Tessa has left us.

Tessa went peacefully last night.

The whole thing took about 40 seconds. Megan and I were with her right through. Ann said goodbye a little while before and fed her a treat but didn’t want to watch her go.

Yesterday was one of Tessa’s good days. She only grazed at her food during the day, but had a good chew on a couple of bones and a few dried liver treats.

Lots of cuddles and brushings throughout the day. At one time she forgot she was an old lady and tried to jump up to Megs like in the old days, but her back legs gave way and she sat down with a bump, looking surprised.

During the afternoon I dug a grave for her under the pear tree, next to Pepe. As usual there were moments of farce amongst the sadness. She was very interested in the hole. You could almost hear her thinking, “Ooh, digging! I like holes. That’s a nice big one. I’d like to be in there.”

The vet and his nurse came about 7.40. We decided to do it on the lawn just outside the back door, where she is used to having injections and so on. I cuddled her head and fed her liver treats while the nurse steadied the rear. The vet cut a bit of fur away from her front leg to expose the vein. The injection is a massive dose of concentrated barbiturate. It acts like an instant anaesthetic, putting the dog to sleep, then into a coma. Then breathing stops and then the heart.

Almost as soon as the injection started, Tessa began to lose consciousness. We eased her into a sitting position then lowered her onto her side before the syringe was empty. By the time the vet had got his stethoscope out of his bag she was gone.

He and I carried her down to the grave. More moments of farce. He had warned us that her bladder might give way, and it did, over him. Then I realised we had her the wrong way round. As I dug the hole, I’d pictured her lying on her right side, head towards the shed, feet towards the house, like she used to lie in front of the fire. But we were carrying her on her left side.

As if it made any difference now! But I wanted her lying as I wanted to remember her. So I had to get in the hole, lower her onto her back and roll her over. At one stage her head flopped and her jaws came together with an audible snap.

I got her lying nicely, ears sticking up properly and not folded back on themselves, legs and tail neat and natural-looking and so on, until she looked comfortable like when she was asleep in the lounge. Then without thinking I gave her a pat and said “Good dog”.

I covered her up gently and Megan found a flat lump of rock to lie on top. Then she made a posy of flowers to put on it.

Megs was brilliant all day and during the vet’s visit and the burial. She spent a lot of time with Tessa too so the old girl had someone with her most of the day.

It was very sad, and tears were shed, but it was definitely time. Tessa’s heart was still strong but the rest of her was failing. She would have deteriorated throughout the hot Australian summer, getting distressed. There were also signs that her kidneys were beginning to have trouble coping.

So, a sad day, but the last kind thing we could do for her, leaving lots of happy memories.

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