Monday, January 11, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to Ember

I'll never forget where I was or how I felt when I got that phone call.
 It was Tuesday, just two days before Thanksgiving and I was rushing through Costco, grabbing last minute Thanksgiving meal ingredients while feeling pressured to hurry home and use the little bit of time available to clean and prepare for the holiday.
As I rolled my bursting cart down one of the last two isles on my list, my phone rang. I fumbled through my purse to answer it, and as soon as I heard the panic stricken voice of my fourteen year old son, my heart stopped. He was so upset his words came out in a jumbled mass of confusion and I automatically assumed that something had happened to our younger son, Noah, who was home with Tim at the time. It took a few minutes for him to become calm enough to explain what happened. The horrible phone connection wasn't helping either and we had to reconnect twice before he was able to finally communicate completely. My heart was wildly thumping and I was praying for the situation fervently sans full detail.  When he finally managed to express what happened, I felt relief at first as I learned it was not Noah, who was the subject of the emergency, but when he stammered out the next few words, tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks. My throat felt dry, and all I could think was how much I wanted to get to my husband to comfort him.
"Mom, it's Ember! We let her out to go to the bathroom. When Dad came home for lunch, she jumped out of a bush, right in front of his car. Mom......Dad didn't see her coming. He hit Ember and she was just lying there. Sobs..."  "Oh no, Honey! "We let her out to play, and we just didn't watch her for a few minutes. It's our fault!" I reassured my son that accidents like this happen and they had done the right thing by being responsible with letting her out and taking care of her needs. "Is Dad there right now?"  "No. He put her in the car and took her to the vet."  My son was blaming himself. His brother was blaming himself, and I blamed myself because I wasn't there to help with puppy duty.
Everyone knew how much Dad loved our sweet little Ember. He is always so careful to protect our puppies and dogs, and give them the very best, top notch, care. He has patiently taught all of the kids how to lovingly care for and keep our animals safe, and we all knew he was most likely blaming himself and beating himself up for the accident. 
My phone indicated that someone was trying to call through. It was my husband. Since Tim was calm enough by then, I hung up with him and took the call from Rich. The news was not good. Ember had in fact, passed away. As we suspected, he was blaming himself, but wanted to be sure that the kids didn't absorb any blame whatsoever for the accident.  It was a somber, sad, afternoon. Levi cried all the way home, as he was the one who had spent the most time caring for and playing with Ember from the time the puppies were whelped. He and Ember were constant side kicks. We all adored her. She was the fluffiest, snuggliest, sweetest, most high strung, and driven little pistol and had strongly endeared herself to our hearts. Rich took the rest of the afternoon off, and when we arrived home, he and the two boys were already nearly finished digging a grave for her. We all gathered around, crying, hugging, and sharing things about Ember that we loved and would miss. It was such a sad, depressing afternoon, and we all felt heavy with grief. 
Often people really don't understand how much the loss of a beloved pet can hurt, but oh how it breaks your heart.  She was just a puppy, and we had so many dreams for her. We wanted to train her for hunting, and were so excited to finally have a puppy we got to keep again. It had been six years since we last had a puppy, and we were really enjoying her. Our dear friends, Scott and Buffi, had purchased one of Ember's litter mates, and we were scheduled for puppy obedience classes with them. We were looking forward to play dates, as our puppies grew.  It was also such fun to watch Ember and her mother (Dallas) and grandmother (Tessa) play, and to watch her romp in the yard with Levi, and carry around sticks that were double her size. She was full of energy and feisty. She kept us laughing at her cute little puppy ways and in the evening, she claimed a lap to snuggle up in for a good cuddle.
After we buried her, we sat around as a family in our living room, and talked. We cried. We prayed together, and we decided we needed to get out of the house and do something positive, so we chose to break tradition and go find a Christmas tree that night.....three days earlier than usual.
Over time our hearts are healing, and we are planning to have another litter with the same sire and dam, and keep a puppy. We have gotten estimates on a fence for the back part of our property, so we can let our puppy play and romp, without having to watch the time so closely. There are always threats to the safety of puppies and babies, and children. Even with a fence, we will have to keep an eye out for hawks, but at least nobody should have to bear the burden of a possible car accident with our puppy again.
Rest in peace, Ember. We love you and miss you!