I’ve put off writing this particular posting. The topic is not a happy one. In fact, I’ll make the assumption that many of you have gone through the same experience. And that is, having to put down your pet dog or cat.
Bill The Dog, as I have always referred to our 14-year-old Maltese on my postings, has been a member of our family since he was just a few weeks old. He followed Nicki, a Golden Retriever, who we also had to put down, but after only six years. She developed throat cancer which eventually did her in. I took her death heavily after she was put to sleep while my son and I held her. I had never had a dog before so this episode in my life had a heavy impact beyond anything I expected.
Bill’s death was a little different from Nicki’s. Bill lived a normal life until age began its nasty annoyances. He had issues with arthritis, but what eventually had the greatest impact were his loss of both hearing and sight. It was heart-breaking to watch while he would walk into walls and furniture or just stare into space. Meanwhile, his plumbing broke down, causing daily messes that had to be cleaned up. Rosemarie, bless her, kept the hugs coming and put up with the inconveniences.
Over the past few months, Bill developed a hacking problem that caused his ongoing panting to become audible throughout the house, especially at night when things were quiet. He and I stayed up together on his last night…I had no choice since I am a light sleeper and could not escape his struggle to breathe. We bonded with a final bath I gave him after he messed on the floor and then proceeded to get it all over himself.
Exhausted after hours of panting heavily, he finally fell asleep around 5 in the morning. It was off to the vet first thing after he woke up. We left him there while they did a few tests and scoped his airway. The results were no surprise. His quality of life had reached the decision point and the humane choice had to be made.
Bill the Dog brought innocence into our household. While we struggled and stressed over the usual issues and ordeals of family life, Bill remained ignorant of the chaos and chose to stay cute, cuddly and showing pure happiness when someone gave him a treat. Unless you have had a pet for some time, it it difficult to explain the attachment that develops. That first time when you arrive home and your pet is no longer there to greet you…well, that says it all.