Tap.Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound of Sammy walking endlessly around the house for three hours. I would doze off from time to time, but I was attuned to his wandering until finally, it stopped. The silence was almost deafening and fear of the unknown began to set in. I lay in bed paralyzed with fear. Finally, I dared to get up.
As I entered the kitchen from our bedroom, I looked for him in his bed or laying on the rug. I even glanced at the couch thinking he may have mustered the strength to jump. He wasn’t there. I walked across the kitchen and into the hallway. There he was laying in the hallway, still and motionless. I began to cry and called for Terry. I couldn’t bring myself to pick him up.
Terry picked him up and found he was still breathing. He’d just exhausted himself with his pacing. Terry handed him to me. I hugged him and cried happy tears because he was still with us. I cried ugly tears because I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. This was his fifth day, maybe sixth day, without food and very little water. Most of the time he would slowly walk to the water bowl and stand over the bowl, gaze and dip his head enough to wet his mouth. Almost like a human at the end of life who needs to be given a wet sponge just to keep their lips moist.
I already had an obligation in Hendersonville that morning and believe me, I delayed until I could delay no more. Looking for any excuse to linger longer but I knew Terry would be with him. We had already decided the day before that he would not be left alone.
I prayed on the way up Hendersonville that God would take away the decision I knew in my heart of hearts we were going to have to make. But at the same time, I didn’t want that to be the last time I saw my little boy. The struggle was real but I had to leave it in God’s hands.
As I headed back home around 2:00 pm, I had not heard from Terry and I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Honestly, I didn’t want to know, especially if the news was bad because I knew I couldn’t drive home. So, I didn’t call.
When I pulled into the garage Terry was coming outside and then I saw him, Sammy following Terry, albeit extremely slowly, to greet me. Just like he always did. I scooped him up, kissed his little head, and whispered a prayer of thanks to God.
He settled in my arms and then we just sat together as usual on the recliner. He fell asleep and seemed very settled but it only lasted for about an hour. He awakened and began pacing and wandering again.
Terry and I watched him wander about aimlessly and I asked him,
“What time does Bonnie Brae close? We can’t put him through another night of this.”
“5:30 I think.” Remembering what he was told the day.
“It’s time,” I said. He knew it. I knew it. Sammy knew it.
He called around 4:15 and they told us to come at 4:30. So, we had to walk out the door without stopping to pass go. I put Sammy in his favorite bed and carried him to the truck, crying the whole way.
Terry finished answering questions about Sammy and giving them the information needed as soon as he was off the phone we both wept for the rest of the trip. Honestly, I don’t know how even saw beyond his tears. Sammy, for the first time in two days, was so peaceful. There was not a hint of angst in him. He lay on my lap in his bed and didn’t move a muscle. He was tired and I think he knew his fight was over.
We were so emotional walking into the clinic and the receptionists were so kind and compassionate. It was obvious they felt our pain. They quickly whisked us into a room and it wasn’t long before Dr. Fitch came in.
He knew this was not a decision we had made lightly and he was not going to try to talk us out of it. Several articles I’d read over the past few days said, “You know your pet better than anyone and you’ll know when it’s time.” He did listen as I told him of the events leading up to our decision (a story for another time). He went over the formalities and explained the procedure. Stepped out of the room and gave us a few more minutes with him. Again, Sammy never moved a muscle. He lay still and quiet in his bed. He didn’t raise his head. He wasn’t nervous. He was at peace.
As the sedative was administered, Dr. Fitch had warned, he may resist and flinch a bit. Then as the sedative moves through his body, he will most likely have some muscle twitching and pee. That did not happen either. Sammy didn’t flinch when he gave him the shot. His muscles never twitched and he didn’t pee.
After about 5 minutes or so he came back into the room to administer the IV to stop his heart. I lifted him out of his bed and gave him to Dr. Fitch. He laid him on the table, Shaved a little bit of hair from his leg, and inserted the IV, while Terry and I stood beside him with our hands on his head. It didn’t take long for his heart to stop. Dr. Fitch and the vet tech hugged us and left us alone for as long as we needed. We bawled and clung onto each other, petted our boy, and kissed his head one final time.
On January 5, 2023, around 5:00 pm our Sammy boy left this earth and our hearts will never be the same. It may not have taken long for his heart to stop beating but it’s gonna take a long for our hearts to stop grieving. He was our constant companion for the past 14 years.
As much as my heart is grieving, I simply cannot imagine the grief of losing a spouse or child. The pain of loss is so much more than I am experiencing right now. I cannot imagine walking into an empty house knowing Terry would not be coming back. I cannot imagine knowing that I couldn’t pick up the phone and call my children. I cannot imagine knowing that my children would never walk through my door again. And for those whose pets are their children because they have none. For those whose pets are their constant companion because they have none. I believe their loss goes to a much deeper level that I probably don’t understand. Yet there are times in life when God chooses to use things to give you deep empathy and compassion for others, I believe this is one of them.
Sammy “little boy” Yarborough
October 22, 2008 -January 5, 2023