Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

I left for work today not knowing if I would ever see my old dog Dylan again. He's almost 13 and he is showing definite signs of slowing down and being sick.

I'll never forget when we went to see his litter of black lab puppies. He was the one quietly chewing on a plastic lamb chop over in the corner while the other 7 puppies crawled all over one another. We got him because he had an overbite and the breeder did not want to keep him as a show dog.

From the beginning this dog was a dream come true. He never learned to fetch, but he was easily housebroken, didn't chew much, didn't bark, was hardly ever sick, and was on the other end of the spectrum from aggressive. He was such a pleasant change from our dachshund, who was really stupid, and the 2 vizslas, who only knew how to run away. His main interest in life has always been food of any sort and female golden retrievers, the only time his alpha tendencies are on full alert.

When he was little, I remember well having him in my lap as I drove the children's carpools. It's hard to believe that a dog that at one point weighed 80 pounds could fit on my lap.

Just this year we have watched Dylan slow down. He's lost some weight. Sometimes he will just lie down and not be able to get up on a short walk. About a month ago, he began pooping in the house and not even knowing he was doing it. This was very uncharacteristic of a dog who never ever had an accident inside.

When we returned from France, Dylan was there at the gate to greet us. The dogsitter commented that he seemed feeble but not in pain. Feeble, sort of like my father seemed shortly before he died.

Yesterday, the poop was streaked with red. My husband agreed to take him to the vet's today to find out what is wrong with him. I made him promise not to make a decision without consulting me.

I went to bed not knowing what I would find this morning. But there was Dylan, interested in breakfast. I decided to make him scrambled eggs, just in case this was his last meal. He slowly ate the 3 eggs and would have been happy to eat more. But not knowing what is wrong, I didn't want to burden his stomach.

I rubbed his head and kissed him goodbye, just in case.

The problem is that when we get a young puppy, we never stop to consider that it will probably grow old and die before we do. I find myself in that same panic I faced when my father died – you know that feeling of guilt for not having done enough. If only I had walked him more. If only I had played with him more. If only he had lived forever...


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm sorry you have to go through losing your dog. It is awful losing a pet, isn't it. I wasn't prepared for it the first time we had a cat who died in our garage fire. We both bawled our eyes out as we buried him in our yard with his blankie and favourite toy. We've done this with four more cats and I'm not sure that it gets any easier.

But you can at least think this way: We gave him/her the best home and returned the love. Think of all the good memories and how much richer your life was for having included this special pet.

We have a wall with pictures of all our cats we've had.

I'm thinking of that good old faithful dog of yours.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Grieving for a beloved pet is much the same as grieving for a family member - because that's what they are. We're lucky to have animals willing to come into our lives and love us. Sending hugs.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks for your well wishes. My husband took Dylan to the vet's today. She put him on some expensive Rx food and sent him home. He is not ready to check out yet. I love my dog!

10:16 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Give him lots of pets and hugs...sing to him. I had a cat,Twinkie, who came and sat on the guitar case every time she heard me playing and singing. The night before she went in for an exploratory which found a tumour and she didn't survive, she was just resting under a bed, and I brought my guitar to that room and sang to her. One song was Dona Nobis Pacem. I could swear I heard her thank me and say good-bye.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Just like the Democrats, Dylan has risen again! So glad he's feeling better!

9:03 AM  

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