CW: This post discusses the death of my dog.
Our dynamic is by nature incredibly supportive, but the past couple of weeks have put that support to the test. Fortunately, I think we have passed that test, showing that no matter what, we are there for each other. Grief can tear relationships apart. The pain associated with loss can be overwhelming, so much so that you want to shut yourself off from the world, even the ones you love.
Last week, we had to say goodbye to my sweet dog, Bruno. He was diagnosed with cancer over the summer, and we were lucky to have as much time with him as we did. He was my first dog as an adult, a scared pound puppy who needed a lot of love and coaxing to convince him that we were nice people, that we would never hurt him. When he finally came around, he was completely devoted to me. A constant fixture by my side, he followed me everywhere, somehow found room to fit next to me in my chair at night as I watched tv, and didn’t need to be told what to do, he just knew what I wanted. We had almost ten great years together with many adventures. He was a great dog, and we were a great pair. I miss him so much.
We knew that this was coming, so we were able to prepare for it a little bit, mentally. You can’t really prepare yourself emotionally. I certainly wasn’t prepared to witness my husband’s grief, I thought about my own, but didn’t realize how much it would affect him. I wasn’t focused on him in that way, and it caught me off guard a little bit to see how upset he was.
Even through our grief, we found a way to support each other. We made the decision together, that it was finally time to say goodbye. We’d discussed it in the early days of his diagnosis, that we didn’t want to keep him if he was in pain. We talked about how we would want it if we were in his position, and even though he wasn’t able to tell us, that we would have to speak for him, to give him dignity in his final passing. The hard part was that he wasn’t in pain in the end, but he was suffering. The cancer spread, and he lost his sight and hearing almost overnight. He was a dog that was so connected to his humans, that not being able to hear or see us was terribly lonely. He spent much of his last days wandering the house, running into walls and crying. It broke my heart to see him like that, and I put myself in his shoes. If I knew I was terminally ill and suddenly lost all sight and sound, would I want to continue on? Would I want to live out my last days alone and scared? I wouldn’t want that for myself and I didn’t want it for Bruno. I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I couldn’t bear to see him like this. I also told him that he had a say, that he was a part of this too. So, we came to the decision together, we supported each other’s point of view on the situation.
The night before we were to take him to the vet, we stayed home and snuggled with Bruno, taking turns to hold him and pet him, each making sure the other got enough time. When it was time to go to bed, Sir picked him up and laid him down between us so that he wouldn’t feel alone during the night. I woke up early the next morning, dreading what was to come, and rolled over to find Bruno sleeping in his arms like a teddy bear, both of them curled around each other in the sweetest embrace. It is something I will never forget, both sleeping so peacefully together.
I was surprisingly calm that day. We made the decision, and I knew it was the right choice. I had my husband’s support and he had mine, we would do this together. The ride to the vet was strange. Even though he couldn’t see or hear, Bruno knew he was in the car, a good sign for him because the car usually took him to fun places. He kept trying to stand up to ‘see’, stepping all over me in the process as I held him tightly in the back seat. I could see my husband’s red-rimmed eyes through the rearview mirror.
The process at the vet was a blur, but a few moments stand out in my mind. He took charge, leaving us in the car to go in and make sure they were ready for us, he bravely carried Bruno through the halls of the vet’s office to the procedure room, he held me tightly as we felt Bruno take his last breath, and he ushered me to the car afterwards and took care of the paperwork, tears still in his eyes. The moment that stands out the most to me is when we were driving home, one less family member with us, he put his hand over mind and said, “You were really good with that dog.”
Unfortunately, I had to rush to go to work right after we got home. I didn’t have even a second to sit down and process my feelings. Work was shitty, one of my clients didn’t show up to our meeting, one meeting ran two hours over. I was tired and cranky, unfocused and emotional. At the end of the day, Sir took me by the shoulders and told me I was done. I wasn’t allowed to work any more, I was to eat my dinner, have a drink and rest. I really needed that, for him to take charge and tell me what to do, to make the decision as to what was best for me. And because of it, I was able to finally relax and process my emotions.
I felt very taken care of that day, like I do most days. My husband is naturally supportive, but our D/s dynamic has given us a framework to keep us checking in with each other. We check in during impact play or rope scenes the same way we check in during difficult life moments. A inquisitive look, a squeeze of a hand, an almost imperceptible nod, these actions can help us gauge how the other is doing. Our D/s is always evolving, and with it we grow together. We will probably encounter troubles in our future that will be more difficult than saying goodbye to Bruno, but hopefully we can use this as a lesson. Hopefully, we will remember how we dealt with this and find even better ways to support each other through hard times to come.