A Letter to Winnie 🐾

Hello, sweet girl. Do you want another treat? Sweet potato? Beef jerky?

I started writing this post the night before you leave our family, perhaps in hopes to find a sliver of relief or solace. I’m a mess. I’m broken.

You see, this Thursday morning, the scheduled ultrasound confirmed a mass that the other veterinarian felt in your abdomen. It revealed the mass measured larger than a 16” softball, tumors all over your liver and on your spleen. The ultrasound also showed free floating liquid, indicating internal bleeding; likely from a tumor burst. The cancer is all over.

It happened too fast. Of course we noticed the quick weight loss, the odd continued peeing of the bed (but some meds seemed to help after a few days). But the blood tests were seemingly normal save high white blood counts. The growth on your ribs was benign. You still barked at the mailman but your spunk was gone, you took less trips up the stairs, reduced bedtime participation, didn’t eat all of the kids’ droppings and laid around more.

I guess I should’ve known better. I’m sorry.

In a twisted way, the decision was easy; there is too much, all over. And a tumor could’ve burst at any time and your organs could stop. In a minimal array of gratitude, we are grateful that we weren’t offered a path to put you through surgery, recovery and emotional waves of false hopes, and months of more vet visits.

So, tomorrow morning, you will be at peace.

But this in no way is easy.

You see, you’ve been my girl for more than 30% of my life, nearly 11 years. Longer than any job or relationship. My first real pet. I got you from PAWS Chicago as a single girl in the city. You were about a 10-week-old puppy. I stayed in on a Friday night to go visit PAWS, met you and your puppy brother; woke up early (!) on a Saturday morning along with my then roommate who blessed the commitment to get you. She — “daddy” — loved you dearly. The name they gave you was “Goddess of Rock” (odd) and offered that your tail was bitten off in the womb. You were found in Indiana, and given my family and my Hoosier ties, I knew you were meant to be mine. Winnie seemed like a fitting name for such a cute and love-able furry friend.

Baby Winnie Dee - maybe 10 weeks old

Baby Winnie Dee - maybe 10 weeks old

I had you meet the family in Indianapolis over Thanksgiving, enrolled you in doggy daycare three days a week (you got picked up by a school bus) and a walking service the other days as a responsible young professional new doggy mom.

About a year later, we both met our loves. You met your furry love, Wally the English Bulldog (the king of the West Loop), as well as the human love of your life, Dustin, who we share. Perhaps a small part of the reason I fell in love with Dustin was because of the love he showed to you. At the first meeting at my condo while Dustin and watched the Bears game, one of our first dates, Wally threw up on my cowhide rug. And at your first visit to Dustin’s condo, you returned the favor and pooped in Dustin’s bedroom. You and Wally were the best of buds. You took care of him with many of his health challenges. I hope you are excited to see him and clean his face.

Wally and Winnie at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

Wally and Winnie at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

You’ve been a part of three moves, countless life events and happy memories (with wonderful accompanying photos that I poured over) — like trips to the beach, park frisbee and the birth of our human babies. You loved them instantaneously, protected them and showed crazy patience, perhaps more than me.

We made the decision to have one more night with you so the kids could say goodbye, specifically Jayden (nearly 3.5), whether he fully would understand or not. Thursday night, I told Jayden that we needed to say goodbye to you. He looked at you and in expected three-year-old fashion, he asked me why. I’m not sure what was the right answer, but I told him that your body is sick, you are going to play with Wally and won’t be at our house anymore.

This is was the first time I really cried in front of Jayden - like ugly cry. He kinda froze, then asked, “what’s wrong, mama?” I told him that I’m sad that we have to say goodbye to you. A few minutes later, in his sweet tone that makes me melt, he nuzzled up to my leg and asked: “are you feeling better, mama?” I replied, “I’m still sad about Winnie, but it’s ok to be sad.”

You see, Winnie, I probably knew deep down this past month-or-so that this was a reality. But couldn’t bring myself to accept it.

We took some photos and off to bed they went. I carried you to our bed and cried and snuggled you and bawled.

Saying goodbye - Thursday, Sept. 5

Saying goodbye - Thursday, Sept. 5

***

Yesterday morning, we said goodbye. It was an awful morning. You put your paw on daddy’s arm up on the vet table to nearly tell us that it’s okay. I shattered. When we were ready, and it was done, I have to say that you looked peaceful laying there; your face wasn’t nearly sad or strained. We drove home in tears and shock. We walked through the door at our house; I bursted out instantaneously, the house is already empty. There is no tapping of your nails, no greeting at the door, no visual of you napping on the couch. I hate it.

(We’ll have you know that we forced ourselves to grab a quick late lunch after we tried to do some work; and when we came back the basement was flooded — a broken toilet due to Jayden’s excess toilet paper fun — I’m sure you would’ve had crazy anxiety with all the noise and workmen coming through.)

My heart is broken, I have a pit in my throat and stomach… a piece of me is gone. I’m crying uncontrollably and just want you to be nuzzled next to me and snuggle you.

My sweet girl, I hope I was a good mommy to you. I hope you enjoyed your life. I know I was sometimes hard on you; and I’m so sorry for that.

Thank you for showing so many love, licks and snuggles. I know that the beautiful memories will make me feel a bit better and I’m endlessly grateful for them, but it hurts so bad. More than I could have ever imagined.

But now, everyday, you really will be next to Wally.

I love you. Please watch over us (especially the crazy redhead).

Custom oil paintings of Wally and Winnie

Custom oil paintings of Wally and Winnie

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