last week of her life she was becoming progressively worse. She would panic at noises and wasn’t able to control her bladder. We decided to make the decision to put her to sleep as although I would have loved more time with her, she wasn’t herself anymore and as a vet nurse, we learn to tell people to think of the animal, not themselves when considering a decision like this. It was time. I groomed her and cuddled her and cried many tears and she had no idea what was happening but still tried to comfort me. The whole family came out and my sisters boyfriend offered to drive my car to the vet clinic so I could sit with Nikita in the back and say goodbye.
We got to the clinic and as I’ve done many euthanasia in my time as a vet nurse I knew exactly what was going to happen and it was one of the best ones I’ve ever seen. No reactions, no sounds, nothing, which made it a lot easier as her journey over the rainbow bridge was peaceful. I was heartbroken but I knew it was the best thing and I knew she lived an extremely long and happy life. We had her cremated and I have the ashes (which may sound morbid but it’s something I wanted.) in a box. I wasn’t sure if we were going to scatter her or keep the ashes in an urn and I still have to decide what to do with them.
Now I’m crying as I knew I would because now that she’s not here I can never see her again or cuddle her or take her to the beach but I know it was the best thing for her and I really do feel better sharing this story because I haven’t been able to tell the story without breaking down in tears. I mean, I’m crying now but they are different tears. Not the uncontrollable tears of before, more tears of happiness that I got to spend so much of my life with her. I hope that one day my children will be able to experience this feeling because heartbreak means that you have loved and that is one of the best things you can experience in life.
She really did leave paw prints on my heart and I will miss her forever.
Some pictures of Nikita, now free to run around chasing sticks in heaven.