Sunday, June 5, 2011

Willow.




This week we had the very sad task of saying goodbye to our family dog Willow. One morning she woke up feeling miserable and went down to the bottom of the garden to lie underneath our giant plane tree, nestled in a bed of Autumn leaves.
Our vet arrived mid morning and discovered that her stomach was full of blood and thought it would most likely be bleeding from a tumour that would require urgent surgery. Hugo was at home for the day and we rushed her into his practice, aware that her chances of survival were very slim.
It was monumentally heartbreaking leaving her on the table and saying goodbye. Even though she couldn't walk any more and the light was fading from her eyes, she used her last bit of energy to comfort me by lifting her head to look at me and wag her tail. Even thinking of it now makes my heart physically hurt.
In the afternoon our vet rang to say that while they had removed a tumour the size of a small football, her spleen and liver were riddled with the cancer and there was no way to stop the bleeding. He recommended letting her go while she was still under anesthetic rather than allowing her to wake and die in pain soon after. I consented.
Willow was in our life for almost ten years, almost the entire time I have been in New Zealand away from my family and for longer than we have even had our children for. She was the boys' nursemaid, allowing them to climb all over her and always, always keeping watch over them. She would never let them walk on the farm without her - even to the point of barrelling through fences to keep up. Jonno could ride off on the motorbike to work on the farm and Willow would let him go, however, if one of the boys were on the bike she would insist on coming.
Willow was my dog. After I miscarried my first pregnancy at three months, I stood by the door howling. Willow was still a puppy and had a favourite toy that she loved more than anything. As I stood wreaked by grief, she came to me and placed her squeaky toy on my feet.
Her mouth was so gentle (and she was a big dog), I would peel a banana and hold it for her and she would take little dainty bites, one at a time until it was finished. She could carry an egg in her mouth without breaking it and the other day, I was holding a spoon with something on it and she thought it was for her. With the utmost care, she delicately supped from the spoon as though she routinely ate soup.
We buried her down in the orchard the next morning and plan to plant an avocado tree on top. She was a terrible avocado thief and used to constantly escape into the surrounding orchards in order to feed her addiction. In fact, she used to sometimes bring back whole, unpunctured avocados and we would confiscate them and eat them ourselves... so I guess we weren't any better.
She is survived by our border collie Bertie who we are all helping through this sad time with lots of love, pats and treats.
p.s. If you are wondering, Willow was a labrador crossed with an airedale. We used to call her a Lairedale.

34 comments:

ArtMind said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Kate! it sounds like Willow was an amazing companion to the entire family and I hope that happy thoughts about your time together will ease the pain. XO Mitsy

Julie said...

It's always so sad saying goodbye to a much loved pet - they really are part of the family. luckily you have such lovely memories.

Hootnz said...

So sorry for the passing of Willow, she sounds like she was a wonderful dog, everything you wish for in a pet. I loved reading your stories of Willow and your family, especially of the Avocado knapping! Cute :)

Debi Y. said...

I'm very sorry for your family's loss. Sending you comforting ((hugs)). :)

Bobo Bun said...

I felt so saddened and moved by your post. Willow sounds a wonderful dog and you've written a beautiful piece about your feelings for her.

Leonie @ Cuppa and Cake said...

Awwwww Kate! I feel your pain. I'm so sorry you had to lay your buddy to rest. Hugs to you all. xx

greenthumb said...

I am so sad for your loss,and your boys, it is nice to plant the tree for Willow, and when you look at the tree you will have happy memories. Take care.

Aunty Mum said...

Oh Kate, I'm so sorry. I was there when the vet visited at one point so I know how worried you were. We send our love, kisses and hugs to you. xx

Jacey said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your wonderful dog. I have only recently become a dog owner to my little Dudley and already he is so much apart of the family, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be for you to lose Willow after 10 years with her as part of your family.
Big hugs to you and your family. xx

spudballoo said...

Oh I'm so, so sad to read this. The pain of losing a pet is just as painful as losing a human friend, I do feel for you all having lost a couple of cats along the way. I'm sure you did the right and kind thing to let her go the way you did.

How tough for your boys, it's a hard lesson to learn so young. My boys are similar ages to yours (and the eldest is called Bertie!) and I know how hard they will find it when one of our beloved puss cats dies.

He sounded like such a gentle and rare personality.

Hugs from the UK xxxxx

moonstruckcreations said...

Im so sorry to hear about the loss of Willow - but what a lot of lovely memories you have of her.

It is so hard isnt it when a pet passes away...

Thinking of you all.

Helenxx

snoopydog said...

Oh Kate, what a sad time! Willow was beautiful. You have so many lovely memories of her. Dogs are just the very best animal companions! Thinking of you, Ros and Oscar

Louise said...

So sorry.
A wonderful tribute to a wonderful dog.

Pink Milk said...

