We’ve had a lot going on in our household, which accounts for the lack of attention we’ve given to this blog. We’ve been preparing for and executing on a huge international move, and that’s left little time for many things, including writing which I know I will regret when things slow down. One part of the massive move was determining what we would do with our pets. Having moved Abbey and Jude 8 years ago, John and I were realistic about how complicated and difficult it is to move a pet. We remembered the enormous stress put on them when they were put into a cage in the cargo hold of the plane for hours and hours, not capable of understanding what was happening to them and that it was for the greater good. The move this time is for a set period of time – 2-3 years – and obviously would involve not only one move but another (back) when the assignment was over.
After careful consideration (and much, MUCH back-and-forth deliberation) we decided the best thing was to find foster homes for the pets while we were gone. My dad quickly and kindly offered to take Lucy, as company for his dog Stella. My neighbors agreed to take Mimi, which was perfect for her because she was very used to being at their house. They have a lab which we take while they are on vacation and they take our dogs when we are away. Our dear friends Tom and Tracy agreed to take Abbey. They used to have a dog and cat, but both had passed of old age in the last couple of years. Tracy worked from home. It seemed an ideal match letting Abbey (at 12 years of age) have some peaceful time with kind human companions and no dogs or other pets to keep in line.
We dropped Abbey off 2 days before the movers were due to come, and about 12 days before our flight to Italy. We thought it best for her to be out of the house so she didn’t have to experience the stress of seeing all the furniture go, strangers in the house, basically her world being turned upside down – in addition to a new home setting right around the corner. She took a couple of days to settle in to their house, but then she was lounging on their laps, playing, and adapting to her new home. I was getting sweet picture texts of her settling in.
So, I was shocked to get a call about 5 days into her placement that she had passed away over night. Well, I say I was shocked. I WAS shocked at the time, obviously devastated. I had, however, thought something was wrong with her in the weeks before. I took her to the vet because she was just not being herself, but we were in the midst of a lot of change and we weren’t sure if it was the stress of that or something more so we thought we’d give it time (we’d had blood work done less than 2 months before that visit and the vet said the numbers wouldn’t have changed much in that time and she should physically be ok), and then she’d seemed to have gotten a bit better. In speaking with the (other, partner) vet later, he thinks the suddenness of it means it was a blood clot.
Abbey was a prized member of our household. She slept with Layla nearly every night (shown in the picture above, from March). She was incredibly patient with the children. Small for her size, she kept the dogs in our home as well as any who came to play firmly in their place. Our neighbor’s Lab, Macy, is a good 90 pounds. If she decides to get on the couch I cannot physically move her off. So it always made me laugh when she’d stay at our house and I’d notice she was hovering in the kitchen and not coming into the family room with us. I’d call for her and call for her and she wouldn’t come in. It wouldn’t be until I’d get up to see what was going on that I’d notice Abbey was laying in wait on the path into the family room. Macy knew the boundary and wouldn’t cross into Abbey’s path. Once I would pick Abbey up and out of the way she would come into the room no problem. Abbey was 6 pounds to Macy’s 90. Just goes to show it’s not the physical size but the attitude and swagger that matters.
It’s also the first pet death that the kids have dealt with. On the day of Abbey’s death Layla had a day camp, but Hayden was not scheduled to be anywhere. I immediately made plans for him to be with my friend for the morning while I got Abbey and took care of getting her to the vet for her remains to be taken care of, but then I asked him if he’d rather go to my friend’s house or come with me to say goodbye. Death is a part of life, and as much as we want to shield our children from the hardest parts of life it can be good to let them experience it and help them through the emotions. He did want to come with me, and as busy as John was that week with his work he also asked me to pick him up on the way so he could say goodbye. Only he knows for sure, but I think it was good for him to get to be a part of that, get to see her a last time and say goodbye, get to see how sad John and I were and that that’s a normal part of grieving.
We really miss her so much. We talk about her several times a day still, and it’s been four weeks now. I cried a lot the first couple of days, and Hayden was very curious about whether I would cry all the time from now on, whether I was still sad about it when I wasn’t crying, and why I would start crying again if I hadn’t cried for a little while. Layla has talked a lot about how Abbey is in the clouds now and how she is with Jude (Jude passed away 3 years before Layla but we still talk about him and have his pictures around so she knows he was part of our family but died), and that we’ll see her again someday.