Monday, August 30, 2010


Well, I've put it off long enough.

Mr. Quimby and I euthanized our dog Selma a couple weeks ago. It was a sad, but not necessarily a difficult decision once we had all the facts. We took the girls to school and then took our other dog, Rudy, with us to the vet.

Mr. Quimby held Selma in his arms and I leaned over her, petting her, looking into her eyes and telling her the story of the first time we met. I told her what a wonderful dog she had been, thanked her for allowing Beezus and Ramona to come into our home and never, ever, growling or snapping or exhibiting any sort of potentially dangerous behavior. I apologized for those months when the girls were infants when we couldn't give her as much attention when we used to and I promised her that we did the best we could.

Then, I felt the life slip out of her.

I asked St. Francis of Assisi to shepherd her into the special place of our universe reserved for our beloved animals. For while I know that Selma does not have a soul, I do believe that she has a spirit, an essence, a life force that will not leave our world.

It was a deeply sad experience for Mr. Quimby and a profound one for me. Feeling the life slip out of her gave me an even greater appreciation for the miracle of creation, the sanctity of life and the dignity of all living beings. It may not make sense, but there's no other way to describe it - it was a profound experience.
. . . . . .

When the girls came home from school that day, we waited for them to take off their shoes and go to the potty.

We told them simply, "Selma died today." and then waited for their questions. Most of their questions could be answered by the facts we had told them previously:
"Selma is very, very old and very, very sick. The vet cannot make her better. A shot will not make her better. She will die and she will go over a rainbow bridge to get to pet heaven. In pet heaven, she will have friends to play with like Sunshine the cat from next door and Norman the dog from down the street." We also spun these facts into a fairy tale that we told them over the 5 days or so before Selma would die. For the most part, their questions were variations on the above information and we just had to reformat and/or repeat it.

After 3 questions, Beezus said "Now we can get a cat !" Ramona said "We can get another dog who can use Selma's food bowl." Beezus: "Let's get a dog that listens better !"

A few minutes later, Ramona looked out our big picture window into the trees in the neighbors yard. "Selma is up there in heaven on top of the trees. Hi, Selma ! Hi, Selma !" Mr. Q had to leave the room at that point.

Later that evening, Beezus had more questions:
B: "Mommy, how did Selma die ?"
TSM: "She went over the rainbow bridge and into pet heaven."
B: Exasperated sigh. "No, Mommy, how. did. she. die ?"
TSM: "Well, how do YOU think she died? "
Honestly she looked at me like I was just stupid, sighed and said very slowly and loudly: "I don't KNOW how she died."
I thought for a second about the most straightforward and simple way to tell her. "Her heart stopped beating and her lungs stopped breathing and then she died."

1 second later.


2 seconds later.

"Can I watch some more tv ?"
. . . . . .

I kid you not, for a couple days afterwards, I could still feel Selma's energy in our house. I also told anyone and everyone about her. A couple days later I could still feel her energy near the front door but not in the corner where her bed was. Then, a couple days later that was gone too.

Rudy seems okay. He's 12 years old and moving slower. He's always been an anxious, nervous dog and now he seems even more so in the evenings.

She was such a sweet, sweet dog. Yes, her bark was completely annoying but that's what beagles do.

She was a sweet dog.


Rachel et Natalie said...

I am glad you found the right words for your girls.
and yes that made me cry

Maud said...

I'm sorry. She had a good life with a lovely family.

Stimey said...

Love to you.

Laurie said...

I read this with a very, very heavy heart Ellen. I'm sad for all you. Please send Mr. Q. my condolences.

Cassie Bustamante said...

aaaw, ellen, i am so sorry! i had no idea that was going on. and your kids are precious. i told my kids once about my dog i had when iw as a kid. sawyer asked where that dog was now, and i told him that the dig had died a long time ago. he asked me ,"mommy, did you cry, were you sad?" and i said, of course i was sad and yes i cried. and he said very happily that the dog was in heaven with our fish goldie that had just died. it really touched me that he, at the age of 3, got that i should have been sad over that. i think thta kids are just the most emotionally aware and charged little people.

Sandy said...

It is such a hard decision to make as they are one of your family. You did give her a great life and she will live on in memories.

Anonymous said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss. Beagles are wonderful family members, and Selma sounds very, very special.

Love to you.

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