It was four years ago when my little pug named Harald, who was then seven and a half years old, unfortunately became very ill. This was not something we could have foreseen, and the diagnosis came as a shock. He hadn’t been feeling well for about two weeks beforehand, but it seemed like a minor infection. He was a bit weak and clingy, and he was sleeping a lot, but nothing else rang alarm bells. We visited the vet, got antibiotics and tried to cure him with those. The condition got a bit worse day by day, although this alternated with temporary highs when we thought everything was completely fine again. Harald probably already knew what was coming and wanted to keep our spirits up.
He got weaker and weaker, so naturally we visited the vet again. A receptionist who knew Harald well told us with a serious look that we should take him to the veterinary clinic straight away. My husband quickly got ready and wrapped Harald in a cosy blanket to drive him to the clinic. I hugged them both and kissed Harald on the forehead, telling him I would follow as soon as I could.
Then I got the call from my husband: “It’s cancer!” I didn’t understand. Harald had none of the usual symptoms or visible tumours – how could it be cancer? He was young and healthy – in fact, he was fit. I got really scared and broke down in tears.
When I arrived at the clinic, I was immediately taken to Harald. My husband was sitting in front of his face and talking to him, but Harald was already extremely weak. Now and then he would open his eyes a little absently. I sat with him and talked to him, and I had the feeling that my voice was calming him down and that now he also sensed that everyone was there to say goodbye. It was as if he had waited for this – held out until I was there – because my husband had told him I would be coming. He understood that.
A little later the vet came in with the full diagnosis. She explained everything to me, but I only wanted to be with Harald.
“Your dog has a very large tumour in his heart. It has already spread to his lungs and brain, and nothing can be done for him. It’s extremely malignant. He will lose consciousness, and probably the first thing that will happen is his lungs will fill with water, because his heart is now struggling so hard to do its job with a tumour of this size.”
At that moment, Harald started to wheeze as he breathed. Water was already entering his lungs, and he was having trouble catching his breath. He was in danger of dying of suffocation. Now I was sitting on the seat in front of Harald’s face, and we decided that he should be given the injection that would release him, so he wouldn’t die of respiratory distress.
We went home and organised the funeral. We mourned for him – grieved and mourned. Everything reminded us of him. Wherever we went, outdoors or indoors, everything was tinged with memories – beautiful memories, but now overshadowed by this grief.
It’s been four years now, and often – especially on the anniversary of Harald’s death – we are taken back to that stinging sense of loss. However, the beautiful moments are now gradually returning and pushing the sadness back to some kind of bearable level, so the numerous wonderful memories have the space they deserve. So many beautiful years, with so many great experiences and intimate moments together… it was all worth it!