…for a girl like her. Today I mourn the loss of my canine soulmate. Cinder is my everything. She is more than I ever could ask a canine companion to be. She is a German Shepherd like no other I’ve ever had the chance to meet, and the best part is, her and I, we were one, for 6 wonderful years.
She is so incredibly intelligent, balanced, respectful, protective and kind. It’s her unconditional love that I will miss every day of my future life. She helped me show people that German Shepherds are not to be feared. She got camp grounds to remove their bans on German Sheps after meeting her and proving them wrong. She showed the fearful that she was a kind and gentle soul and would slather them in kisses to prove it! She even won over the haters!!
How we got to today.
Just over a year ago Cinder ruptured her ACL on her hind left leg. X-rays also revealed a partial tear of her right ACL. Surgery was upwards of $8-$10,000 and not a guarantee with a fairly long restricted recovery. We took an alternative route, a brace for her ruptured leg, cartrophen shots at the vet and some natural supplements.
Now, Miss Cinder can be a bit stubborn and it took us a few different styles of braces before we got one she would walk in while wearing. If you knew Cinder well, you’d know she spent most of her day roaming our 23 acres while on flock protection duty. Her brace wasn’t meant to be worn other than for ‘short designated’ walks. Well, I wasn’t telling them that this working dog stays at it most of the day … We were just going to figure out what would work.
We had already retired the ball and chuck-it as soon as the first ACL ruptured. She lived to find that ball after we buried it in the bush and we took the throwing of it away to help preserve her right leg and reduce her pain in the left. Every day she would get her ball and drop it at your feet and stare at you. Waiting. Not understanding. Eventually she’d take it and give up and roll all over it. The ultimate love of a toy. Now to tell her to stay put on her bed, she’d have to be in her dog crate/kennel locked up for that to happen. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to her. It’s not in her DNA. This is a German shepherd, the working and incredibly intelligent breed! My golden retriever would ask for that recommendation in writing so he can show me for the days I force him off his bed but Miss Cinder wouldn’t have any of that. She had a job to do.
The brace helped. It definitely did. However, it wears on her, and if worn too long she will bleed. We made some adjustments and got minimal use out of it before she would start to tug at it. She wanted freedom.
Most recently she completely ruptured her other ACL. These are very painful conditions. As far as pain goes, on a scale of 1-10 their pain can be as high as a 9. We were now dealing with 2 legs in excruciating pain. Every day.
I asked a lot of her to live with one ruptured ACL and the pain that goes along with that. She did it for me. She would do it longer and again if I asked her. She did it without even flinching in her personality for over a year. Her demeanour, kindness and loyalty never wavered. Not even once. I could not ask her to live with twice the pain for another year. She has served me and it is my turn to serve her, to finally release her from her pain.
It was such a heart wrenching, soul twisting decision to make. I paced the floor for days, knowing what the right thing to do was, but getting there took a lot for me to finally acknowledge I had to let go. To not ask her to hang on longer. I desperately wanted to, I was ready to beg her …she would. But it wouldn’t be fair.
I love her fiercely and I still can’t imagine my days without her. She’s my girl. We are a team. I still need her. Very much so. I’m not ready to let go. Six years is not long enough for such a beautiful soul. But I had to accept and I love her enough to release her from her pain. It couldn’t be about me any longer. I have been selfish long enough.
It’s been her and I for 6 years. It was her and I with her last heartbeat. I couldn’t imagine any other way. Her and I. Always. To the end.
I feel very alone in my grieving. No one loves her like I do and I know and felt her love each and every day. She would give her life for this family without hesitation. Such a huge loss. The loss of love to give, and the loss of love to receive.
I haven’t cried so very hard from the depths of my soul in such a long time. I was at her side until the last beat of her heart. Her last breath. I held her long after she was gone. I cried into her chest. The sadness is overwhelming. I hugged her and told her I was soooo sorry I kept her in pain for so long and she needed to be free now. I thanked her for her loyalty, devotion to our family and her immense love. I laid on the floor with her, hugging her until it didn’t feel like her anymore.
Such a tragedy. Cinder is gone. Forever.