As you read this, I am starting my first day without my companion dog and running partner. Yes, it is a tough day.
Not that many people would want to read a dog’s obituary every day— but wait, some people do read obituaries every day about people. So why not an obituary about a dog?
But no, this isn’t exactly that, well, maybe it is. I am not quite sure because I have a heavy heart and many realizations about my relationship and unexpected dependence on this particular dog.
This furry mutt child kept watch by my feet for hours in the kitchen as an unpaid under appreciated cleaner and quite honestly a willingly gullible taste tester. She was wonderful for my ego. I couldn’t, by her standards, make anything inedible. She assured me of my culinary skills with a lick of her lips and every wag of her tail.
If I had trouble sleeping and moved throughout the house, she would follow me everywhere and congenially found napping spots close by. There will be a lot of things I will miss about her. Except, I didn’t get the chance to hold up my end of the relationship.
I put her down yesterday, in her prime, because she had an unexplained and unstoppable action of getting ahold of other animals between her jaws. She didn’t let go until forced to by choking her out; not pleasant for any of us. No command response, no loud noise, spraying with water, nothing opened her jaws short of this. Not just with me, but with my husband, daughter and son. In the last months of 2016, these episodes began to escalate, despite additional activity and training.
We had removed smaller animals, cats, and dog from the home, not knowing or understanding this behavior problem or its cause. In the last week she had less and less desire to play fetch and her bounce rhythm was off for catching mid air. After my second or third throw she began taking the ball and going to lay down in her corner of the yard. That corner is where we will put her remains.
The vet and I went round and round with possibilities, not taking any action on any of them because none of them had an end result of a different outcome. Not a single one came without an unknown factor of collateral loss and unrecognizable pain on her part.
This last time a human got nipped in the process. The last three times she had a hold of a dog her same size, pound for pound. The victim dog, she had known since each were a pup. The very last time they were near each other; the other peacefully sleeping, when suddenly she sprang and grabbed ahold of the sleeping dog beside her.
Was her eyesight deteriorating? Was it a brain tumor? Could she have been suffering a pain that was unbearable? We don’t know. After trying to keep her active and providing a safe environment for her, I still failed.
I couldn’t help this good dog. We, the vet and I briefly discussed other options. Options like other owners more suited to her needs and the reality of what could they do that I hadn’t.
Keep her in a cage all the time? I had an outdoor kennel run and a fenced in yard, I just didn’t see that as a human option. How cruel to take away freedom of movement and contact that she loved, sought and enjoyed. At first those bad moments happened once or twice a year. They could be explained away by a sudden noise or action.
Still, none of this explains what she means to me or the closeness that we shared. She let me read my stories to her. Its hard enough to get other humans to listen or read, but to have a dog that would pay attention? Lift up her head and lick my hand or face upon completion. Or maybe, that was relief that I had shut up!
Never mind, it was about having a beating heart there. Another living being happy to be hanging out all the time with me. Keeping me company in the kitchen, in the office, at the foot of the bed watching tv or reading; she was there. I talked, she listened.
I am not the only one blaming myself, or me for how her life ended too soon. I still hear the words of those who were closer than most telling me that we had done all we could. That she had a longer life than she would have otherwise. That I will never know the struggle or pain that she no longer has to live with because we have no way of knowing. I will be blamed, even though I did my best. My best, by some, will never be good enough.
Really, the only being that needs to know how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her, is her. She knew. She licked my face when I told her I loved her and I was so very sorry. She laid her head on my leg, she was sent to sleep in my lap. She passed away under the fall of my tears.