Losing a member of the family is one of the most devastating things that can happen. Whether it is a human family member, or an animal one, losing someone is always hard.
On Tuesday (the 18th of December) my boyfriend’s family lost their beloved dog, Hannah. I moved to Spain in 2008, and the first one that greeted me into this new land, apart from my boyfriend, was Hannah. She was a brindle Boxer with docked ears and a stubby tail. She was extremely intelligent, energetic, and always had a smile on her face. I swear she was a human in her past life.
Sergio, my boyfriend, and his family – his mother, father, and brother – got Hannah from a breeder when she was just a puppy. Supposedly she was the runt of the liter, but I could not imagine Hannah a runt. She was extremely playful, always up for a good game of hide-and-seek, and she became bi-lingual, speaking Spanish fluently and learning some English from me, the American of the household.
My greatest memories with her are taking her for her afternoon and nighttime walks, watching her gulp down her food in one bite, and playing “Donde Esta Kalie” (“Where is Kalie”), which is where I would hide and she would have to come find me. She really did prove the saying “Man’s Best Friend” correct.
On New Years Eve this year she would have turned 10. However, a few months ago, she had a hysterectomy. She was never spayed, due mostly to the fact that Spain is not educated enough on proper dog care. By that time I showed my boyfriend and his family the benefits of spaying and neutering their pets, Hannah was too old to be fixed. She had her periods every few months, and it would be torture to take her out and fend the male dogs off of her. She was also in pain those months, along with Sergio’s mom who had to clean up after Hannah when she dropped blood on the floor.
Eventually, she had to have a hysterectomy due to complications with her period. When they did the operation, they found a cancerous tumor and removed it. But, a few months later, the cancer was back and there was nothing left to do. Sergio’s parents spent their days tending to her, making sure she was as comfortable as possible. Hannah could not lay down, and therefore could not sleep. In the late afternoon of the 18th, it was time to put her down and end her suffering.
The past days have been hard for everyone. Hannah was definitely a member of the family, and before I came into Sergio’s parents’ lives, Hannah was their only daughter. We loved her like a human sister, and treated her like a queen. The holidays will definitely be a sad time this year due to our loss, but we know Hannah is looking down on us, becoming our newest guardian angel.
I am writing this post mostly to grieve and let out my feelings, but also to advocate for spaying and neutering your pets. Dogs and cats are more susceptible to getting uterine infections, breast cancer, and testicular cancer when they are not fixed. Pets truly do live longer and healthier lives when spayed or neutered, and maybe if Hannah would have been spayed, she would still be around today.
Please read more about the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets on the ASPCA website – Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet – and educate yourself on how to allow your beloved pet to live a happy, healthier life.
The holidays are right around the corner, and it is the time to remember those we have lost, and to cherish those we still have here with us. Tell your family you love them, your friends you appreciate them, and your pets you adore them. But most of all smile and enjoy life.
I would also like to mention the victims and the victims’ families of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Today it has been one week since that tragic day, and all our hearts and prayers go out to those who were affected.