Within the past few years, my family has had to put down two animals: Lizzie, a dog, and Sophie, a cat. I loved both of those pets so much. Just so damn much. For both of them, I was told after-the-fact that they were gone.
Lizzie was old. She suffered from seizures for so long her mind had gone. One day I woke up at around eleven in the morning and just as I rounded the banister to go downstairs, my parents walked by and said they had put her down. The last thing I remember doing to that dog was tackling her away from a chicken breast she had already half-eaten. Sure, I kept telling myself that I'd START being nicer to her I was a general shit to her, since I'm a teenager and have a low tolerance for things not being perfect but I never acted on it. Now I'll never have the chance to look her in the eye and tell her I love her, even though her mind has gone so far she wouldn't know who I am.
Sophie wasn't nearly as old as Lizzie. She was probably a year old when we got her, and I was in first grade, so eleven years? She still had time yet. But we keep our cats outside during the summer, because they CAN be outside then. Last fall, when we began paying attention to the cats again (It's too cold in winter to let them out for anything more than relieving themselves), we noticed her tail wasn't moving like it should, and she smelled of urine. Somehow, she had broken her spine during the summer. Her tail was limp and she had no bladder control. The vet disinfected her crotch and prescribed antibiotics, but that was all we could do. One day, on the way home from school, my dad pipes up that they had her put down.
I told him, while trying to keep down tears, that I hated the fact that they kept putting down our pets without at least letting me know it was the last day I'd see them. I felt like I was six and my parents had sent them "To live on a Farm." I had no control; I had no chance to say goodbye. If I had known Sophie was about to be put down, I would have let her sleep on me one last time, even if my shirt would be stained with piss. I wouldn't give two shits about it, because I loved that goddamn cat. If I had known Lizzie was about to be put down, I would have demanded to have a few last moments with her.
Louis is a fifteen-year-old Alaskan Malamute/German Shepherd mix. He and I are littermates: He lets no one but me sleep on his side, he comes into my room when he's scared, and he lets me pet him when he's eating. No one else in our family can say any of that. I love that dog more than I love most people. He's arthritic and has some benign growths on his chest. He has Ocular Occlusion, which is fatty growth on his eyes. He is definitely not a puppy anymore.
But I will not let him be put down without me right there. I will not sleep in late, I will not stay home, I will not opt to leave the room. I will be there with him right until the very end. I don't care if I'm at college on the other side of the world: I. Will. Be. There. Because Lizzie and Sophie were pets; I loved them, but they were still animals. There is no way on God's Green Earth that I will let my best friend go into that Good Night without me being right there to assure him that everything is okay and that he will always be my dog, my best friend, and my littermate.
I know you can't read, Louis. But I love you. I'll always love you. And I'll be there for you. I promise you that. Even if I can't tell you what happens after, I promise you that.