Over the weekend, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. I had to take the step and euthanize my dog, Lola.
Lola was a rescue from Puerto Rico, being 1 of 13. When we were researching adoption options, we saw this and traveled about 2 hours to pick her up. She came right up to us, nestled into our arms, and fell asleep.
From there, she never left our side. Through the good times and bad, Lola was next to me, no matter what. She woke up with me every morning, she slept right next to me in my bed. Nothing could be compared to her glowing eyes, her hatred for the UPS truck & school bus, and her unconditional love. I can’t recall crying as hard as I did when I brought her in the vet’s office and laid next to her during the entire process. She never left my side, and I promised to never leave hers.
Always on my mind, I am constantly trying to correlate my experiences outside of the education world to what we as educators do everyday. The first thing that comes to mind is the need for empathy for not only our students, but for our staff as well. I’ve heard one of my former bosses use the phrase “we dont know what happens outside of school — maybe they didn’t eat breakfast, maybe Mom & Dad had a fight, maybe their hamster died.” After this weekend, that phrase has a whole new meaning for me. I couldn’t think straight in the past 48 hours. Coming home and not having Lola meet me at the door was heartbreaking. If I had to go into work right after putting my dog down, how could I possibly get anything productive done except eat through boxes of tissues? The same goes for every student and staff member. We need to understand those around us to enhance learning.
The next thing that comes to mind is reflection. As sad is at it is when I’m looking at an empty dog food & water bowl, I can’t help but to think of all of the wonderful moments and happiness she gave me. Like all grief, we need to reflect and transcend back into our daily lives. The next time a student fails a test or a teacher bombs a lesson (we’ve all been there) – dig deeper. What happened? Was it an external force that occurred? Was something not quite right? How can we as teachers and administrators help?
Finally, I’m thinking about the big picture. How can we make Lola’s life a teachable moment? Sure, we can go into euthanasia, families, and grief, but what else? I feel that this whole experience belongs in the two books I am penning now, but showing more of how to turn lemons into the best glass of lemonade one can drink.
So until we meet again, Lola-bears, bye for now! Thanks for being the best dog in the world. You will be missed in so many ways, and will always have a piece of my heart. I hope there’s plenty of socks, snacks, and buddies to keep you happy. We will be together again, but until then, mwah!