Monday Night Bernie

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tonight, the chapter closed on my beautiful Bernie's life.

As you know, she was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease in 2009. She had responded well to the treatment plan that the vet prescribed so when she started acting sluggish last week, I chalked it up to elevated levels and the necessity for an adjustment of her meds.

But on Saturday, she stopped eating completely and that continued all weekend. By Sunday night, she was looking gaunt and dazed, pacing into the kitchen seemingly wanting to eat but then unable to. She was up all night long and I was afraid to sleep for fear that she might fall down the steps with her increasingly unsteady gait.

I took her to the vet this morning, thinking that an afternoon with an IV would have her back sleeping on the couch next to me tonight. X-rays showed that she had an enormous mass on her abdomen that was pushing on her stomach and she seemed to have some internal bleeding. They sent me to a specialist who gave me far too many "could be this, could be that's" and not enough promises of a longer, better quality of life. I couldn't selfishly subject her to an extra month or two of surgeries and possible chemotherapy on the "hope" that she would live a little longer.

So I made the awful decision to put her to sleep. I took her home for a few hours so my sister could come and say goodbye after work. Bernie had become a shell of the dog she was just last week and she laid her head on my chest while I held her and dampened her fur with my tears.

The most beautiful part of the day was the awesome kindness of strangers that I encountered today. And I don't mean the vets or techs but fellow pet lovers who happened to be in the offices when I came in crying and cradling my beloved Bern.

One woman held my hand as she caressed Bernie's face while another offered her McDonald's lunch and a shoulder to cry on.

My friend, Debbie, drove Bernie and I back to the vet and she stayed in the room with me even though I know she was off the charts out of her comfort zone. I will always love her for being there for me as she has been so many other times.

As I sit writing this, I can't believe that Bernie isn't laying at my feet as she did every night. She must have known the end was near because though she was never one to sleep in my bed, she was there beside me for the last three nights.

My parents ADORED Bernie, even though they initially protested.

"A dog? How are you going to take care of a dog??"

Well, one look at Bernie and they were in love. She was the grandchild they never had.

See what the hat says?

Just as it comforted me when Mom passed away in March that she was now with Dad, it comforts me to know that Bernie is hanging out with her Gammy and Poppa.


  1. Oh Chrissy I'm so very sorry for you. I lost my beloved little yorkie to Lymphoma 2 years ago. I too had to make the desicion to let her go.
    My heart goes out to you, I pray you will find peace.

  2. I am so sorry. This made me cry.

  3. I'm so sorry! I completely understand. A few years ago I had to do the same thing for my beloved Spot. He was 13 years old, and terribly diabetic. As much as I wanted to keep him healthy and around just a little bit longer, it eventually got to the point where I couldn't watch him suffer anymore. :( It didn't make the trip to the vet any easier, but it was the best thing for him.


  4. Dear Chrissie, I cannot express all the mixed feelings washing through me (pain, sadness, relief that my own Nina is still sniffing my feet right now, shame that I feel that relief, and many many more). I started to read your post with dread and almost wept when I had come to the end. I really am sorry for your loss - see how helpless my words can be? I'm not SORRY; I'm angry and sad and would like to be there for you, like, physically, to give you a hug and let you show me the place where she slept and the photos you've taken of her and let you talk and weep about her and weep with you and 1000s of other things… I'll be thinking of you and want to send you at least this virtual strong hug, alright?

  5. Heartbroken for you. I'm so sorry for your loss. I could barely read your post through the tears. My thoughts are with you.

  6. Oh, I am so sorry for you. Reading this post I remembered the last moment of Cookie who crossed the rainbow bridge a year and a half ago at the age of only eight, and tears wet my eyes. But, I believe they never leave us even though we cannot see them with our eyes. We can always feel them in our heart. Rest in peace, beautiful Bernie.

  7. Big hug for you. We've grown to love Bernie through pictures and stories. Thank you for sharing her life with us. Even tho we've never met we share your grief. My thoughts and prayers for strength are with you.

  8. Sniff. Our thoughts are with you. Sleep tight with Vinny and Millie. Bernie had a wonderful life, you made the right choice and she's no longer in pain now. Run free Bernie!

  9. Well, I'm sitting here at my computer bawling like a baby.

    After all these many years of blogging with you, I have always felt as if Bernie was like my own so I feel this loss very deeply.

    You've been through so much these last two years with the loss of your father, mother, and now Bernie. That's a lot to go through, girl. As Dieter shared, I wish I were there with you right now to give you a huge hug. Just know that I'm sharing much Reiki with you; believing that it will confort you at this time.

    ((((((( Chrissy ))))))))))

    I love you, dear friend.


  10. Big hug girl. Been there. It hurts, but the time comes when the only kind thing you can do for your beloved friend is to help them cross the bridge. Takes a while, but at least for me it eventually gets to where you can remember the good stuff. I'm missing Bernie too, long distance. Hugs

  11. Hey girl, Kinda at a loss for words. Seems like life has really dumped on you lately, and i'm really sorry for that. I have had to make that kind of a decision too. It is not an easy one to make. My pup had been with me ten years, but had kidney and hip issues. I cried all afternoon the day I had him put to sleep. My ex used to make fun of me for keeping the sympathy card the vet sent me. One more reason to stay away from that heartless bitch. But I digress...... Anyhow, I will be keeping you in my thoughts. T

  12. @Pam,
    Thank you. I'm so sorry about your Yorkie.

