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JURE: Saying goodbye to my dog is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do

After nearly 13 years of friendship, I was not prepared for it to end
Coal was the best dog I ever knew. He passed away months shy of his 13th birthday in mid-February. Photo by Brendan Kyle Jure/Campbell River Mirror.

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, told viewers on the Feb. 27 broadcast about his three-legged dog, Dipper, passing away.

It was emotional and Stewart unsuccessfully fought back tears. So did I. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could. But there was an extra layer for me. My dog, Coal, approaching his 13th birthday in the summer, passed on Feb. 15.

Coal was a Border Collie Lab mix and for the majority of his lifetime, it was just the two of us, and I’m happy I got to watch him grow from a sometime-destructive-but-happy-go-lucky puppy into a more mellow and confident dog, only afraid of horses and the vacuum.

He was always up for an adventure, often with his tail up in the air and a random stick in his mouth he picked up along the way. It’s hard to put into words how much this dog meant to me, where in some periods of my life I would go days without talking to anyone (out loud) in a non-work setting. He would often have to put up with me singing randomly about things I was doing, or sometimes just singing along to punk or folk songs out loud and horribly.

But even though it was mostly just the two of us, he was loved by many. He had a special relationship with my parents (my mother still maintains she is the only one he would never jump up on – his favoured greeting for the majority of his life), my best friend we briefly lived with (and have lived beside for the past four years), various other friends, and our growing family.

Coal welcomed my partner and her two sons into our home and our lives with paws wide open, despite getting grumpier and grumpier to strangers in recent years as he aged.

Coal, passed away on Feb. 15 after a sudden illness. I’m not still not sure what happened. His neck ballooned one night, but the swelling went down substantially after 24 hours. His legs also started to go, having trouble getting up and down the stairs or even getting up.

On Feb. 14, I had to carry him down the stairs after he went up to see the kids. He fell trying to get up, but managed to get up without assistance. When he wanted to come back down, he started crying. I went up and got him, brought him outside to go to the bathroom before we settled in for the night. He laid down on a dog bed beside us. He would usually sleep on the bed with us. In the morning, he was usually ready to get out to relieve himself, but he was getting slower and slower in getting up. He managed to get up with some assistance and go outside but didn’t want to spend a lot of time outside, instead wandering back inside to the dog bed. I knew something was up and booked an appointment with my vet.

I knew something was serious but I knew for sure that Feb. 15 was the end when I got home from work. He hadn’t moved at all, after a couple of attempts to get him on his feet I carried him into the car and placed him into the back. He laid there quietly. Anyone who knows Coal, will tell you that in the car he needed to be in the front seat. If he was in the back, he would push his head through the gap between the seats and try to scramble into the lap of whoever was in the passenger seat, excited for what ever adventure we were going on. The veterinarian had no answers but it was clear Coal was in pain. It was clear he was ready to go. It would be unkind to let him live in his painful state. So I said goodbye, and the vets let us stay until 7 p.m., two afters after we brought him in, while we struggled through tears and memories.

I was not prepared at all to say goodbye. It was sudden and the leading theory is that it was an aggressive type of cancer. For weeks after, and even still, I have been flooding my head with sadness, guilt, and anger over his passing. I think those feelings will remain for a long time, but get easier to manage.

For weeks after, and even still, I have been flooding my head with sadness, guilt, and anger over his passing.

I think those feelings will remain for a long time, but get easier to manage.

When we adopt a pet into our lives, they become a part of the family, and they rely on you for their daily needs and happiness. Some days, we fall short.

My advice to any pet-having readers would be to not suppress those feelings while coping with their loved one’s death. It’s harder said than done, but instead of focusing on the end, focus on the memories and the life shared with them. They knew they are loved.

About the Author: Brendan Jure

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