‘Our eyes met. They were her begging eyes. Eyes that said, ‘Help me Mama.’: Woman devastated after losing her beloved dog, ‘My heart just wasn’t ready’

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“Today was a day I’ve been dreading. For the past few weeks we’ve known the end was coming, but didn’t want it to come so fast. Our 11-year-old American Bulldog, who has been with us from the very beginning, was sent to fur-baby heaven today.

Just shortly after Kyle (my husband) and I met and moved in together we decided we wanted to get another dog. He had Titian an American Bulldog who was a little over a year, and I just knew I had to have another one. When the time came my husband (boyfriend at the time) drove out to a small home just south of our hometown and brought home our Chloe. It’s hard to believe she was the runt of her litter. Our worlds changed, she was the happiest puppy from day one. So here we are, 18 and 24 years old with 2 puppies and nothing but time.

Tori Bruno

On April 29, 2008, Kyle proposed to me. I had come home from running errands to a note sitting on the door, sending me on a scavenger hunt. I went upstairs, downstairs, outside, to the garage, somehow back into my car (the man is sneaky I tell ya), and then back upstairs. Chloe and Titian followed me wagging their tales so hard you could hear them on the walls as we walked around, they were just as excited as I was. My last clue told me to go into the living room and find something hot. There sat Kyle on the couch, and all that really ran through my mind was, ‘bow-chicka-wow-wow.’ But turns out there was a note in the fire place with a box attached that read, ‘You found your gift here you see, now answer my question. Will you marry me?’ HOLY crap! I was so shocked, and now when I look back on that amazing moment, I remember Chloe and Titian running around us wagging their tales and jumping around with excitement.

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Tori Bruno

One day while I was at school Kyle called me and said something was wrong with Chloe. He had come home from work and noticed she was incredibly swollen, covered with hives all over her body. After a vet ER trip, an EpiPen, and a dog that looked like a Thanksgiving day parade balloon, Chloe was back to herself. We really don’t know what stung/bit her, but I can happily say it never did again.

Fast forward to April 1, 2010. Positive pregnancy test. Chloe was there to celebrate with me. 7 days later the worst day of my life happened. As I laid on the couch I knew something was wrong, something didn’t feel right. Chloe was with me when I went into the bathroom to confirm that my very worst fears were happening. After a night in the ER with Kyle and the following day at the OB, it was confirmed. We’d just lost our baby. My heart broke into 9 million pieces. I can’t tell you how many baths I soaked in while my arm hung over the edge holding on my dog. She was always there. Come 8 weeks later we were totally caught off guard by yet another pregnancy test. I could barely stand the thought of carrying a baby then. I was so scared that I would get broken again, I didn’t know if I could have taken another lose. I cried, a lot. Chloe was there, always setting her drooly jowls right on my leg reassuring me it was going to be ok.

In January of 2011 we welcomed home our oldest, Wyatt. We had read somewhere in our many handbooks or baby sites that it would be a good idea to bring home a blanket from the hospital for the dogs, so they would know new baby smell. I wasn’t there when they got their first sniff of Wyatt, but I was told they went wild. Once we finally got home Chloe and Titian never left Wyatt’s side. They would do tummy time with him, help with his feedings, the works. She was there.

Tori Bruno

Just 6 weeks after Wyatt was born I lost my best friend to cancer, my grandpa. My grandpa and I were crazy close, especially so during the last few months of Wyatt’s pregnancy. Let’s talk about those postpartum hormones, they are crazy as is but then add in such a huge lose. There was lots of uncontrollable sobbing, late nights of disbelieve, and honestly just plain depression. Chloe was there. She’s always slept on my side of the bed and would always nudge my hand at just the right moment. And if she wasn’t by my side of the bed sleeping, it was guaranteed she’d be laying in the middle of the hallway for us to trip over in the dark.

We’d moved again, only this time to a friend’s duplex. They had around 12 horses, and the dogs absolutely loved to terrorize them. One night they had gotten out of our yard and thought it would be fun to cause a stampede. Bulldogs are not meant to run with the horses, I can say that with complete confidence. Chloe came inside not well, the kind of not well where I slept on her dog bed with her. She had been stomped on. Right on the top of her head. It was a pretty terrible and scary scene. She’s my first baby. She’s always here, what would I do without her?! Thankfully she pulled through and made a full recovery. Around this time is when Titian changed. Not towards Kyle, Wyatt, or myself, but towards Chloe. After one too many dog brawls we had to make a hard choice, Titian was too aggressive. Then it was just the 4 of us; Kyle, Wyatt, Chloe and me.

