Vale settled into retirement at my parents house.
I’d look after the girls whenever Mum and Dad were away.
Vale and Chelly enjoyed playing together and would often have sleepovers.
On a lovely sunny July morning, Mum rang me at half past six.
“Nicki, something’s wrong with Vale! I think you should come over straight away!”
In the background I could hear high pitched barking. Vale sounded frightened and upset.
Shaking, I pulled on my dressing gown and slippers and called Chelsea.
She seemed to know something was wrong as she trotted over to me and put her head in her harness straight away.
Mum had told me to go round the back of the house as Vale was by the door and wouldn’t move.
As soon as I got there I knew something wasn’t right.
Vale growled at me and wouldn’t move, Mum advised me to stay in the lounge while she kept an eye on Vale.
I rang the emergency vet straight away.
“It sounds as if Vale’s having some sort of fit, it could be a brain tumour or…”
To be honest, the rest is a blur.
I remember the barking stopped about an hour and a half later.
Vale ate some sardines which was one of her favourite treats.
We took her to the vets and were told to monitor her for 24 hours. We were warned she could have further fits.
She did, the next morning.
This time I was there from the beginning – she started barking and shaking.
I’m feeling incredibly anxious, just writing this now!
It was awful seeing her like that, knowing there was nothing I could do to make her better.
She was put on tablets and had no more fits.
However, I realised we wouldn’t have her for very much longer.
I bought a baby monitor and Vale came to live with Chelly and me in my flat, just down the road from my parents.
Her walking pace slowed severely and she seemed to age very quickly.
However, she became cuter and sweeter in a way too.
Sometimes, she’d pick up a toy and bring it to me, the way she had done in the past. .
I’d put Chelly out, close the door and for a few minutes – it was just Vale and I.
The day before Chelsea’s fifth birthday was the day the vet told me I needed to think about letting Vale go.
She’d collapsed the day before and was very unsteady on her legs. Dad took us to the vet and she was given an injection.
When we got home she messed in the house, something I’d heard happened before the inevitable.
I rang my parents and told them what the vet had said.
We were all in tears.
I knew what I had to do though. I had to help Vale, for her, not me!
I’ve heard people say: “I couldn’t do it! I’m not ready!” to me that is thoughtless, selfish and cruel.
I know I sound judgmental, but I couldn’t let Vale suffer when I could do something to make her better.
What kind of life would she have had. A life of messing in the house, pain and general suffering. Could you do that to an animal you’d loved for 12 years and a day?
The vet couldn’t come round that day luckily, so we had a bit more time with Goldilox. .
I had a lot of support from the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association. They arranged for the local pet crematoria to collect Vale and arranged for her death certificate to be brailed, as well as putting her name in braille on her casket.
I can’t write about the next few days, it’s too emotional and personal. but it was the most beautiful death she could have had – I was there with her at the end, as well as my parents, Chelsea and two friends who absolutely adored her.
I had no idea something could hurt me so much!
The fact that I’ll have to go through that at least five more times in my life fills me with absolute terror!
I know though, they are worth every tear!
I think a line from a Rudyard Kipling poem sums it up very well:
“Brothers and sisters I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”