Saying goodbye to my baby boy

Sara and her beloved pooch.
Sara and her beloved pooch.

THE house doesn’t feel right anymore.

The kids are tucked up and asleep in bed, my husband’s making music off the kitchen and I’m up late on my laptop: business as usual.

But one member of the family is missing and never coming back – our dog.

My first baby – my only boy.

His bed is gone from the corner of my bedroom; his sun lounge no longer with the potted red geraniums out front.

His bowl is removed from the laundry and there’s a big empty hole out back that I’m reluctant to fill.

I’ve known for some time we could no longer keep him and I’ve held it together remarkably well but when I walked in through the gate today  – after leaving him with his new family – and his little face wasn’t there to greet me, my emotions took over.

I’ve written off the day with tears and regret and no amount of my children’s hugs and ‘You did the right things’ are changing this feeling anytime soon.

Several weeks ago he bit my three-year-old daughter on the face, badly.

There was a lot of blood and screaming and it was a simply awful moment in time for her, my husband, me, and my five-year-old who witnessed the attack.

We rushed to the hospital, where my youngest and I stayed for the next three days.

As we drove there my eldest asked from the backseat, panic in her eyes: “Is this all a dream, Mummy?”

And it was a good question: it felt like a nightmare.

The plastics team treated my youngest in theater: it was hard seeing her little body go under anaesthetic.

Our dog was a nipper, but had never drawn blood. This was serious – and it sealed his fate.

As fortune would have it, that very same week a family from across the river was wanting to adopt a basenji.

So we took him there today with his humble belongings and said goodbye.

There is no doubt in my mind he will be happy with time: he’ll be living his best life in Bibra Lake.

Our girls will be safe, my anxiety will lessen and the meter man will finally be able to enter the gate.

We can visit him as we like, even take him for walks – but I feel awful: I let him down and I sent him away.

I have memories of bringing him home as a scared little pup, shaking in my arms on the long drive north.

There is guilt, sorrow and resentment at play and I feel myself slumping into a depression that I hope will fade by tomorrow.

I know I just need time.

So many families go through this.

Several nurses at the hospital said treating children attacked by the family dog was their most common job.

This is parenthood: stepping up and doing what’s right by our kids no matter how much it breaks our hearts.

Life is full of tough decisions, Mum said.

I guess I’ve had it pretty easy to only really now feel the gravity of her words.

sara.fitzpatrick@communitynews.com.au

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