The time for Xena to rest eternally came yesterday. There will be no more snoring, no more sock frolics, no more happy Xena greetings at the door. She is now resting peacefully, and I am glad of that only because the pain had begun for her. This is the one thing I could not bear for her to experience; I always promised her that I would not let her suffer.
With Xena gone I will cry, mourn, remember and sob enough for 10 dogs, I am sure. But afterwards two things came to me in another snuggle, this time with Tanner and Oliver joining me.
Just recently when my father passed away, he did it exactly the same way as Xena. We went to sleep side by side--I in the fold out bed at hospice--while he snored like a chain saw in need of a good oiling. That oiling had been the best bath he had received in his two weeks of care at the hospital. His gruff, dominant nurse that I immediately took offense to, had encouraged me out of the room, assuring me that I would find him sleeping peacefully after her skillful and soothing bath.
Was she ever right! I returned to find my father swaddled like an infant, a sight that sent a shudder down my spine and at the same time made me feel warm and secure, just as he apparently did. When he awoke for pain medicine, it was the last time I was able to speak with him. He gave me a loving kiss, even as his lips did not quite pucker the way they used to. Then he slipped once again into a slumber that will last for an eternity.
Xena has now joined him in that place where all beloved family members go. It gives me a small amount of peace to think of them together, Dad rubbing her belly and head, while she wags her tail appreciatively. They will have each other to keep company with, even if only a fantasy of mine. I guess this is my way of dealing with a painful situation. Losing two treasured family members in a few short months is more than anyone should have to bear. But both went peacefully to sleep, ceasing their signature snoring to signal their permanent retirement.
I will miss you my sweet, loyal Xena. Thank you for giving me nearly 14 years of service as a weather alert dog. And thank you for keeping an eye on Dad. You two will make a good team.
Our whole family will always remember the day she came to live with us as if it were yesterday. The recollections of trips to the park, walks through the neighborhood, squirrel chases and tag games will never go away. These and many more will be the memories that will keep her alive in our hearts.
As Xena slipped into her permanent slumber I whispered to my sweet puppy, "Dad is a Packers fan; be sure to wear your green and yellow bandanna when you see him at the Rainbow Bridge." I must have imagined it, but I could swear I saw a slight nod of her head.