Annie: Sept 2012-Nov 2017

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Things took a major turn for the worse with Annie overnight.

I got a call this morning from Dr. Nesin at the Chester Animal Hospital.  Annie wasn’t getting better.  In fact, she was declining, and doing so rapidly.  Her liver was still in failure, and now her kidneys were, too.  Her white blood cell count was way up.  She was having trouble breathing.  He told me she wasn’t going to make it.

Given our options (which were few), we decided it was best to deal with this today, and as a family.  I moved some things around at work.  Beth did the same.  We pulled the kids from their classes.  Liv was taking another needed day home from school because she’s still not feeling too hot.  I wonder how much of her sickness is related to her empathy for Annie?  She’s always been all heart.  I drove home and told her the news in person.  She deserved as much.  

It wasn’t long before we were all home, and everyone knew the plan.  We were going to go say our goodbyes and hold her while she was put to sleep.

Jake was quick to announce that he didn’t want to watch.  Liv was just as adamant that she wanted to be there.  Her biggest fear all along was that Annie was lonely, or would die alone.  When I asked her if she wanted to go say goodbye, I got the same answer as when I asked her if she wanted to be there for the death.  “Of course.”  

The staff at CAH was wonderful.  They gave us privacy for our goodbyes and for our grief.  They were soft spoken and respectful, and Dr. Nesin never stopped gently stroking Annie’s back until well after she’d left us.

Everyone shed their share of tears.  Jake is still processing, and doing so in typical Jake fashion – out loud and on repeat.  He’s trying to work through the euphemisms.  Putting Annie to sleep is not the same as helping Annie die.  It’s his ongoing verbal thinking that’s bothering the other two the most. 

My mother had asked how I was doing.  I told her that I’d take time for me after I was done being a Dad.  Dad explains things and talks to the doctors and drives to the vet and pays the bill.  Kids get held and rocked and soothed.  I confess I was proud to see Gabe and Liv fill that same role for Jake.  I often think they’re too young to be this old.  Does that make sense?  Jake has done that for them – or to them.

It’s at times like this that I wish I was a better writer, and could better illustrate the bond between a golden retriever and her family.  It’s also at times like this that I remember that the unconditional love of a dog, with the ever-wagging tail and lolling tongue, is something dog people don’t need to be told.  If you’ve ever experienced that particular flavor of magic, you don’t need me to explain it to you.  You know.

Jake is upstairs in the tub.  He finds them comforting.  Liv is watching Friends reruns.  Again, familiar and a comfort.  Gabe has decided to play his basketball game tonight because basketball makes him happy.  All good coping skills.

Thank you again to those who have reached out to share their prayers and well-wishes for Annie and our family.  We’re a resilient bunch.  We will always carry a piece of Annie with us in our hearts.

p.s.  Dr. Nesin has scheduled an autopsy, because we still don’t have a diagnosis, and I want to make sure Justice isn’t in any danger of contracting whatever has done Annie in.

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    • Darlene Langille on December 2, 2017 at 1:03 am
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    Oh, Ryan, my heart breaks for you and your young family going through this loss. I bless you for making sure your family was together and present to say goodbye as you made the selfless decision to alleviate Annie’s suffering when all hope of a miracle has passed. I love the way you ‘Daddy’; you and Beth were meant to be parents together and your children are blessed to have you raising them. Hugs from the heart and missing you lots,

    1. Thanks Darlene. Miss you too.

    • Anonymous on November 29, 2017 at 12:10 am
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    So very sad for your family’s loss.

    1. Thank you

    • Carol P on November 29, 2017 at 12:00 am
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    Ryan, there are no words as I’m sitting here reading this through my tears. I am so heartbroken for you and your family for your loss of Annie and know that she was just as much a part of your family as your children are. I am terribly sorry that you had to go through this. I think you know how special your family is to me……makes me so sad that you have lost her. You did everything you could possibly do. Love you Whitehouse family. May God bless you and help you through this sadness and give you peace and understanding.

    1. Thank you Carol. God bless you.

    • Christine on November 28, 2017 at 7:31 pm
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    I remember the day you came home with Annie. You had her in the park near my mom’s. She was running like there was no tomorrow. You all were there & playing with her. YOU could tell she was a very loved pup. She grew up to be a beautiful dog. I understand your pain and suffering. My thoughts & prayers are with you all.

    1. Thank you.

    • Verna on November 28, 2017 at 7:17 pm
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    I am so sorry Ryan.

    • Verna on November 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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    So like you to be able to represent the truest of feelings and emotions around this huge loss for you, and for your family. Yes…you will all carry on, but a piece of your family will be missing. You will remember her though in the big and little events that made her time with all of you so memorable and special. God Bless you and your family Ryan. Your friend, Verna

    1. Thanks, Verna. ❤️

    • Anonymous on November 28, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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    I read something not to long ago that was published by a family going through the same as yours… when the young son was asked if he had any questions he replied that he knew why dogs didn’t live as long as humans “ when a dog is born they love unconditionally from birth when I human is born it takes them years to learn how to love unconditionally so people need to live longer than dogs so that we all can learn to live unconditionally “ I think this makes perfect sense I’m very sorry for your loss…

    1. That’s a sweet sentiment. Thank you.

    • Paula on November 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm
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    I am so sorry for your loss. So hard on the family, especially children, but they seem to be finding the coping skills they need to get through this time. I pray fir your family and that you have a smooth (as possible) transition.

    1. It seems like a universal thing for kids to lose a childhood pet, you know? Still sucks. But yeah, they’re a resilient bunch. Thank you.

    • Laurie York on November 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm
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    My heart goes out to you all. We also have a golden retriever, so I know the love that Anne gave you all. Know that we are thinking and praying for you all.

    1. Thank you very much.

    • Jan MG on November 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    • Reply

    I’m very sorry for your families loss, Ryan. That choice is never an easy one. And always made in the interest of our fur faced kids.

    1. Thank you.

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