Bernard’s gone. I’ve just got back from the vet’s after taking the decision to put him to sleep.
He was really struggling over the weekend, completely uninterested in things, wouldn’t come if I called him and lagged so far behind on the walk it was sad to see him struggling along.
After talking with Margret, I finally made the decision that enough was enough. After talking to my vet this morning I decided with a really heavy heart that time was come. He’s been suffering immensely and Jerker, the vet, thought this was absolutely the right thing to do. We’ve really tried so much to turn this around.
So I took the woofs on a walk this morning through the forest. Bernard got to be off-lead and enjoyed nosing about at his own pace – far behind as usual. Then when I got home I gave him a huge portion of fresh lamb and rice, his favourite, which he scoffed down. He seemed happier than I’d seem him in a long time, which weighed heavily on my mind as I drove him to the vet.
I went on my own although Margret had discussed going with me over the weekend.
I didn’t actually tell anyone I was doing this as I felt it was totally my call and anyway: he’s my dog.
So we got there I was pretty cut up but the vet was very good. They gave us a little room of our own and let me play with Bernard for a bit. I put treats in my mouth and he took them from my lips. The funny thing was this was the best contact we’ve had for months. If not well over a year.
He then had his calming injection and we continued to play the game until he suddenly lay down and, after one last sweet, fell into deep sleep.
The fifteen minutes before the vet came with the final injection were the worst. It felt as if Bernard was gone already but I held him and chatted, being close to him.
When the vet finally came in he struggled to find a vein that would take the injection. They collapsed each time he tried. After several goes we took the decision to inject straight into his liver. The vet gave him the first three syringes and then I asked to give him the final syringe. It felt absolutely the right thing to do. I wanted to take full responsibility for him until the end.
He took longer than I hoped to slip away. I lay there listening to his breathing with my head next to his. Again, we talked of hopefully one day running through the forests together with all the woofs having happier times.
Then after he stopped breathing I felt his heart beat until it stopped. He was gone.
After the vet came in to check him, I took one last farewell and left through the side exit reserved for moments like this. It was a long drive home through the snow but in a way I felt oddly relieved at the same time as very sad.
After being cremated in Värmland, he’ll come back home and I plan to bury him with a tree come the spring. A tree overlooking the dog pen where he often sat, snoozing in the sunshine in the summer months.
Today is Lucia in Sweden as my Scandinavian friends will know. If you don’t know, it’s the day we celebrate Saint Lucia who comes with a crown of candles, carrying light and sweets. It’s the traditional start of Christmas and reminds us that light will replace darkness. It seemed fitting that today would be Bernard’s last day as he will always be remembered on December 13th with Lucia.
Now I’m home I’ve had some cocoa and bread. I’ve fed Winnie, Aggie, and Tia and tried not to show my feelings. They’re mucking about the house now and soon I will go outside to feed the pups.
Life goes on, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Bernard. A shy basset who lost the rascal in him far too early.