Comment on Pet loss and self-forgiveness by Aster.
I am so sorry for all of your losses, my heart goes out to you and I hope you can find peace from the guilt. My sweet little pug died this week, she was ten years old and I’d had her since I was eleven. She was my mom’s dog originally, she had always wanted a pug and the two of them were inseparable through middle school, high school, until eventually my mom thought Puggy would have a much happier and more exciting life if I took her with me to college, since she was always working and leaving her at home. I adored her and spent every moment I could with her, I got her registered as an Emotional Support Animal so she could live with me and my roommates, she loved meeting new people and was very excited whenever we had company over, and everyone who met her loved her too. I cooked her meals and dressed her up in little clothes, I thought I was such a good pet parent for getting her up-to-date on her vaccines, and was so terrified of something happening to her that I took her to the emergency vet in a panic for a broken toenail. I took her with me on camping trips, to events, to the beach and the dog park, and introduced her to all my friends’ dogs, who she was generally indifferent to. (She preferred people.) I brought her with me apartment hunting and to hotels when I needed to travel for work. Ironically, me leaving her at home while I was at work would have saved her life. I would bring her to work regularly and leave her in my car, always very cautiously leaving the windows down, giving her water to drink as well as rubbing water into her fur to help keep her cool, and checking on her every hour. I knew that it was dangerous to leave a dog in a hot car, but every time I did it she was fine, so I let my guard down. I was running late to work, leaving from a friend’s house, I didn’t want to leave her there because I thought it would be rude to leave my dog unexpectedly at their house, and I had to leave at 5 am and they weren’t awake for me to ask. I left her in the car and took none of the precautions I usually did, including not leaving her water to drink. I checked on her on my break, and didn’t even let her out of her carrier, just made sure she still seemed okay, reached in and petted her little head and told her I’d be back later, didn’t get water, didn’t bring her inside to cool off, nothing. I stood there and ate a snack at my car and then left. truly don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve spent the last week reliving this moment, trying to piece together how I could possibly have been this stupid. I went back inside, and didn’t check on her for over three hours, during the hottest part of the day. When I came back out to my car and opened my passenger door to greet her, I realized with horror that she was lying there limp. Something was clearly wrong. She was still breathing, and I splashed cool water on her, panicked and drove her to the nearest emergency vet as fast as I could. By the time I got there, I knew she was gone. I was devastated. The vet tech and I cried together, I called my mom and told her what happened through sobs. My poor baby. She had so much life left in her. She was perfectly healthy and alert, zooming around like a puppy that very morning. The only sign of her age was her gray hairs. How could I have let this happen to my very best friend, who I loved so deeply? I had planned on getting her health insurance, so I could afford emergency surgery just in case she ever needed it. For as long as I could remember, every time I left her alone, I gave her a little kiss on the forehead and told her I loved her, just in case something terrible happened and that was the last time I saw her. I had even spent nights holding her and crying because I knew she’d have to go someday, and just the thought of it made me unbearably sad. I never imagined it would be so clearly and completely my fault. I pictured her dying of old age, me having to make the difficult decision to let her go because it was the most humane option, holding her in my arms and telling her how much I loved her one last time as she peacefully passed. I am now haunted by the image of her slumped in her carrier, dying alone and scared and in pain because I just couldn’t bother to get her water, or check up on her more frequently, or bring her inside, or leave her at my friend’s house, or drop her off at my mom’s, which was only 20 minutes away from my friend’s house. I couldn’t step away from my minimum wage job that I have grown to hate since this day. She deserved so much more life, and a much happier ending. I feel that this guilt is truly deserved, much more than any of the other stories I’ve read here, and I don’t know how I can move forward with my life knowing I did this to my sweet girl who loved me unconditionally and trusted me to protect her. I failed her, I failed my mom who trusted me to take care of her, I failed all my friends from college who adored her, and I failed myself who loved her more than anything else in the world. I wish I could have at least said goodbye and that I’m so, so, sorry, and that I loved her, but it was too late.
After seeing my dad repeatedly adopt, neglect, and rehome or accidentally kill pets, particularly dogs, I swore I would be the most loving and attentive pet owner I could, and that if I ever made that horrible mistake, I’d never let myself get another pet again. I feel horrified that I have witnessed a pet die from neglect and still let this happen the way it did. If I had one wish, it would be to go back to the morning of that day and leave my poor Puggy at home.