It’s been exactly one year.  One year since what I remember to be the only winter storm we had in Seattle.  Leaving work at noon (grateful for this small miracle), getting stuck on the off ramp, having to deal with a BMW driver who kept spinning out into the lane I was trying to enter and with my tires finally free, drove home.

Three days before blu & I had met with a veterinary oncologist, the last of many vet visits over the previous year.  Originally, an abcessed tooth and a needed dental cleaning turned to a possible rare but fixable benign cyst a few months later turned to a rapidly growing nasal tumor.  The tumor had already consumed a portion of the bone in her nose.  She would need extensive and aggressive radiation treatments followed by chemo and surgery.  Even if I had taken those measures, it would have prolonged her life 4-8 months.  The state of those 4-8 months, spent alone receiving treatment in Colorado or Minnesota, unpleasant.  Without extensive treatment, the forecast was 1-2 months.

Every sigh, every noise, every movement, I questioned whether it was time.  How are you supposed to know when its time to put your dog to sleep?  Saturday, we went for a short walk on our trail and blu seemed so full of energy, I extended the distance.  I took this as a good sign.  Sunday, we returned to the trail, only to make it half a mile in before we had to turn back.  Whatever good omen I assumed the day before, was replaced by its grim counterpart.

Monday, making it home in the snow, I sat with blu on the floor, her breathing labored.  There were a lot of tears.  Much petting and holding on to her.  I questioned when I would know.  And then she had a bloody nose.  My parents had already dealt with an unstoppable bloody nose the year before when I was on vacation and it was back.  The slight bleeding eventually subsided.  But it was the sign I’d been looking for all weekend.  I called the vet and scheduled an appointment for 5:30.  I spent the next few hours petting her while I read aloud from whatever book I was reading at the time.

I had been present when my mom’s dog was put to sleep; I knew what to expect.  blu went much quicker, the last exhale was quiet – the last body sigh absent.  There she lay, with her nose between her paws, as if it was like any other nap she had ever taken.  I would have stayed with her longer but the weather & the road conditions were abysmal.  Not only did the veterinary staff have to drive home, my mom who kindly drove me to the vet had to drop me off, then drive the 30 minutes (in normal conditions) home.

The vet, who had originally diagnosed the dead tooth & abcess said he would pay the additional amount to have her cremated alone and he would spread her ashes in Commencement Bay.  I am not sure I would ever have paid for that courtesy but I am so thankful he did.  Every time I run along Ruston and every time I see the bay from downtown, I-5 or Point Defiance, I think of blu.

My big, furry, beautiful blu.