I adore him.
But he has treated every person coming to our front door as if they were a serial killer.
All his life.
He roars up to our heavy glass front door when he hears a knock. Barking ferociously. Throws all his weight against it. It will fly open as he tries to get through, to the utter dismay of the terrified guest on the other side. We are running right behind him, trying to yell and hold it shut. Screaming at each other, “Get the leash!!!” Smiling way too brightly at our potential invitee, “Don’t worry, he will calm down,” as they slither past us, trying to avoid Smokey, gnashing, snarling and straining at his leash.
Even though we reassure. “Don’t you remember, Smokey? This is Uncle So and So..” It doesn’t matter. If we don’t get there in time? Bits of trouser or pant are torn. Loved ones’ bodies bear a few marks.
It has not made for easy entertaining.
After a treat or two is given, he turns into a lamb. He has figured out you are okay. You may have to move a little slowly at first. He’s watching. But your legs are safe.
Now he is sick. Getting old. He’s got some growth on his head. Maybe a tumor. And we, like so many others, may have to make the decision of when and how to let him go. To not let him suffer.
He has been losing the use of his back legs for a while. We have been giving shots. Pills. Making accommodations here at the house. My husband devised a special platform for him so he could more easily in and out get out of the car.
He’s asleep beside me right now. His paws are twitching. Ear cocked up as if he is listening for that knock on the door. He padded down the stairs with me, very very early this morning. Looking quizzical at why we were up at 3:30 am.
He didn’t know it was because I was upset. About him.
I’ve been through this before. 17 years ago with a beloved cat named Muffin. About 5 with another named DG. Full name – Dark Gray. Named by my 3 year old son.
Both times were tough.
I read all the time on Facebook about folks putting their animals down. Or them dying. I know others will empathize with us. I know people know this feeling.
[tweetthis]Anticipatory grieving. Walking yourself through loss before it happens. Imagining. Feeling.[/tweetthis]
How do you know when it is time? I imagine I will wait until what appears to be the quality of his life has diminished to the point that he is no longer wagging his tail. Can’t eat. Or something like that. That’s what we did last time. It feels very odd. Knowing that you are watching for signs that you should make that choice.
All he is doing, is living his life. Being a dog.
Avidly licking me. Interrupting that activity because one of his symptoms is constant thirst. Trying resiliently to make his legs and hips work so he and his Dad can go for their nightly walk. Looking at me soulfully with that eye that is now bulging from the tumor while hoping I will give in (which I will) and slice up some chicken for him in his bowl. Barking a little more weakly when I come home to request/demand a treat.
That’s what I am doing now.
I found comfort in hearing from the vet the last two times that it was “thing to do.” But it was our choice.
Making a decision to intentionally let go of someone you love. But for their ultimate benefit.
Empty nest all over again.
This time, I am not going to watch that someone ride off into the future and mature. Grow into the person he needed to grow into.
This time, I will simply grieve.
Thank you for reading.
Picture of Smokey: November 2014 Dog of The Month Dog Watch Calendar
Smokey says, “No autographs, please.”
Smokey died in his sleep on June 5, 2015. He will always be loved and remembered.
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