Monday, March 26, 2007

Time That Came To An End

So, on Friday afternoon, after my last post, we had to take the dog to be put down. All morning long, the dog followed me around, velcroed to my leg, and just looked sad. Lots of heavy panting and pacing going on, which I know meant pain. I had gone to pick Hootie up from preschool, and afterwards we went to get some grapefruit-sized river rocks from the quarry to surround the new lavender bed I am making in my front yard. The guys were out in the yard pulling up my ivy bed (where the lavender would go) and I went inside to get some water. The dog was lying in a spot entirely atypical for him to lie. He was on his side, legs straight out and floppy, which was also quite unusual since he's been only gingerly getting up and down over the last week. He wasn't panting, he was breathing slowly, and his lip was floppy on the floor. When I came in, he raised up his head a second, then put it back down on the floor. I thought maybe we'd just woken him up, since he's been exhausted, not sleeping well for the last week. I leaned down to give him a bite of my NutriGrain bar, and he didn't even sniff at it. This was the biggest tell-tale sign for me. This dog has ravenously eaten anything and everything I have given him in all 13 years of his life. He just isn't a dog who turns away a bite of food, especially HUMAN food, the Holy Grail and very rarely offered. It was about 3:45pm on a Friday and the thought of going through the weekend and risking the possibility that the dog could die in my house, while I'm alone with my 3 1/2 year old child... that wasn't even remotely okay with me. I can't lift him myself without a lot of effort and strain on my already bad shoulder, and what do you do with a deceased dog on a weekend anyway?! He couldn't even stand up. I knew it was time. So I called the vet, asked them to prepare a room, that I was bringing him up. I had been telling Hootie that Floyd was sick, and wouldn't be with us much longer, so it wasn't a total shock to her when I said she needed to lie down on the floor with him and say her goodbyes to him. She was very sad, crying on him and telling him how much she loved him, how he's been such a good dog and she will really miss him. Then she asked me why he had to die. I said that he is old, and has gotten very sick, and it's not something the doctors can fix anymore. But it is much better for us to help him die and go to heaven rather than let him suffer in pain here on earth until he dies on his own. She asked me about heaven, where it is and what it is. We've said prayers at night for a while now, and we say grace before meals, and she goes to a Christian preschool, so she's heard terms like God, Jesus, heaven, and so forth. But this was her first experience with it right up in her face. I told her that in heaven, Floyd will be able to run through the pasture chasing rabbits and chewing sticks and rawhide. He'll always have a big bowl of food to eat and fresh water to drink, and the energy to run and play all day. She said that would be good for Floyd, but she'll miss him. She wanted to see if she could go visit him, and I had to tell her no, we won't see Floyd until WE go to heaven, when we die. Of course she wanted to know when that's going to be, and I told her nobody ever really knows. But it'll be a long, long, long time from now.
I had to get one of the workers from outside to come lift him from the living room and into the back of my Subaru, and I'm sure he was a little wigged out by me crying the whole time. We drove up, and the staff let us into the room. They brought him in on a stretcher from the back of my car, and Hootie hugged him one last time. The staff of the clinic took her and kept her busy while I sat with him. They gave him an injection that would make him fall asleep first, so that he would not have any experience of the sensation of euthanasia. I held his head in my lap while the injection worked, and he fell asleep. I took off his collar and I said my goodbyes to him and told him he'd been a good dog. Then I left and took Hootie home while they completed the euthanasia. I couldn't sit and watch that part. I just couldn't do that, and Hootie was starting to look and call for me anyway out in the lobby. So I took her home, and went about the process of cleaning up the reminders of the dog. Leashes, dinner bowl, water dish, medicine, brushes, nail trimmers, dog bed.
I look around at night and see where his bed used to be, and I know that I miss him. I am sort of relishing in the fact that my house isn't filthy and full of dog hair. I don't know what to do with that extra 20 minutes a day that I used to spend stick-vacuuming the house of dog fur. :-) But I miss things like him putting his big heavy blonde head on my leg while I paint, or the little sounds he'd make while lying down. We aren't getting another, despite Hootie having asked me several times if we can get a new pet. And she doesn't mean a fish. I know she wants another dog. She'd take a cat, but we can't do cats since we're allergic (me and the husband). So we'll have to just make due with each other and no animal for a while.

1 comment:

em said...

Your post brought back the vivid memories of when I put down my dog last year. It's still right there on the surface, and I know exactly what "look" from him you are refering to ... he was ready. You made the right choice at the right time.

And thank God Hootie took it as well as she did. What a good little trooper.

Enjoy the quiet time for now. And the clean floors.