I wrote the following text a few weeks after Nero passed but for some reason could not bring myself to publish it on the blog. It’s now been almost one year to the day since Nero crossed that rainbow bridge and even though reading this still brings me to tears, I feel it is finally time to share…
My beloved Nero,
They say a dog’s companionship will bless you with the best days of your life and one of the worst. Yep, they got that right. Those who are lucky enough to have experienced the bond and devotion that a dog offers will understand.
I knew in my heart that day of doom was impending, coming at us with increased speed, unavoidable, inevitable in every sense. To choose our last moments together was truly the most difficult decision of my life, one I am still consciously regretting till the facts hit me all over again.
The day the vet told us that euthanasia was certainly on the horizon, I didn’t listen. Didn’t want to or couldn’t – looking back I can’t tell which. We’d always been the underdog with chances slim and next to none. We’d always proven the doubters wrong and loved when we succeeded in doing the impossible. It’s who we were, it’s what we did, it’s what we became together…
You were diagnosed with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (also known as DM) and your bladder began to fail you. I knew this disease would get worse and I promised you that when it became too much, I had to be selfless in my decision. Being afraid of letting you go would cause you to suffer and that was the last thing I wanted. Never did I think it would come around this quickly. The vet sounded so serious, but I shrugged it off as being pessimistic. I truly thought we had months at the very least, maybe another golden year or two together. Those words don’t ring true when your dog is still full of life. Nero, your condition was neurological, meaning that it could not be fixed. The only guarantee we had is that it would get worse…
We tried control and management as best we could, but you told us that you were done. It wasn’t pleasant for anyone that night three weeks ago and I promise you it wasn’t for lack of trying. We were stuck in a vicious cycle of bacterial infections where you could not pass urine on your own. You were a champion throughout all those X-rays, scans, catheter procedures and medication. You were so brave and took everything in your stride until that day. Nothing can prepare you to play the role of God, nor the feeling of guilt that comes hand in hand with it. Drowning in ‘what ifs’ and knowing you had a healthy appetite and could still play made it next to impossible. I kept asking other dog owners when I should let you go. Asked them how I would know? What if I missed the signs or worse misread them? I Googled it, asked strangers online if they could help me pinpoint that moment. I was so afraid I would make that choice too soon or too late. Everyone said the same thing ‘’your dog will let you know.”
They were right. That final night made it clear to me. I foresaw the dark ahead and in those last moments I knew it was the right thing to do as your big head laid in my lap. I would give anything to bring you back free of that illness. Honestly, anything.
You my darling, were my biggest challenge, my greatest teacher and most cherished friend. Life isn’t the same without your Nero nudges under my arm or the heavy pitter patter of your paws around the house. Seeing your face light up when I reached for your leash or knowing I had your full attention the second I took that step towards the doggy drawer. I miss your silly sand digging in circles, your polite single woof to wake me up if you needed a wee in the middle of the night. I miss those bright amber eyes that showed the soul of a fighter, our public transport journeys together and how all the passengers would point and stare at your size and beauty in awe. All those pack walks, cities, shops and woodland areas we visited. Oh, and how could I forget to mention your passion for tennis balls? Never have I met a dog as eager to get that ball as you and it brings a smile to my face thinking of your determination. You deserved a thousand years on this earth buddy and I feel truly lucky that I was blessed with your friendship and loyalty. I’m so thankful for the way we changed one another’s lives. I am honoured that I was the one to show you my world and in return, you showed me yours. You taught me how to be more dog, to speak canine and influenced me in ways I never could have imagined. What makes my heart sink is that we didn’t have long enough. Our story had only just begun. Discovering this whole new world where you were not just another aggressive Alsatian began a movement. You were my partner, powerful, majestically proud and a symbol of what is achievable with patience, perseverance and training.
A girl and her shelter underdog shattered the stereotype and began building an empire from the pieces. We mastered our fears and together we channelled our experiences to bring balance and good. We became one in teaching those misunderstood dogs and their humans how to have canine conversations. We began a dog training service with a passion-fuelled purpose, a story and a mission. Nero, you really were a God among dogs and how I wish we had found one another sooner.
You taught me patience and calm. You tested me, and I tested you and we came out victorious. On our last night together I told you what an amazing dog you were and how much love we all had for you. I miss you Nears and I won’t ever stop missing you. I will be forever thankful for your lessons and I am honestly so, so proud of the wonder dog you became.
I promised you that no matter what, I would continue this journey we began together. In your name I would go forward and using what you taught me, I know I will be able to offer the same life to another shelter dog one day. Your legacy will continue no matter what.
Until we meet again, know I will bring tennis balls and pizza, that you have my heart and that your family and friends will miss you forever more. You were the truest treasure of a dog and you will always my Super-Nero.