Goodbye Old Friend.

Our Dear Old Friend Tessa

A very young Tessa with her Dad.
A very young Tessa with her Dad.
Tessa with her daughter Pippa having a good game.
Tessa with her daughter Pippa having a good game.
Tessa showing her age now, but happy in her retirement in Thailand.
Tessa showing her age now, but happy in her retirement in Thailand.
Tessa the working dog and very proud of it too!
Tessa the working dog and very proud of it too!

A Dreadful Decision.....

 Death of a Friend.

On the 23rd March 2010 my husband celebrated his 62nd birthday.

On the 23rd March 2010 our old Labrador, Tessa died.

What a way to celebrate your birthday!  It was made worse by the very fact that we’d had to make the decision for her demise.  What a heartbreaking decision to make.  Euthanasia will never be viewed quite so impartially again, no-one should have to make the decision between life and death, and I deliberately make no distinction between humans and animals.  The ensuing 6 months has been one of soul-searching by the both of us and we’ve debated the situation til we’re so unbelievably tired, yet the conclusion still eludes us.

Objectively we had a 14 year old dog who for 4 years at least had suffered with cancerous lumps in various parts of her body.  One of them had grown in her chest and in the year prior to her death had caused fluid to build up in her lungs.  The vet had drained off 1.5 litres twice in 8 months.  He had told us that the dog would not survive more than six months, yet she confounded them. 

Realistically we’d discussed with the vet the point where her quality of life was no longer sustainable, but had decided that we would cross that bridge when it arrived.  The very fact of draining the fluid on the first occasion had rejuvenated her to a point of being ‘miraculous’.  Within a few hours we had gone from having an old dog that was tired, in pain and looking very ill, to a dog that was smiling, happy and busy again.  Not quite the old girl of a few years back but able to enjoy life once more.

This old Labrador was Tessa and had been my husbands faithful companion in his working life until we’d taken retirement in 2006.  Objectivity and emotions rarely make good bed fellows and such was the case with Tessa. 

The second bout of illness came in December and the treatment was not quite so successful this time, but she did enjoy a further respite of happiness and quality, and selfishly we loved having her back with us.  But this wasn’t quite the success we’d thought and we spent the next three months watching her gradually deteriorate.  Little things like not being able to get upstairs anymore; not being able to take the long walks with her daughter Pippa that she’d so loved and participated in with gusto before;  not being able to eat the foods she so loved;  having distressing ‘accidents’ on the floor; not being able to control the movements of her back leg with any sense.  The spark was fading and we went into a ‘state of denial’ as so many ‘professionals’ like to call it.  Real people call it ‘not wanting to know’.  We don’t need a technical term for it.  Death is death; illness is illness; getting old is getting old.  You don’t need to call it anything else.

We did talk about it – once.  This wasn’t going to happen to our Tessa, she would die naturally in her sleep.  But of course, she didn’t and we watched her helplessly looking more and more sad; more and more ill.  That look in her eyes just said it all - ‘help me Mum, Dad.  Please help me now’.   Her breathing within a few days had become weaker, til the fateful day when it was coming in short, painful pants.  We just held each others hands, knowing we couldn’t watch this much longer.  But we procrastinated further and treasured each minute with her, trying all sorts of things to make this last part of her life more comfortable.

It all seemed so futile.  So cruel.  So wicked.  Why was Mother Nature such an old bastard?  All reason and logic went out of the window.   Come on, I’d been a nurse for 30 years or more.  I’d sat with people of all ages in their dying hours.  I’d felt only a strength then that seemed to come from the depths of my soul.  There had always been a sadness at a parting but it was inevitably for those relatives left to mourn.  So where was my self assuredness today?  My emotions were totally out of focus and running a wild race across a future without our dear old Tess.  

It wasn’t until 10 o’clock that Derek made his mind up that this couldn’t be endured any longer.  We both had the same thoughts and knew we had to be strong.  Just looking at the poor old girl in so much pain.  The scales had swung over the point of balance.  The point of no return. 

Our steps and actions were leaden as we made a bed in the car for her and Derek put one of his shirts down for her to lay her head on.  The scent of her ‘Dad’ had to be the last thing she remembered.

That drive was the longest 10 miles of our lives.  Our favourite young vet was on duty as we knew he would be.  It was no accident we’d left it til this late.  He knew our desperation as Derek carried Tessa into the clinic.  His questions as we laid her on the table were unnecessary, he knew our thoughts.  Life went into suspended animation in the next half hour and all I can remember is that awful breathing; syringes; medication; explanations; a little nurse in tears; Derek and I holding our dearest friend of 14 years and kissing her as we said goodbye.  Her last breath was too much and we all cried, including the vet.  She looked so serene as she lay there in such a comfortable position.  For the first time in maybe a year she looked tranquil and at peace.  We didn’t speak, just held her close and stroked her dear old body til we knew it was time to go.  To leave her.  For the first time in her life. 

As we walked out to the car, our last view of her was of a peacefully sleeping Tessa with her head lying comfortably on her great Labrador paws.  That picture is indelibly etched on our minds and brings so much comfort along with sadness that she’s not here with us any more.

