Monday, March 9, 2009

The End

I killed my dog this morning.

No. No, that's not technically correct.

I paid someone to kill my dog this morning. I gave them my credit card and they handed my back her collar and leash. That was the transaction. And then I slipped out the back door to avoid going through the waiting room as a snotting mess.

The black dog, 11+ years and arthritic, had a seizure last night. Right in the middle of the kids' bedtime story. She howled horribly from our bedroom and by the time we got there her eyes were rolled back and she was convulsing. It lasted a minute or two. Eventually she calmed, but was obviously disoriented, her breathing rapid, eyes darting. And then, as if to prove a point, she did it again. Her front legs stiffened, her head lifted back, eyes rolled, she shook. She recovered once more and after a while was back to her old, stiff, miserable self.

My wife and I got her as a puppy - a derelict from a shelter who moved in with us a week after my wife and I moved in together. Her early life was utterly dog-like: she loved a good pasture, bounded through water, snouted snowdrifts and chased cats.

She and I would run (back when I ran) every morning as the sun rose. No matter how cold or hideous the weather, we made our way cross-country through the forest of an urban park. I am certain I ran farther and faster with her than I would have had I been alone because the slightest car backfire or construction noise would terrify her. She would slip her collar and take off for miles ignoring my panting pleas to stop.

She peed in the back seat of my car once after lapping up half a lake on a Saturday excursion. My wife kept announcing to me from the passenger seat that it looked like she had to go. I was hopeful she could hold out just a while longer. She couldn't and despite a thorough cleaning my vehicle forever carried the whiff of piss.

She did not age well. Beginning with an injury some five years ago she slid steadily, miserably downhill. She spent the last year just looking for a comfortable place to lay down and whining inconsolably (and annoyingly) at the slightest noise outside the house. But she was our puppy - never averse to a little affection and always reciprocating. She could lick like there was no tomorrow.

The vet said that in a dog her age with no previous history of seizures it was more than likely she had a tumor in her brain. There would be nothing to do it for it but palliate her with phenobarbital until she finally succumbed. The vet suspected she was in quite a bit of pain. Much better to do it now. "It's the right choice," she offered consolingly.

I was a coward and let them lead her away. Shit that I am, I let her die with strangers rather than man up and be there with her. I was just unable to look her in the eyes at the end. I spent the moments before they took her scratching her ears as she shook and shed with nervousness. When I handed them her leash she licked my hand furiously and struggled to stay with me. It was awful.

She was not the same dog I remembered - not the happy puppy who raced after cows under covered bridges or stood out in her shiny black coat in a fresh field of snow, her snout dangling happy icicles. She was old and sad and ready.

Or at least that's what I'll tell myself to get through the rest of the day.


Blaize said...

Sorry to hear your story. Made me cry.

I had the vet come to my house last time, so my cat of 18 years died on my lap. I liked that much better, but I don't think it's everyone's cup of tea.

Bluestem said...

:-( So sorry.

rhonanon said...

So sorry about your puppy. I don't know if I could have done it either. Our little guinea pig passed on to the next dimension on Thursday, as did my brother-in-law's 14-year old lab. Not a good week for pets.

Baywatch said...

oh, oh. no. so sad. condolences.