By Andrew, Country Collar Club owner, 24th January 2021
Reading back my column from last week it turned out there was more than an apple tree growing in our beloved Holly’s stomach. Just under a week ago, a trip to the vets was the start of a nightmare that continues on even as I write to you now.
For those of you that are looking for some light-hearted escapism from a stressful day, or to break up the tediousness of lockdown – be warned. You shall not find any positive relief here. This shall be the very hard story of a husband and wife, losing their precious Holly to cancer. A battle that our dear dog had unbeknown to us, been fighting for many months. Such a trooper, such a sweetheart and such a beautiful friend that I shall never forget.
Tuesday 19th January 8.30AM – Time for a trip to the vets Holly. You’ll probably be in for most of the morning having some tests done. Nothing to worry about though. We’ll see you soon. You’ve definitely lost a little weight over the past few months but nothing to be concerned over. I’ve never known you be so active! Remember that squirrel you chased yesterday? He got away didn’t he? I know I’ve been treating you to some long walks over Christmas. You’ve loved it haven’t you? Heck, you never get tired when we’re out and about. I counted 3 zoomies on Sunday, that’s good going for a 13 year old dog who watched Mo Farrah win 2 Olympic Gold medals in 2012. Do you know what the Olympics is Holly? Do you know who Mo Farrah is Holly? Yes you doooo! You look just like him!! If you had entered that 5,000 metre race, you Holly-Bobbins would have given Sir Mo a good run for his money wouldn’t you? Daddy would be so proud of you with a gold medal around your little neck.
9.30AM – A devastating phone call from the vets. A sizable lump has been found in her abdomen area that has aggressively attached itself to Holly’s spleen. The size of the mass is causing her severe belly-ache. It could burst at any point. If it gets knocked on a walk or even just through playing with her favourite toy, then it leads to internal bleeding. A sure-fire painful, horrendous and cruel way to go. How is this happening? Please God tell me this is a nightmare. I must continue to listen to what I’m being told on the phone. I must be strong. For every hammer blow that I’m being told, there must be a logical explanation to this. How can she possibly be this ill? Ill dogs don’t run around chasing squirrels. Ill dogs don’t eat their dinner in 20 seconds flat. Her eyes are so bright and loving.
9.35AM – Here are the options. An operation. This isn’t going to happen, she’s 13 years old. How have we possibly got to this point? An op would prolong her life by a matter of weeks…. weeks. How could this be? Second option, pain relief to give her a comfortable limited life that could end at any point. What about our pain relief? Does this mean we’re watching a dog sentenced to death, get weaker and weaker whilst dosed up on painkillers? The crushing image of discovering the mortal clock has stopped ticking during the middle of the night. All alone, petrified and confused. How can I live with myself after finding her alone at the bottom of stairs one morning? How do we possibly tell the family members that our incredible lockdown doggy shall wither in front of our very eyes? The torturous goodbyes shall be scarring for us all. The cancer shall continue to consume her from the inside out, for all to see. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. How can we watch those bright eyes stare into the inevitable abyss of death. The third option is the hardest of them all. To sign away our dog’s life. To end our joyous journey with a simple bank card transaction. Is that what this has now come too? Maybe that squirrel we talked about Holly will be your last race. You can beat Mo Farrah, you can beat any squirrel, but you can’t win this race Holly.
11.30AM – The decision has been made and we are now waiting to see her again for the last time. How has it come to this? Sat with my wife in a small sterile veterinary waiting room. How many sick dogs have walked through those brown wooden doors to see their owners for one last time. The joy a dog has on their face when they see their best friends again is a blissful experience we can all resonate with. Just a few more minutes until she shall walk through those same doors. She looks so happy to see us again. She has no idea what is about to happen. I would do anything to turn the clock back for you Holly. You look beautiful, your nose is still wet and your inquisitive nature continues even at this point by wanting to snuggle up to your Mummy and Daddy. You probably think you’re coming home with us, so we can go on yet another family walk. Not this time Holly. We hug you farewell and tell you we love you and that we will never forget our lockdown doggy. It won’t hurt my baby girl. It will be just like when we kiss you goodnight every time before we walk up the stairs to bed. You’re in pain my baby girl. Please don’t forget us and please understand why this is for the best Holly. There’s no other way. We’re doing what’s right for you. We will always love you. One last kiss on the forehead to look into those angelic eyes, a scratch of the ears and a moment to hold you that shall last with me forever. Time to lay down now Holly. The nurse has brought you in this blanket to keep you warm and safe. Just like on all of those winter nights we spent together snuggling up together on the sofa without a care in the world. It’s time to go now beautiful girl. Close your eyes Holly. We love you…. Sweet dreamies.
It’s over. Shock, denial and pain hits me like an unstoppable force desperate to take me down a black hole of despair.
This is where I still am. 5 days have passed since we sent Holly to the rainbow bridge and I can admit to you that I have never felt this amount of heartbreak in my adult life. There’s been tears, longing, despair, anger and laughter. This is the rollercoaster of grief. I want to get off, but I’m strapped in for the long haul. The hell continues.
Rest in peace Holly, you’ll always be in our hearts. Chase those squirrels over rainbow bridge.
Until next week.