I know there has been a long gap since I last posted on here, but I’m going through one of the hardest times that I’ve been through since losing Frankie. The last two weeks have been very hard indeed, and yesterday they culminated in me and my husband having to make the absolutely heart breaking decision to let our beloved German Shepherd Curley go to sleep forever, at nearly 13 years old.
I first got Curley from the Blue Cross at Bromsgrove in April 2008, and ever since the first day I brought her home she has been my loyal companion, friend and protector. She bonded to me immediately and followed me everywhere, we often joked that she was my shadow. She has been through so much with me, and never left me alone for a second when I lost Frankie. If it wasn’t for her, and her cuddles, love and attention at that time, I don’t know if I would have survived it.
She was 6 when I had her, and with the passage of time she became an old lady, yet still acted as sprightly as a puppy. She was incredibly healthy, I hardly ever had to take her to the vets for anything other than her injections and annual check-ups, and even though towards the end she was an old lady with a huge zest for life.
This year though, at the age of 12 (almost 13), she started showing signs of slowing down. I knew in my heart that she wouldn’t go on forever. First she developed arthritis in her back legs and had to have injections, and then in the last few weeks she got slower and wanted to lie down more. There was no doubt about it, she was getting old and I had to accept that something might happen to her sooner rather than later, and I was pragmatic enough to think that when the time came, if she was in lots of pain and was suffering, I would let her go.
But nothing prepares you in a million years for the moment that something does happen.
Two weeks ago, she seemed completely normal, and then out of the blue she exhibited signs of having had a stroke. My husband and I rushed her round the corner to our local vets, and they confirmed she had had some kind of stroke like episode, but they didn’t know why. At that time her temperature was normal and her heart rate was fine, so they gave her some medication to help her feel better and did some blood tests.
Over the next couple of days she was off her food and very poorly, and I slept downstairs with her because she didn’t have much energy to get upstairs. Her blood test results showed that her platelets were on the low side, so a repeat test was done. At that point she perked up a lot, ate her food and it was like we had the old Curley back with us.
Unfortunately over the course of last week things took a turn for the worst and she went downhill very rapidly. She was sick, listless, panting all the time and she hardly wanted to move. When another blood test yesterday showed that her platelet levels had gone down to dangerous levels, it was treated as an emergency and the vet phoned to say we needed to bring her in to be scanned as soon as we could. I had to go to a meeting which was unavoidable, I had been working from home a lot over the two weeks she was ill to be with her as much as possible, and typically there was an accident on the motorway which meant I was stuck in traffic. I finally got home and she couldn’t even get up. In my heart I knew that I would have to make a decision very soon.
She managed to get into the car and I sat with her all the way as we had to take her to the sister branch of the vets we use in Upton. She was scanned and a lovely vet called Danielle who had been treating her over the two weeks delivered the bad news – the scan showed she had a massive tumour and it had burst and was bleeding. Operating at her age wasn’t an option, the tumour was too far gone and she wouldn’t survive it, and she would only have a few weeks at the most post-op if she did recover.
I knew in my heart that the kindest thing to do was to end her suffering. By this time she would hardly walk and when I got her home, she collapsed and didn’t get up. We spent two and a bit hours with her, holding her and telling her we loved her so much. She had a drink, two rich tea biscuits (she had hardly eaten anything all week) and we put down a soft cream blanket for her to lie on. She was very ill indeed and suffering greatly. What I was about to do was absolutely killing me, and I wasn’t sure I could go through with it, but her suffering was also killing me, and I knew she would never get better, she would just get worse and suffer even more.
At 7.27pm last night Danielle the vet arrived and with me, my husband and my parents holding her and telling her we love her, she fell asleep for the final time and made her journey across the Rainbow Bridge.
And I have been inconsolable ever since.
I know she’s up there with Frankie now, and let’s face it, every boy needs a puppy to look after. But the hole she has left behind in our hearts is huge, and I am so upset about losing her – it is going to take a very long time for me to get used to life without her. My whole routine ever since the day I brought her home was centred around her, everything I did I did around her, she was my love, my life, and my world. And when Frankie didn’t make it, she filled the gap he left behind a little, comforting me and making me feel loved. I couldn’t have got through it without her.
So much about losing Frankie has been brought back to me this last two weeks. You would give anything for just one more second, minute, hour, day, month, year – but the reality is that whatever time you do have with your loved ones, it isn’t anywhere near enough.
When I posted on my facebook page last night that saying that Curley had gone to the Rainbow Bridge, the outpouring of comments and messages was phenomenal – it was just like when I lost Frankie. This reinforced to me yet again how blessed and lucky I am to have such wonderful and kind friends in my life, and to know so many good people. There are some extremely nasty people out there, and unfortunately I’ve come across quite a few but you know what? They are in the minority compared to each and every person who took a few seconds or minutes of their valuable time to be there for me and comfort me. All the nasty people out there who I have ever encountered and who betrayed me can just go and do one, I have the most amazing friends and a great support network around me, which is a hell of a lot more than they probably have.
I’ve had so many messages of support and love, and I am treasuring each and every message that I got. I am creating a memory box for Curley, just as I did for Frankie, and all of the messages I’ve had along with all the Facebook comments will be printed out and stored in the memory box, along with her favourite toy and mementoes.
Just after we got Curley home, I posted on my facebook a final “pupdate” (I had been posting pupdates about Curley for two weeks) and half an hour later I received this beautiful message from one of my friends who I met some years ago at the Cropredy Festival in Oxfordshire. She too had lost her boy Tolly, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Cropredy in 2007. Grab a tissue folks, because this letter from Tolly to Curley is guaranteed to make you cry:
You don’t know me, but we’re going to meet very soon, and I wanted to be the first to welcome you. Otherwise Howie and Toyah are going to be there at the front of the queue getting all the tail wags and licks! I know you’re not feeling great right now, but don’t worry. In a little while you’ll go to sleep, and then something magic happens. When you wake up you’ll be young again! Then you can run and play like you used to, and you can join us all at our special place.
The sad part is that you have to leave your humans behind, and they’re going to cry because they can’t see you anymore. But that’s not forever. It’s like when they go out for a while, and we dogs always greet them like it’s the best thing in the world when they come back. You just imagine what it’s going to be like when they get here and you can all play together again!
So give them lots of love and tell them you’ll see them again one day. Especially your Mummy Lisa, because she’s going to miss you terribly. So we just have to send them lots of love and rainbows from up here, until they get to see us again.
See you soon,
The timing of reading this was just perfect, and it warmed my heart greatly because I knew that when Curley made her journey she wouldn’t be alone – there would be all her fur friends waiting for her, Frankie, Frankie’s Grandad Allan and all her other family members who we have lost over the years. I cannot thank my friend who sent this to me enough, it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.
I wish I still had my precious girl with me. I wish she was lying by my feet while I am writing this like she usually does. It is coming up to 5.00pm, and I keep thinking I need to go and feed her soon (her feeding time was always around 5.30pm-ish). A life without her is going to be hard, but I am reminded of the words in Frankie’s song “Let Me Go” by Gary Barlow, which is also now Curley’s song:
This is going to take a bit of getting used to but I know what’s right for you….
Fly high and let me go
That sky will save your soul
When you pass by then you’ll know
That this gonna take a bit of getting used to
But I know what’s right for you
Let me go….
We’ve created a facebook page for our special girl – www.facebook.com/curleythegsd – where we will post photos, videos and memories of her, and celebrate her life as the best puppy we could have ever wished for.