We almost lost Tillie this weekend.

She slept most of the weekend, which I suppose is nothing new, but it was the little things she didn’t do.

She didn’t follow me around when she was awake. I normally literally can’t go anywhere without my little black shadow. She didn’t start to nag us about two hours before her dinner was due. She didn’t suddenly appear when the other two dogs came back from their walk. It’s not that she wants to see them, but they always get a treat after their walk and she believes that she deserves one too!

She backed away from her food dish whenever we tried to feed her and would even walk away from food to get a drink.   If you have ever had or known a Labrador, you will know just how unusual that is.

So this was it.

I made the call I’d been dreading

Monday came. I rang the vets at 08:40 when she refused her breakfast one more time. When we were asked why we were coming down, I gave her name and started to cry. I didn’t need to say anything else. They knew.  We had an appointment for 17:05. The countdown of the day was on.

I sat crying on and off. Well mostly on if I’m honest. She lay there sleeping. I sat there looking at her, crying.

Martin, my husband came home from work at 10:30 (he works odd hours). He walked in; saw Tillie and tears came to his eyes.

Tillie woke up, looked at up him and wagged her tail. I decided to go down the shops to get some treats for Tillie. She deserved to enjoy everything this day and I hadn’t wanted to leave the house before Martin came home.

I hadn’t learned my lesson

I started to get really tearful when I realised I hadn’t learned my lesson from when we lost our previous Labrador, Buffy. We didn’t have any decent photos of her as she got older – I have thousands of Tillie. The one thing I didn’t learn was to have photos of her WITH US. And now it was too late. I wish I’d taken some over the weekend. My red, puffy eyes were starting to hurt with the tears.

We’ve always fed our dogs on kibble and canned food. One of the treats I bought Tillie was some sachets of “wet” food meant for smaller dogs, but hey ho – anything to try and give her something tasty. Maybe it might reignite the eating bug!

She was starting to perk up, but was it enough?

I came back home at 11:30 and Tillie was crunching some kibble. We put some of the wet food in her bowl with some kibble and she wolfed it down! Then she looked for more.

I walked from the kitchen to the living room with a little black shadow behind me. I sat down to cry and got a lick from my little shadow.

Maybe things were looking up? Maybe we were clutching at straws? After all, don’t they say that people, dogs, cats etc., suddenly perk up before they die?  After all, she is now 16 and a few months.

It’s good to have a vet you can trust

The vet we were seeing was Tim. If anybody knows Tim, they’ll know that he doesn’t mince his words. He cares about your feelings, but he is far more concerned in making sure your animal is comfortable and if he thinks it’s fairer for the dog to be put to sleep, he’ll tell you.

Tillie has a horrible open tumour on her leg that is very probably cancerous. I have to wash, dress and bandage it at least once to twice a day. Was Tim going to say that although she’s perked up a little, the tumour is too bad?

We roll up at the vets at 16:50. The car is quiet. We walk into the vets and are told to take a seat – I literally haven’t said a word. We absolutely love our vets – we have known a lot of the vets, receptionists and nurses for years, if not decades. They all know Tillie.

We know everybody is aware of why we’re here from the looks we’re getting. You can feel the sadness coming our way. Tillie, however, is more interested in going to get to know the other dogs in the waiting room.

We’re called in by Tim – this is it.

We all pile into the room, trying desperately hard not to cry (and not doing very well I must add!

Not what we expected

We then hear the words we weren’t expecting. “Today is not the day. Today Tillie goes home.”

Tillie is definitely starting on her journey towards Rainbow Bridge as the increased drinking is a sign of renal failure. She is going to have days when she’s not as interested in food. How long that journey will take is up to Tillie. 

This means, however, we get a second chance.

We are family

We’ll be taking her to Scotland with us on our holidays in two weeks time. As per normal, I’ll be taking hundreds of photos and guess who’s going to be in a lot, if not most of them? Tillie … and Dibbs, Daisy, Martin and me. We are a family and we need family photographs.

Family Portraits are important

I know in my client photoshoots, I will make sure I get photos of my clients with their pets. They don’t need to be up close or be “artfully” posed. They just need to be present, and they need to be interacting and showing the love they have for each other.

Please make sure you have photos of you with your beloved pets. This is why I will be adding an “End of Life” photoshoot to my services – it is never too late to get photos!

As for Tillie, she’s fast asleep at my feet, dreaming and probably wondering how long it is until she gets fed again!