“When mum, dad, brother or sister walks through the door I should go totally insane with joy. Pounce, wag my tail, anything to get their attention and their affection.” This is what I imagined was going through my dogs head 5 minutes before anyone in my family pulled up on the driveway. She always seemed to know the exact point our keys would enter the lock and would be waiting at the window with her sweet little smile.
Pebbles was everyone’s favourite dog. People would stop and stare as I walked past with her, kids would run up and shout “DALMATIAN!” – just in case she forgot her breed…when friends came over she would insist on being petted, and if they stopped she would place her head as close to their face as possible, making sure they couldn’t carry on with any conversation. She was a silly but loyal dog with a cute black patch around her left eye. She was beautiful, and damn right did she know it. She had the perfect amount of spots not too many, but enough and when we let her off the lead she would bound towards the other dogs and flirt with them shamelessly, even if they were a fraction of her size. She was such a naughty dog, but so so hilarious. She ate anything, and when I say anything I really do mean ANYTHING – socks, knickers, cushions, paper, but her favourites were plastic bags and cheese.
I got Pebbles near my 5th birthday and in the sixteen years (yes, sixteen) I had her, Pebbles was my only constant; my life from being 5 to 21 has obviously changed so much. I’ve been to three different schools; lived in two towns; I’ve dated a bunch of guys, some seemed serious, some…not so much and finally found one that seems a good fit; I’ve made and lost friends; and even though my rational thoughts knew she wouldn’t be there forever, I sort of assumed she would be as I just couldn’t picture my world without her.
Pebbles was old, there’s nothing more to it. Dalmatians very rarely live past the age of 10 and she lived until the 18/09/2015 when she was 16. She had arthritis for years and her feet had begun to drag on her walks, she would fall as she went up and down the stairs, and sometimes she would just collapse on the walk paths she once bound along full of mud. So the walks had to stop. The vet informed us that she would only have a couple of months left and wouldn’t make it to Christmas (2014).
She powered through for another 9 months, but her falling got worse. I would pull a little on her collar and if that didn’t work I’d grab hold of her like a baby and lift her back to her feet. Sometimes she would just stare at me as though she wasn’t aware that her back half wasn’t working. We couldn’t leave her downstairs because she’d soil herself and howl all night long so most nights I’d have to carry her upstairs to bed. My parents were being woke every night at around 2/3am having the clean up her mess and it all got too much for everyone, including Pebbles.
We didn’t know what to do. The vet had informed us that her kidneys were failing and this is why she couldn’t control her bladder. Although I felt I’d lost my little energetic baby who had been replaced with a 3 stone skeleton of a spotty dog, I knew she still loved us all. She would struggle, but she would always make sure she greeted us at the door and would stumble over to try and lick our feet which we categorically didn’t want.
I learned one night that vets were able to be called out in order to have a dog put down, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want Pebbles’ last moments to be on a metal bed in a vets where she would be freaking out about where next she is going to be prodded or poked. So my mum booked the date for the vet to visit my house and peacefully end Pebbles’ life. The days before the set date were so difficult but they went so quickly and I think that was because I never wanted Friday to come. Once Friday did arrive I decided I wanted to remember Pebbles’ liveliness and smiling face so I spent the day moving my things into my University room with my boyfriend and didn’t meet the vet at my house. I took the morning as a chance to say goodbye, I fed her her favourite gravy bones and sat her on my knee. Cuddling her my tears fell onto the end of her nose where she’d lick them off and fall back to sleep. After a long day I came home. I felt my my heart was in my throat and I kept staring at the window hoping to see Pebbles looking back, but she never did. My mum had been crying, I could see from her puffy eyes, my dad was quiet and heart broke and my brother had locked himself away in his room. I tried to keep it together but once my mum put her arms around me I broke down into tears which is when she said “it was so peaceful Rachel, we cuddled her to sleep.”
That night I lay in bed trying to sleep with my boyfriend beside me. I sobbed so hard, those kind of deep sobs where you can’t breathe and you can’t control the tears, they just keep coming. I kept thinking about her lifeless body being taken away into the back of a van, and every time I thought about it, I just cried even more and felt so sick.
I’m not over it and I don’t feel I ever will be. Sometimes I get upset for being upset, I wonder if it’s my depression making me sad and constantly remind myself that I have a mental illness and that ‘normal’ people wouldn’t be that upset, I’m just being dramatic. But my rational thoughts have told me it is normal and I can cry. She was my baby and I was her mum for 16 years. I just hope one day I won’t have a night of tears, but a night of fantastic memories and more spotty cuddles.
R.I.P my little angel, we’ll never forget you.