A Sad Farewell by
10
(12 Stories)

Prompted By Final Farewell

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I’ll never forget that look in her eyes as she lay on the vet’s cold metal examining table. It was hard to look back. I felt like she was asking me, “Can I trust you? Am I going to be okay?” And I knew I was betraying that trust. She was going to die. I was helping her die. And it was breaking my heart. It still makes me cry.

Piglet was the little mutt who was dropped with the rest of her litter on Highway 1 outside the quaint village of Mendocino on the Northern California coast. She was a survivor. She was the smartest little dog–way smarter than her highly pedigreed, adopted brother Dylan, the Irish Setter, who chased the sheep over the cliff by LIttle River and ended up in the animal control truck. Way smarter than her sweet but dumb adopted sister, Flopsie, who we thought would help keep Dylan closer to home. Wrong.

Piglet came to live with us when I was pregnant and taking weaving classes at the Mendocino Art Center in 1970. The teenage girl who had picked her up on the highway asked me to watch her while she went home for the weekend. The girl never returned. Piglet was ours.

She was loved by everyone who met her. Well-known around every town we moved to. She even made it into the Senate records in Olymipia, Washington when we lived there. She liked to wait for the Senators to break for lunch because they would often share their lunch with her. But one time she followed them into Chambers and was the subject of a floor debate about whether they should have her removed. I don’t know what the final vote was. But she came home, wagging her tail happily.

Piglet and my daughter, Tosha, grew up together. The three of us lived with another woman and her dog, and the two dogs used to run out the front door of the house to greet the mailman. One day Piglet picked up too much speed and flew over the flower box, landing two stories below on the ground. I guess she broke her back because her back legs no longer worked. Tosha and I took her to the vet. He couldn’t fix her. And we didn’t want her to suffer. We made the hard decision, trying to do what was best for her. Our eyes filled with tears. But her eyes–that sad, scared, hopeful look she gave me– haunts me to this day.

Profile photo of Penny K Penny Righthand


Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. I really feel your pain Penny, we’ve had many beloved cats, one with cancer who we selfishly kept alive way too long.
    Be comforted, you did the right thing.

    If you don’t know it, find this poem
    MY GOOD DEATH by Dalia Shevin

  2. Suzy says:

    Oh Penny, this is so touching. I know how hard it must have been to make that decision. You write so lovingly about Piglet that it broke my heart too when you had to let her go. Thanks for sharing Piglet with us.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for sharing your love for Piglet with us. A beloved pet is a member of the family too, and just as difficult to say goodbye. They are loyal, non-judgmental and always loving. We can’t let them suffer. Looking into her eyes at the end, you know you had to let her go.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    As the mother of a vet, and as the owner of several pets that had to be euthanized, I understand how hard it is to go through this. For some reason, the pet often appears to rally just before the euthanasia, making the owner feel even worse. But my daughter tells me dogs don’t express the pain they are in, so it is up to those who love them to decide it is the right time to let them go,

  5. I admire the way you bookended the story with the reference to Piglet’s death at both the opening and the closing. It made me want to learn as much as I could about this dog, knowing the the demise was coming.

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