    Thank you. They leave us way too soon.

    @Sunny Dee,
    Thanks. I'm so sorry about Spot. I had a diabetic dog, too. It was awful when he was blind and we had to let him go, too.

    You are so sweet. I can feel your virtual hugs from her. Give Nina a squeeze for me. You mentioned that she was sniffing your feet and for as odd as it may sound, I used to sniff Bernie's feet and tell her they smelled like salt crackers. I sniffed them one last time before I said goodbye.

    Thank you. I'm so glad she only suffered a few days.

    I remember crying when Cookie passed as well. You express such a beautiful sentiment. Thank you.

    @Simply Suthern,
    Thank you. She would have loved you guys.

    I know. I have to keep telling myself that. Thank you.

    Of everyone on here, you've probably "known" Bernie the longest and I know you were her biggest fan. I told God he can start bringing on the good stuff any time now.

    Thank you for your friendship. xoxo

    Logically, I know that. I just wish my heart would understand. Thanks for the hugs.

    I'm sorry about your dog. They bring so much happiness to us in the short years that we have them. I don't understand people who can't relate to the joy and eventual sadness of a relationship with a pet. It's abnormal to me. Good thing your ex is gone. BAH!

    What't the saying? "What doesn't kill you..." Boy am I gonna be STRONG.

  13. Chrissy, you are strong and brave and you made the best decision you could for Bernie. Pets know when it's time to say goodbye and the fact that she spent that time sleeping with you was her way of giving you the comfort you would need. I will sure miss the Bernie posts.

  14. God how awful and heartbreaking. Good wishes to you.

  15. Oh Chrissy, the tears well up. May the love you shared help you through your grief and help you heal. I think this might help...

    Living Love

    If you ever love an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember…

    The first is a day, blessed with happiness, when you bring home your young new friend. You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed. You may have asked numerous opinions of many vets, or done long research in finding a breeder. Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment, you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter – simply because something in its eyes reached your heart. But when you bring that chosen pet home, and watch it explore, and claim its special place in your hall or front room – and when you feel it brush against you for the first time – it instills a feeling of pure love you will carry with you through the many years to come.

    The second day will occur eight or nine or ten years later. It will be a day like any other. Routine and unexceptional. But, for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time friend and see age where you once saw youth. You will see slow deliberate steps where you once saw energy. And you will see sleep where you once saw activity. So you will begin to adjust your friend’s diet – and you may add a pill or two to her food. And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself, which bodes of a coming emptiness. And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off, until the third day finally arrives.

    And on this day – if your friend and God have not decided for you, then you will be faced with making a decision of your own – on behalf of your lifelong friend, and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit. But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you – you will feel as alone as a single star in the dark night. If you are wise, you will let the tears flow as freely and as often as they must. And if you are typical, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand your grief, or comfort you. But if you are true to the love of the pet you cherished through the many joy-filled years, you may find that a soul – a bit smaller in size than your own – seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come. And at moments when you least expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, you may feel something brush against your leg – very, very lightly. And looking down at the place where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lie – you will remember those three significant days. The memory will most likely be painful, and leave an ache in your heart. As time passes, the ache will come and go as it has a life of its own. You will both reject it and embrace it, and it may confuse you. If you reject it, it will depress you. If you embrace it, it will deepen you. Either way, it will still be an ache.

    But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when – along with the memory of your pet – and piercing through the heaviness in your heart – there will come a realization that belongs only to you. It will be as unique and strong as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost. This realization takes the form of a Living Love – like the heavenly scent of a rose that remains after the petals have wilted, this love will remain and grow – and be there for us to remember. It is a love we have earned. It is the legacy our pets leave us when they go. And it is a gift we may keep with us as long as we live. It is a love which is ours alone. And until we ourselves leave, perhaps to join our beloved pets – it is a love that we will always possess.

    ~ Written by Martin Scot Kosins, Author of “Maya’s First Rose” ~

  16. You already ARE strong.

  17. A wonderful tribute. I lost my two dogs to divorce and have barely seen them in over a year. This brought that home to me, and I'm looking at one of them staring down at me from a bulletin board right now.
    As I said on FB, the two of you were lucky to have had each other.

  18. @Scribe,
    Oh, thank you so much. I'm going to miss posting about my Bern.

    @Laoch of Chicago,
    So true.Thank you.

    Oh my gosh, this was so beautiful! Thank you so much for posting it here. xoxo

    You know, I've actually surprised myself. :-)

    I'm so sorry you are separated from your babies. At least you have kitty company.

  19. So sorry for your loss. I also had to release my beloved (16 yo) bichon to doggy heaven. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I've since adopted a rescue Chi & although I'll miss Ashley Poo-Poo forever, I'm very grateful to have Lia. I wish the same for you.


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