How do you explain it to a dog? How do you say, with those big brown eyes looking up at you, that life isn’t fair? How do you explain that even though you only met her two days ago, that you love her? That you wish she could have stayed longer? That she really would have had a great time with the kids? That they would have mauled her and raced her and slept under the stars with her? That a whole lifetime of love was waiting for her, and she’ll never get to experience what should have been her destiny?
How do you say, with that tender, frail body laying on the cold metal examining table, that a couple thousand dollars is worth more than her life? That your heart is breaking, that you should never be faced with a decision like this, that if you could do it, you would spend 100 times that amount, if even a glimmer of hope remained? How do you look into her eyes and tell her that she isn’t going to make it, and that you were the person who had to make the decision? How do you explain to her that you swallowed the lump in your throat and signed the bottom of the page with euthanasia spelled out in big bold letters at the top?
How do you say, as you ignore the filth on the back of her legs, that she is beautiful and precious, and you can’t stand to let her go? How do you explain why you wrap your arms so tightly around her? How can you tell her why the tears come to your eyes and why you wipe them away and try to pretend they weren’t there at all when the veterinarian comes back in the room? How do you explain why when it’s time for her to go that you can’t seem to release her, and yet with the vet looking on, you uncurl your fingers and wipe the hair off your sweaty palms and somehow find the strength to turn your back and walk out the door?
How do you explain it to a puppy? And why should you ever have to?