We’ve known since we got married we wanted more than 1 child (really, he wanted 2 and I originally wanted 4), so we started trying for another. Loss after loss after loss, my heart broke over and over again. More long, sad baths with Chloe beside me. WHAT is happening?! WHY can’t I have a baby?! It was like every month was torture. She was there with me. After so many loses, and then the long lull in nothing, we went into my OB’s office and decided to start fertility treatments, and with the second try we have our Maddie. Just like with Wyatt, we brought home one of her blankets from the hospital for her to sniff and love on before we came home. Chloe still slept right next to my bed, but never in the same exact spot. She was always sure to make a point that I needed to check on her first before getting to my crying babies. She was there.

When Maddie was 14 months, very, very much to our surprise, we were pregnant again. In November of 2015 we welcomed Tucker and our family was now complete; Kyle, Wyatt, Maddie, Tucker, Chloe and myself. If we were home, I promise you she was near at least one of us. Either snoring away, drooling for the food we had, or making us all ask who farted. She was there, that was for sure. He favorite spot to lay down and relax was just at the top of the stairs. In the perfect spot to make sure we’d have to zig zag around her, and I can’t even tell you how many times she was accidently hit with that baby gate. Just at the top of the stairs we have a vent. Every time she’d get excited you could hear her tail hitting the vent, ‘thunk thunk thunk,’ and because it was on the vent you could hear her excitement through the entire house. That was her spot, where she could see and smell everything. Every night Wyatt would ask if Chloe was ready for bed and call her into his room. This would always make Maddie so mad because she just wanted Chloe to love sleeping with her. I don’t know why, but bedtime was always in Wyatt’s room. Nowhere else would work.

Tori Bruno

In March we lost my grandma to cancer. We knew she was being called home and spent 7 days in the hospital slowly watching her fade. Knowing Grandma was dying was painful, but watching my mom, aunt, and grandpa lose her was one thing I will never heal from. And every night when I would come home, Chloe was there. She’d sit with me in the bathroom while I cried. It was around this time when she started sleeping in our room again. She found her old spot, right next to my side of the bed, just barely under foot. We’d known for a while that she wasn’t doing well. Her hips were bad and to be really honest, she’d helped with one too many kitchen clean ups.

Tori Bruno Photography

Two weeks ago, Kyle and I noticed she was sitting up and breathing really weird. The sitting up was our first red flag. If you knew Chloe at all, you would know she’s lazy. She was either laying down or actively wiggling with excitement. There really was no in between with Chloe. As I went to check on her, our eyes met. They were her begging eyes. Eyes that said, ‘Help me Mama.’ I gave her a good once over checking to see what was wrong. And there they were, two large masses right on her throat. I knew our time was far too limited then. I also knew I needed Kyle to be the one to tell me when, and to help me prepare the kids. I will never be known as a person who can hide their emotions, even currently I am a mess. We’d prepared the kids for what would likely happen sooner than we want.

The Thursday before Memorial Day she wasn’t doing well, her breathing was becoming more labored than before and I could feel more lumps growing in her throat. Friday we noticed she stopped eating, this was our sign and we knew it was time. On Sunday we told the kids what the next few days would entail. They took that news pretty well. I on the other hand bawled the second they couldn’t see me. By Tuesday morning I knew it was time. Wyatt was at school, Maddie would be soon and Tucker was enjoying running around half naked. Maddie and Tucker spent the morning trying to get her to eat, giving her treats and love. She even said, ‘Come on Tuck, maybe if we scoot back she’ll eat.’ They really loved their Chloe, she was always there with them.

Chloe was ready, and even through all the preparation for the day, I still wasn’t. I needed a picture of us, one of she and I. I really tried for a happy ‘lovey’ picture, but I couldn’t hold it together. Instead I laid next to her bawling and dreading the end.

Tori Bruno Photography

Just an hour after this picture, Chloe was gone. For the first time she wasn’t here. When the kids came home from school, Wyatt asked where she was, and all I could do was shake my head trying to keep my composure for him. Maddie and Tucker came into the kitchen when we’d started picking up Chloe’s food bowl, a bowl that was still full of her food and treats from the kids. It hadn’t clicked with them yet, and she asked if she could give Chloe another treat. We had to explain she couldn’t have treats anymore, she wasn’t here.

Tori Bruno Photography

Just typing this hurts. Huge crocodile tears are streaming down my tear-stained face. She’s not here. We’re on day two of no Chloe, and it is hard. I don’t have to make sure the toilet bowl is up and clean for her to drink from, I don’t have to watch for her at the top of the stairs so I don’t bonk her with the gate, I can’t rely on her to clean up the floor after every meal. She isn’t here.

I know she is finally not in pain, but now my heart is. My heart just wasn’t ready.”

Tori Bruno Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tori Bruno of Tori Bruno Photography in Omaha, Nebraska.  Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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