A Year Ago We Put Our Best Dog To Sleep
|Bob, about a year before he died.|
I still can't believe he's gone, though I have gotten over stepping over empty spaces where he used to lay. I still do, though, find stray patches of his fur in odd places around the apartment, like under the couch when we moved it to clean behind it, and it's a nice way to be reminded of him. He was a presence in our house for so long, and pretty much went with me wherever I went.
And I still can't believe that I had the strength to do it.
He was old, about fourteen and a half years. He was pretty much blind and deaf and arthritic in his hind quarters. He couldn't get up stairs, so I had to grab his hindquarters and walk him up stairs like he was a wheelbarrow. He always got a kick out of this, and most times at the top of the stairs would turn and laugh at me.
Yes, dogs look you in the face and laugh and smile and sometimes cry. Just like people. Just like dogs, I should say.
He was so old. In the last two months he couldn't hold his bowels, and he would mess the apartment sometimes five times a day. Yes. And we cleaned up after him and most times we were patient but sometimes I wasn't and those are the times I remember. I hate myself that I was even sharp with him once or twice for doing something he couldn't help, because he was always wanted to please his master--me.
Over the last couple of years of his life it was a slow decline. Bob taught me how to die. For most of us it will be a slow decline, and now, thanks to Bob, I know what to expect.
On this last day he couldn't get down the stairs, and I had to carry him down. I remember thinking this is one more, and his last, step of a slow decline.
I made his last day as special as I could. It was a gorgeous day, thanks to global warming. It was springlike. We got up and I made his favorite breakfast from when he was young: French toast with bacon slathered in maple syrup. For most of his life, Bob ate pretty much what I ate. If I made pork chops, I made an extra one for Bob. He loved spaghetti with red sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Then we took a ride in the truck. Bob loved the truck. Bob knew about twenty-five words, including truck, leash, and walk. We had to spell when he was around if we didn't want him too excited. If he and I were going on a camping trip and I'd start to get the gear out, he was excited for days before we went. He knew that the equipment meant.
That day we drove to all his favorite place, including the field at Ashland Reservoir where other dogs romped. He was so happy. He knew every place. But he was so old, and couldn't keep up with the other dogs. It made me sad. He had been a powerful Alpha male in his time, and now lesser dogs who nonetheless were in their prime outran him. One dog rushed him and knocked him over, and Bob looked embarrassed. I stepped in and helped him up. Bob and I always were good partners. We helped each other. When I lived alone I'd wake in the middle of the night, and him lying next to my bed on floor, breathing, was such a solace for me. I hate being alone.
|Bob, looking real good.|