On Thursday our lives were turned upside down when we had to say goodbye to our dog Gator. She had been very sick for a couple of days and when we took her to the vet, after blood work and X-rays, we found out that she had cancer in her liver. It had grown to three times it's size and was pushing up into her lungs making it difficult to breathe. Our worst fears as dog parents had come true and we had to schedule an appointment to put our dog to sleep. We made her as comfortable as possible (she wasn't in pain) and took her home to spend one last night together. Never in my life have I felt so helpless and devastated. What do you do when you know that you only have one last night with your fur baby? I understand that there are non-pet people who may read this and think I'm being dramatic. For those people it's difficult to put it into perspective, but I believe that all situations in life are relative. We have always treated our dogs like our children, that is what they are to us, our babies. For me, it felt like we were losing a child. We were put in an impossible situation. I mean seriously, what do you do when you know that you are about to have the worst day of your life and there is literally nothing that you can do to fix it?
John and I decided to sit around snuggling, sharing happy stories, and watching Tom Hanks movies. Gator loved Tom Hanks. For whatever reason, if you said a Tom Hanks movie title, she would prance around all happy and excited. It was a great party trick. We sat with her the whole night giving her kisses, ear and belly rubs, and snuggles. We even slept on the floor holding her until morning when it was time to take her to her appointment. Taking her to that vet and going through that appointment was hands down the most difficult thing that I have ever done. It was the worst day of my life.
We are completely devastated. It feels like there is a huge hole in my chest and every so often I am hit hard with this vacuum-like feeling of pain and sadness that sends me into hysterics. Our little family is the most important thing in the world to me. Since John and I move to Cleveland our little family has been my rock. It didn't matter what crap was happening in life, because I knew that I could come home to my little family and everything would be okay. That morning, before we took Gator to the vet, we had a moment where we sat just the four of us for the last time holding each other. I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life. I am so deeply heartbroken, but I am also so grateful and lucky to have had a dog like Gator.
John's family got Gator in 2002. She spent her younger years pulling skateboards and keeping up with two teenage boys. She loved chasing squirrels, cats, and being chased around the neighborhood by John. Gator got her name because they lived on a canal and John's dad always joked that she would be gator bait if she wasn't careful. John took Gator with him when he went to college which is when I met her. He brought her with him all over the theater department and campus. He even snuck her into a few rehearsals, she loved being on stage. :) People loved Gator, she was one of those dogs that positively affected everyone that she met. You would call her name and she would prance up to you, tail wagging, and graciously accepted any loving you would give her. When John and I started dating, Gator went with us everywhere. We would go on dog park dates almost every weekend. In 2012 we moved to Cleveland and shortly after, we adopted little Charlie boy. Charlie immediately fell in love with Gator, but she took a little more convincing. I vividly remember the look she gave me when I showed her Charlie for the first time. She sniffed him and then looked at me like, "Mom...what the hell is that?....no seriously what the HELL IS THAT?" However, it didn't take long for Gator to take Charlie under her paw and show him the ropes. Charlie was Gator's little shadow and he followed her everywhere. She taught him how to play fight and he forced her to snuggle.
We spent the next four years in Cleveland experiencing the highs and lows of post-grad life. I had a really difficult time due to career stuff and the typical what the hell am I doing moments that happen when you leave the security bubble that is college. There were definitely moments when I really hated where I was in life. However, no matter how low I felt, the one thing that consistently brought me joy and kept me centered was our little family. I look back at those years now and all I see is that those were the best four years of my life. We had so many good days together whether it was exploring the metro parks, walking around town, or just spending the evenings snuggled up together watching TV. I am thankful for all of those memories. This whole experience has been a harsh reminder that you must live life in the moment, appreciate what you have, and stop worrying about where you think you should be. Life is too short to worry about the bullshit.
Gator was the best, and there will always be a small throb in my chest when I think about her, but I am eternally grateful for the time that we had with her and the love that she gave us. We love you Baby Bait, rest in peace sweet girl.