Maybe people that don’t have animals won’t understand these deep, deep feelings of love for a dog.  But our animals are not just ‘dogs’, ‘cats’, ‘hamsters’, ‘rabbits’, ‘guinea pigs’, or ‘horses’.  They are creatures we’ve shared part of our lives with and who have loved us unreservedly. 

Dearest Tessa, we loved you so much and miss your dear old face smiling at us each morning as you bunted us to get up and get your breakfast!  We miss the games; we miss the happiness you brought to our lives; we miss the scowls when you knew we were wrong!  we miss you wiggling your big bum as you tumble out to greet us when we’ve been out; we miss everything about you dear old friend.  So many joyful memories……………………….

Good bye dear old Friend.

Happy Days

Tess loved swimming.  But there were no ducks in this pond!
Tess loved swimming. But there were no ducks in this pond!
Tessa with her daughter Pip and 'Dad' Derek on our morning walks along the seashore in Thailand
Tessa with her daughter Pip and 'Dad' Derek on our morning walks along the seashore in Thailand

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Comments 16 comments

justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

It took me a while to get through this because it brought back memories for me that I try to push back. It's a beautiful look back. Peace!! Tom


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 6 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you Tom. Its taken me a long time to write this, but I know a lot of people will know the feelings as you do. We still have her lovely daughter Pippa, but we all miss Tess very much.


Ingrid 6 years ago

Dear old Tess, bless her..I know I shall miss her not being there when we come over again, such a softy, and that smile she greeted you with..


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

A very sad but loving read. I have been a similar position many times over with creatures both great and small. Sometimes I have had to do the deed myself. The anguish of the decision and the pain of the parting never lessens but I always find peace in knowing it was for the best.

I only met Tess the once. I liked her, she seemed to like me. I have been updated on her woes. I will miss her. Thanks for writing.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 6 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Hello Peter, thank you for your lovely comments about our lovely old Tess. Its taken me a long time to write this but I'm glad I did. It was the hardest decision of our lives but it was for the best. We've still got her daughter Pip though she is a different character to Tess. The photo of her on the tractor sums up her feisty character to a T.


mioluna 6 years ago

I know exactly what you feel. I had a Dog. And it was the same decision for my family that you made. We lost her but in spite of this she still lives in our souls.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 6 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you Mioluna, she really does live on in our hearts and souls and writing this has helped a lot.


datahound profile image

datahound 6 years ago from USA

Your Tess could be the sister of our Glenda that we had to put down a year ago. The same week we had to put her down our chocolate Lab Sam was diagnosed with canine lymphoma. We treated him as the vet had given us hope and spent a wonderful ten more months with him before he caught an infection that he could not shake and in Jan. of this year we had to make that decision one more time. You were so incredibly brave to stay by your Tessa's side during this time. We always have but I know of many people that will not. I truly feel your and your husbands pain in your words and hope that time will help with that.

She was a beautiful pup.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 6 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thanks for your kind words Datahound, its so hard to handle isn't it, but I think being there at the end just helps so much in a lot of different ways. Glenda and Sam sound like Tess, fantastic companions. I feel now we should write an obituary for her, she was such an amazing character.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia

Like most of us that are getting on in years we have also had to say good bye to our special friends. Our last was our special little Primrose and it never gets any easier!

Your story moved me so much that I had to take time out before I could write my comment. I hope that you have found room in your hearts to build another relationship like you had with your beautiful Tessa :-)


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 5 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you so much for writing such a moving comment about Tess. It's like having kids isn't it - you have to have them to know how it feels. No-one can tell you the emotions you'll go through.

We do have her daughter Pippa, she's 8 now and still our pup! Her character isn't a bit like Tess, but she is just as adorable and funny. :-)


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Mountain Blossoms, thank you for giving me the inspiration to write my thoughts and tribute to ALVIN, whose birthday would have been today... I am a nurse as well... absolutely no preparation for such a loss as TESS-- today I cry as I read and I cry as I write but my AUNT BABY (of almost 7), like your PIPPA keep us going... have you read A Dog's Purpose (oh what comfort that brought me)...Thank you.


ram_m profile image

ram_m 4 years ago from India

Your write up made me nostalic. I'am reminded of the death of my dear friend Gordon's "Boy" in 1975-76(?).Gordon was one of those Englishmen who made India their home after retirement (Madras to be precise),and BOY was not just his labrador but his family. I had never seen Gordon weep as he did when 'BOY' died and he insisted on BOY being cremated. There were a few close friends during those solemn moments and your write up has brought back those old memories. Thank you MB for your moving write up


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 4 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Its these parts of our lives that make life so poignant isn't it, but we'd never have thought of not having a dog. This is part of life and it hurts, but I think we come out better for it over the years and are more compassionate in our thinking.

We too had Tess cremated and she's now in England on the farm where she can watch over the rabbits, hares and pheasants!

Thank you for sharing the memories of your friend Gordan and his dog, Boy. And for you touching comments. MB


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 4 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you Mioluna for your lovely comments and I do apologies that I've not looked here til today. The memories are still so clear and sad. MB


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 4 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you my dearest Ingrid. I'd not looked at this til today so had missed some of the touching comments. I know how much you loved her too. I'm glad she's been part of your life. M

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