Oh how heartbreaking. Poor dear Willow. I'm so terribly sad for you and your little family.

I'm off now to give our dog an extra cuddle.

My thoughts are with you, take care.

Hx

ellie said...

My love to you all. Tears of sadness at her going, and joy at those lovely stories and memories.

My sister had to put her dog down a few weeks ago (also due to cancer), a friend and wonderful being who had been in her life for longer than her children also.

Such deep loss and pain at seeing a great being leave this earth. I am glad your Willow will have avocados for eternity. And always be in the field or paddock to watch over the boys.

xxxxx E

Kayleigh said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my childhood dog to stomach cancer and it was heartbreaking. I hope you and your family (including Bertie) can pull through and remember all the joy Willow brought you all.

Anneli said...

So sorry for your loss! Your story had me teary eyed and I had to go and hug all of my pets. The time we share with them is so precious and hopefully your memories help you through the loss of Willow.

Attic24 said...

I am so so sad for you kate, I just wrote you an email and wish now that I had called here first cos i feel a right eejit for spouting hooky talk to you when life is so up in the air for you. Please do forgive me, I am a bit lost for words but am sending you a huge hug my friend. Treasure the memories, hold them tight.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Big hugs from England
Katie x

Michelle said...

im so sorry for your loss..dogs are the most gentle, loving souls on earth and their time here is always too short. my thoughts are with your family

**Anne** said...

Kate, I'm so sorry to hear about your beautiful dog Willow. It is so hard losing a beautiful pet that is a precious part of the family.
I'll be thinking of you and your family.
Take care,
Anne xx

Barbara said...

Sending you heaps of love and many thoughts, Kate. From Barbara x

Fleur Cotton said...

So sorry to hear your news , I love to read the 'highs' of your life and it feels very moving to share in the 'lows' too. Although you are the other side of the world from me I am so sorry for you and your family's loss.

Claudia said...

I´m so sorry for your loss, Kate!! I know how you feel, because we lost our dog some years ago with the same age as Willow and with the same terrible disease.
Hugs for all the family, here from Brazil.

Simone said...

I'm so heartbroken for you. Praying your family finds comfort in the wonderful memories you have of Willow. Saying goodbye is not easy, but I hope she remains in your hearts.

Jan said...

I'm sad for you. She was a beauty, and most importantly, she was your comfort and joy. Brighter days are ahead for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

So sad for you. Willow sounds like she was a darling dog. My beloved cat died in a similar way - we took her to the vet with a sore eye which we were told was glaucoma. We were then told this was sometimes the result of oral cancer - which would be inoperable. We said goodbye to her at the vets, never knowing if we would ever see her again and knowing that her last hours were without us - waiting at the vets until she was anesthetized and investigations made, this still upsets us. Like you we were told that the kindest thing was not to bring her back round if she had oral cancer. We never saw her again. It was a very sad day and it still makes me sad as she was very much loved and most special in our hearts. Remember the good times, I'm sure there were so many and celebrate the fact that she had the best possible of lives. You were lucky that she shared your life and she was lucky to be loved as she was. I know you will all be feeling sad;in time the memories will give you some comfort. I wish you all well. It is very sad and difficult when our beloved animals go to rest. My thoughts are with you xx

Megan said...

I'm really sorry to hear that. Willow sounds like a most beautiful dog indeed.

do you mind if i knit said...

Oh Kate, I'm so sorry, I'm in tears myself, so I can't imagine the pain you're all suffering, especially you, as you had a very close bond with her. She was the most beautiful dog (I really must stop weeping, but I feel very sad for you). Whatever crumb of comfort I can offer you, I offer it. Take care dear Kate, the passing of a family member never leaves us, it just gets easier to bear over time. A BIG HUGE comforting virtual hug to you, sorry I can't rush over with tea and love, we're thousands of miles apart, on different continents, though I wish we weren't. Lots of love and hugs, Vanessa xxx

fee @ chipper nelly said...

How touching (loving the idea of you supping soup together!)
I've not been here before and I seem to have stumbled across you on a sad day.
be back soon with cup of tea for a good read
fee x

two bones and a bagle said...

Oh that's so sad hope you are all ok.I never really got the dog/human connection until Dylan our cocker spaniel came to live with us they really do bring so much joy into your life. You must be feeling terribly sad hope this begins to ease a little. Hugs to you all Debs X

Jodie said...

Beautiful much loved dog. Willow knew she was treasured by you all. xx

Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life said...

I am SO sorry about your puppy. I knew full well the loss when we have to say goodbye to a well-loved furry friend.

Wishing you lots of comfort moments during this time......

Hen said...

Please excuse my belated condolences Kate, but I'm so sad to hear Willow died. It's clear what a major part of the family he had become and I do know how awful it is to lose a pet. In time the pain will lessen but you'll always have wonderful memories.
Hen x

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