We've been receiving cards and emails (and telephone calls) about Lot's death. I'm grateful for them all, for the acknowledgement of what a big change in our lives it is not to have her living with us any more.
The first time we received a card like this from our vet was after the euthanasia of a cat five years ago. I was a bit taken aback, as I hadn't expected it and wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I'm afraid the cynic in me was reminded of The Loved One, but at the same time I found it touching.
We've had occasion for two more cards since then - for another cat and for Harry last year - and I was able to drop my defensiveness and accept the expression of sympathy. I knew this time we'd also get a card about Lotte. We received two - one from the vet who came to the house to administer the injection, the other from the vet we've known for years, who treated the Lotster on Wednesday but had the day off on Thursday.
He wrote: Dear all, I was saddened to hear the news on Friday - we were all hoping Lotte may have rallied again, especially given the good blood result on Wednesday evening. Lotte was one of my first patients in 1997 and I've always had a soft spot for her - a real little person - she didn't perceive herself as a dog I don't think. I know she'll be horribly missed by you at home. Having had her for 13 long years she's been a huge part of your family and shared many milestones I'm sure. I'm sure you'll remember her for all the love and affection she provided and I'm also sure she had it in return. Fond regards, R.
I cried when I read it. And again when I read the card sent by one of my closest friends: I'm feeling very sad about Lotte at the moment. What a wonderful dog she's been.
She was a wonderful dog. Another friend made me burst into tears with a simple line: I know you loved her dearly, and I hope you had the time to say farewell and thanks to her. I'd been a bit tormented about that - it feels so unnatural, so against the grain, to arrange for the death of someone you love. It doesn't feel very thankful, even when they're in discomfort and you know they're better off dead. How do you express your thanks to a dog? And thankful I do feel - extremely thankful that through a highly serendipitous encounter, she came into our lives. How often, really, does chance play a big part in our lives? You could say there are lots of tiny little chance events each day and maybe that's true - but there are big structural factors which lead us to be where we are each day, doing what we do and interacting with the people we interact with. But co-p's adoption of a stray dog really did come about through pure chance, an irregular series of events which led her to be in the right place at the right time to meet Lotte - a meeting which enriched our lives.