About two weeks ago my family came to visit me from New York. I love when they come to visit. Being thousands of miles away from each other, the time we do get to spend together is really special.
Plus, my Dad is an animal lover like me. He taught me about horses and horse care, and in return I have taught him about the love of a bearded dog. He now has three of them. All rescues I “procured” for him, lol.
My Dad and I have always been on the same page about our pets. They’re family and we love them even if they aren’t perfect. So, when Stella herniated a disc in her back, he was who I called. I remember sitting in the emergency vet’s office, crying, and talking to him on the phone. Explaining how scared I was for her to have surgery. How expensive it would be, and what if it was all for nothing? What if she couldn’t walk again?
And, instead of supporting me, and telling me it would be ok, my Dad asked “Do you think it’s time to let her go?”
And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. There were people who didn’t agree with having Stella go through surgery. But I never expected one of them to be my Dad. He went on the tell me that, essentially, he thought I was not thinking clearly, and that I should not do surgery. He wasn’t mean or cruel about it, he just felt 14 years was a good long life. And now it was time to say goodbye.
I obviously disagreed. And went forward with surgery. But, a little part of me worried he was right. That if Stella couldn’t walk again, I had made a horrible mistake and should have listened to my Dad. I’m a Daddy’s girl, and it felt like this was the first time I was defying him. It was an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling.
As Stella recovered I would send updates, but we didn’t speak about her much. When I cancelled a trip home so I could be with her, he was completely understanding. But I couldn’t help think he was rolling his eyes when he sent an email saying “Of course- I understand.”
So, when my family arrived at the local airport earlier this month, Stella and I walked into Arrivals to greet them. She was a hit as people waited for their bags. Many asking how old she was, but most just commenting on how cute she looked in her coat. We walked out and to my car, Stella hung out in the backseat while we had lunch, and then we all went for a short walk before I headed back to work and they went to the hotel.
The next day, we went to the barn and Stella bombed around so excited to show us the way to June’s pen. She sniffed around while we put June’s blanket on and then we all headed back to the car. As we were walking together, Stella in front of us, my Dad said, “I was wrong. You made the right decision. She definitely wasn’t ready to go.”
For maybe the second time in my life, I was speechless. Hearing those words meant more to me than I could have imagined. Hearing him say them, not because I asked, or because I was talking about how well Stella was doing, but because he honestly believed them, meant so much to me.
And so, my family got to see Stella for perhaps the last time. But the fact that they did, and that they saw how happy she is, is something I will never forget and am so incredibly thankful for.