The signs appeared months ago; the ones that remind you your dog is not going to live forever. Our dog started sleeping more than he was awake and when he was awake, he was just there. He lacked motor control of his back legs. At first it was subtle…his back paws slid on the wood floor when they used to have complete traction. Occasionally he would miss a step when climbing stairs. Sometimes he tripped or hobbled. My husband and I commented about the changes we witnessed, but he was getting older we told ourselves. He was still excited to see us and lick our face and smell our shoes and patrol the perimeter of our backyard and lay in the sun. That is until last week.
My husband took him on a walk on Saturday. Over brunch on Sunday, he hinted that something seemed different. I brushed it off. Meanwhile, our dog became disinterested in eating and he didn’t see an imminent threat of evil doers to our property. The dog that barked non stop for 15 years, was silent. To be honest, he wasn’t interested in anything. Mid week, my husband left on a work trip.
Each day his symptoms progressed. He still wasn’t eating and he was losing control of his back legs. By late Thursday, he needed to be carried to where he wanted to go in the house or outside. He wanted to be by my side. We had some good talks, he and I. I leaned down so I could whisper in his ear and he nuzzled in that space…you know the crevice between your neck and shoulder…yea that place. He just stayed there for the longest time. I told him I would understand if he went to sleep and didn’t wake up. I told him I would be okay, but he kept waking up and trying to be alive.
I didn’t realize how much all of this weighed on me until Thursday I found myself in a men’s restroom at an area grocery store. I walked right by the urinals, used the toilet, walked back by the urinals, and it wasn’t until I was washing my hands that I realized I was standing by a man. Thankfully, he was a nice guy and just laughed it off. I knew I needed to make a tough decision, but my heart was trying so hard to protect me.
Thursday night, our dog had a horrible night. He was sick to his stomach and he coughed all night. Neither one of us slept. I knew I had to put him to sleep. The next morning I made the call. Our youngest child, a son, accompanied me. Together, we comforted our little doggy of 15 years and 8 months until he fell asleep and didn’t wake up.
Although we knew it was the right thing to do. Although he hated going to the vet and that day he didn’t even really protest. Although the whole process was incredibly peaceful; our hearts were broken. Our loyal, little doggy…the only pet our family of four shared while we all lived under the same roof, was gone. Forever.
I had to share. I had to write. Love comes to us in many forms and from many places, but only a dog gives it so freely and without exception.