I Love You Obie

It was almost ten years ago I accidently killed my own dog while anesthetizing him for a routine dental cleaning.  I have not lost a dog to anesthesia before or since.  I have lost two cats and a kitten to anesthetic deaths, all prior to Obie.  I have anesthetized thousands of patients with no complications.  Statistics don’t matter when your pet is 100% dead.

Obie was brought into the hospital I worked at in Littleton with his friend Herbie Dog.  Their owner had passed away and their caretaker did not know what to do with them.  We had Benji Dog at home.  Obie came with the name “Benji” so we renamed him Obie (O.B.) for “Other Benji.”  For ten months, it was really fun to have three goofy old Poodles to walk with and play with and just hang out with.  You will have to get Max the Cat’s side of the story from him.

Obie died first, suddenly and tragically.  I don’t remember how long our team performed CPR, I just remember we didn’t hold back with anything we had, and were exhausted and shocked when we finally quit.

Benji died also suddenly and tragically five months later, but with none of the horrible heart-clawing guilt to go with the sorrow.  And Herbie, Herbie was the best of all I suppose.  We had him euthanized at sixteen and a half years of age when he could no longer function due to the severity of his arthritis.  Less than two years after we adopted Benji, our first dog, and all three were gone.  My grieving for Benji and Herbie, if the strands can be seperated, which of course they can’t be completely, was sad and straight-forward and almost complete.  My grieving for Obie was jagged and painful, stilted and at times abandoned, an open wound that I did not know how to treat.

I have always struggled with depression, but the struggle has been multiplied since losing Obie.  Struggling is better than not struggling I suppose.  I was seven months pregnant with my first baby, Amanda, when Obie died.  I really wanted my Grandma Amanda to meet my daughter Amanda.  My Grandma Amanda died the same month as Obie did.  I warn clients that when two horrible things happen in a short span of time, the grief is not added, it is multiplied.  And I hover to make sure they are ok.  But I let them assume that I know because I am a veterinarian, not because I still cry when I try to revisit September 2000.

Obie was our blind dog.  I am not sure he even realized it, as he was very well adapted.  We called Obie our Swiffer Puppy, because he was soft and fuzzy and white and his fur collected everything.  He had two surgeries to attempt to restore his sight.  Neither restored his sight, but he came through both surgeries without a hitch, which I did not even think to thank God for at the time.  After each surgery, he wore an e-collar to assure he would not paw at his eyes while they healed.  Obie was the only pet I ever knew who LOVED his e-collar.  He would stand in the middle of the living room listening for Max the Cat or Herbie Dog, then run at them full speed, picking their hind end up in his e-collar and make them play “wheelbarrow” with him across the room.  Then Max would scowl, or Herbie would stand confused, and Obie would smile a big blank-eyed smile with his tongue hanging out.  He had the best smile, as beautiful as any Greyhound’s smile.  He was the happiest dog I have ever known.

When Obie died, Mom and Dad sent us a TCBY gift certificate and a card that I still have.  I realized recently that I have not been back to TCBY, my favorite yogurt place ever, since we used that gift certificate.  How could I have not realized that sooner?  It has been almost ten years.  That’s a weird thing not to notice.  Now that I have, I probably still won’t go back.

Stephanie gave me a very sweet card too and a bag of Hershey Hugs, and a real one.  I have also not eaten Hugs since I ate that entire bag in one day.  Also weird.  I love chocolate.I miss you Obie.  I love you.  I’m so sorry buddy.

I have told myself all these years that I have not written about Obie or discussed his death much because I don’t want people to think anesthesia isn’t safe.  It is.  I also probably do not want people to think leaving their pets in my care isn’t safe.  Who knows why I waited?  I didn’t even know I had frozen yogurt and chocolate issues until recently.

But also, I probably haven’t said much because I didn’t want to go through this.  What was I thinking writing this when I am alone?  It has been in my head so long, I guess I just figured it was a rainy, depressing day anyways, so why not?  This is horrible.  But maybe it will be better later.  Most days are.  Some are still pretty rough though.  Guess I just made this one of them.

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6 Responses to “I Love You Obie”

  1. This speaks clearly of a love of dogs, an amusing understanding of the interactions between pets, and of the author’s desire for closure on many levels. Bravely done, Shawn.

  2. Jodi says:

    Oh Shawn, how did I not know this? I think I was so wrapped up in my own grief at the time (1999 is when I left Texas, I wasn’t very healthy in 2000). I am so sorry. I also know for a fact that NO ONE blames you. You are THE most amazing person ever. You have the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I know. I love you!!!!

  3. Kristi says:

    Shawn, I know you love and care deeply for all of your animals, that’s what makes you so so special!!! I also remember how much O.B. meant to you. I never understood the poodle thing and probably never will, but I do get that you LOVE them!! Keep writing awsome letters like this, it has to help the grief. Also remember, I am only a phone # away anytime you need me!I love you!

  4. Mary Haight says:

    Well said, Shawn. It’s good to write or speak these feelings, get them out into the sunshine…the sting of guilt disperses, and, although the grief remains, it is not the stuff of dark and dank places – and over time becomes more the lingering sad (they are gone) happiness (they were ours) of missing loved ones.

  5. SuSiempre says:

    We lost our Aussie during a routine blood donation. I believe it was 1999. She had pins in her hip from the time she survived being hit by two cars on a four-lane highway. That was in 1993 just before we got married. I still cringe when I’m forced to speak the name of the anesthetic that did her in. We don’t use it now that we own our own practice. I’m sure it is probably as safe as anything else, but, like with you and Obie, it’s different when your dog is 100% dead.I will tweet you a pic or two of Coalie and we can lick our wounds and mourn our losses. Then we shall pick each other up and dust each other off and smile until we mean it.

  6. admin says:

    Thanks guys ♥

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