Coco Chanel Parnell
For the last 6 years, I have had a service dog and, although I was allergic to her and she blew her coat all over my apartment so much that I could have made a sweater every week from her fur, I loved her dearly. A few months ago, I had to take her to the veterinarian for the removal of a tooth. It turned out that she had cancer in her mouth. They removed as much as they could, but the cancer returned within a couple months.
Finally, when her energy waned and she was no longer able to eat easily, it was time to take her back to the vet for the final time. I couldn't find anyone to go with me who wasn't going to fall apart and make it more difficult for me. This one of the disadvantages of being single. There is no one to share the burdens or the joys.
I didn't want Coco to realize that something "bad" was going to happen, so I behaved as if everything was normal, except that the day before I took her in I made sure that she had some of her favorite things: A couple hours of cuddles and tummy scratches in my lap, some pieces of chicken from my dinner plate, a car ride, a short leisurely walk around the apartment complex, etc.
At the vet's office, I held her in my lap like a baby on her back and petted her while I sang her little lullabies that I made up on the spot. She kept looking into my eyes with a mixture of emotions that I couldn't quite make out, except that I could tell she was worn out from pain and fatigue. Eventually, my arms couldn't hold her any more and I sat her on the chair next to mine. There was white fur everywhere: on my lap, my chair, the floor, and Coco's chair. She hung her head in exhaustion.
The vet and her technician were very kind and gentle. The technician was going to pick up Coco from the chair and place her on the exam table, but I wouldn't let them. I had to do it. I pulled my back out and put it into spasm for the next 4 or 5 days, but I had to do it.
Coco was on her tummy, facing me. The vet shaved a small portion of fur from one leg. I kept telling Coco, "Good dog. Coco is a good dog." I wanted to cry so badly, but I had to hold it together for Coco's sake. I didn't want her to know that something was terribly terribly wrong. I kept telling her what a good dog she was and smiling.
She didn't struggle until they gave her the shot. I imagine it stung a little bit. It was over so fast. I told her she was a good dog. She kept looking me in the eyes, and then there was a flicker of recognition that something was happening. The pain was lifting. She relaxed. She died. Her eyes were open. Her tongue came out of her mouth. They laid her on her side.
I fell apart completely. We were all weeping. Me. The vet. The technician. The vet, a compassionate Christian woman, hugged me and said, "I love you." It told her, "I love you too."
I couldn't stop petting Coco and asked several times, "Is she gone?" I could not believe it. Could not stop petting her, even though she couldn't feel it. I tried to close her eyes but couldn't. Eventually, I draped the end of the blanket over her body so I would not have to see her eyes.
Some time passed. The technician left the room. The vet asked me if I would be getting another service dog. The queen is dead. Long live the queen. She recommended I get a standard poodle, the largest size, a smart dog that is easy to train and would accommodate all my needs. I should get a puppy and train it from the beginning.
It is hard to jump right onto the next project of obtaining another service dog, but life does go on, despite the emotionally searing pain. As with all projects, I do not have the resources to obtain a pure bred poodle puppy and pay for training, vet bills, a crate, food, toys, but somehow it will work out. The Lord takes care of me, as he takes care of the sparrows in the field.
Spending so much of my day in contemplation of the Divine has given me a strength I never had before. It has given me the confidence that everything I need will be provided. The Lord knows what I really need in the ultimate, best sense, and I trust His judgment. Trust is a remarkable gift for someone who suffers from PTSD, which generally destroys all of one's trust. Without the contemplative life I am privileged to live, I doubt I would have been able to handle this fresh trauma with any sort of poise. Without having become disabled, without being mostly house-bound, the contemplative life I now enjoy would have been impossible. Consequently, I am grateful for my disabilities. The disabilities, the chronic pain, and the poverty have all been gifts, in the highest sense.
I just have to continue to hold onto Him with all my might, rest in His reassuring embrace and be at peace in the confidence that He is now taking care of Miss Coco Puff also.
Please pray for me, that I am able to continue in faith.
God bless you all.
Silver Rose Parnell