June 24, 2015 was the day that beautiful Chevette and adorable ChaCha crossed the Rainbow Bridge together -- companions to the end. They taught me a lot of lessons in how to love, and how to let go; how to do the right thing for someone else, even when it breaks your heart.
If any word could describe my Chevette, it would be beloved. My constant companion for 15 years, she would follow me from room to room. Where I was, she wanted to be. She was a shy and sensitive dog, always gentle and loving. When I was sad she would come to me, putting her head in my lap, and I can't count the number of tears I shed in her luxurious coat. If I was sick, she would not leave my bedside, even to eat. She was the most loyal friend anyone could ask for. She kept me company in the garden; loved prancing on her tippy-toes on long walks; and was a willing adventurer on years of road-trips. Until her later years, she was always busy, tracing paths in the yard and garden where she loved to explore and chase birds. She took care of me; she felt me; she was a constant in my life that has left a void in my heart.
Three years ago, a gift arrived from Heaven. ChaCha was a round-bellied Senior rescue with no teeth and a tongue that usually hung out of her darling little mouth. She happened to walk by one day with her loving foster mom, Pat Vaughn. Pat had rescued ChaCha from the shelter; nursed her back to health; and lovingly had given her a second chance at life. I didn't see a place in our lives for another dog, but with Pat's coaxing and obviously some divine intervention, ChaCha joined our family. I fell immediately in love with this little ray of sunshine! When she'd wag her tail, her whole body would wiggle. She was pure and simply, a joyful gift.
ChaCha and Chevette became happy companions, with little ChaCha taking the Alpha role of guardian, protector and leader of the pack, to Chevette's delight. She was always in charge, but when we'd head home from walks, ChaCha would trot ahead, but every few steps, would stop, turn around and make sure that Chevette and I were coming along. ChaCha was a gift to both Chevette and I, as she allowed me the freedom to leave them both alone, knowing that Chevette was content and confident with ChaCha keeping her company until I returned. I am sure that ChaCha was an Angel sent to help me, and to be Chevette's comfort in her final years.
I have no doubt that Chevette and ChaCha made a pact together long before this life began. Their bond was strong until even their last moments together, and I know that they are running young and free beyond their worn out, mortal bodies that they have left behind.
Chevette began to get very sick from Valley Fever earlier this year. As her symptoms progressed, suddenly, healthy ChaCha got sick with something no one could diagnose conclusively. It was an odd coincidence, and very troubling to me. I believe now that ChaCha had agreed that they were to remain together in the final months.
As both of the doggies got sicker, I brought them home to Utah, where Chevette had spent most of her life. I wanted her final days to be here, and she was terribly sick. When Chevette got home, she rallied, and had two wonderful months with health, energy, and a very uncommon appetite! Her turn-around was miraculous and I bless every extra day I had with her feeling great, and acting like her old self.
After two months at home, and with Chevette rebounding, ChaCha suddenly had a downturn, and lost all interest in living. We had taken ChaCha to the vet on a Friday, with an acute, terminal prognosis. The very next day, Chevette's health deteriorated before our eyes. In 3 days all of her debilitating symptoms returned, as if it was her turn, and she didn't want ChaCha to leave without her.
I made the hardest decision I ever had to make, to let them go; to free them from their suffering; and to let them go together.
I'm astounded by what transpired 'the day' the vet was to come. The doggies spent the day with me relaxed and calm. I had plenty of time to lay with them, talk with them, tell them everything I wanted them to know.
10 minutes before dear, compassionate Dr. Isom arrived, ChaCha suddenly got up on her weak, wobbly legs and went over and laid right down beside Chevette. And this was how they chose to leave their bodies -- laying 6 inches apart being petted and held until their last breaths. They both were so calm, so peaceful, so seemingly ready to go -- no anxiety, no fear; they just laid there together and drifted off.
#1 - I am sure that their respective missions on Earth were complete, and they were ready to go. The grace they showed in their final moments made it easier for me to bear the experience, and perhaps that was part of their mission -- to help me learn how to let go.
#2 - I think that ChaCha came to us to make Chevette's final years happier. And she helped me, too, knowing that Chevette had a wonderful companion in spirit.
#3 - Their pact included going together, at the end, probably because they both knew that in some way, it was comforting to me to know that they would not be alone in their transition. They both sickened at the same time; and they kept the other company in both health and sickness, and in the final transition.
#4 - My love for Chevette is incredibly deep. But in the 3 short years that I had ChaCha, she brought so much joy, light and laughter into my life I will be eternally grateful to her for that. I loved her immediately, and having her, even for such a short time, truly changed and brightened my life. Another mission accomplished. Whether 15 years with Chevette, or 3 years with ChaCha, I loved them both in equal measure.
#5 - Without a doubt, ChaCha was the catalyst in putting me together with my dear friend Pat. I may never have met her if she and ChaCha hadn't walked by, and been invited in to visit by Brad. Another mission accomplished.
I have had doggies for @20 years of my life. First Levi, then Levi and Chevette, then Chevette, then Chevette and ChaCha. The bond you have with your pets is so deep, it can't be adequately explained unless you've felt it.
The house is quiet now, empty of their loving presence, and I am left to wonder how to live my life without dogs. A trip to the store was always first and foremost a shopping trip for them. Would it be ground turkey, or chicken breast? What new supplements could I give them to make them feel better and keep them healthy? I would leave the store only to find that usually, I didn't have any food for myself!!
Who will I talk to? They were my constant company, and I kept up a steady stream of dialog day in and day out. Their emotional welfare was always topmost in my mind. I find now that they are gone, every fleeting thought was focused on them. Are they happy? Do they want to go for a walk? Time for a treat?
I cared for Chevette for so long, and then both of them in their final year, that I will have to adjust to a life with a different purpose than caring for them and making them comfortable. As hard as that was, I cherish every moment I spent with them, good or bad. How wonderful that they are free from the suffering, and I am free from watching them suffer. But even on the worst of days, I would care for them all over again just to have them back -- albeit, in a healthy state.
They taught me many lessons, about love, acceptance, companionship, and ultimately, letting go. They will be in my heart forever.
Chevette and ChaCha will be missed by all that were lucky enough to be in their presence. They also leave behind their 'second master' - Brad, who loved and cared for them; and Pat Vaughn, who saved ChaCha's life and loved her to the end. What a wonderful gift she gave us all.
The last night I spent with my beloved doggies, I woke in the middle of the night, and this poem came to me. I will share it here as a last tribute to the two doggies that shared my life and my heart:
"As Angels carry you lovingly over the Rainbow Bridge:
May you be Happy.
May you be young again.
May you run, bark, and play with all your old friends.
May you roll on your back and dig in the dirt,
Free from old age, and all earthly hurt.
And on that great day when my soul is set free
I'll rejoice when I see you both running, to greet me."
Love to my doggies, Chevette and ChaCha
Your loving friend, Beth