Dead Dog? Not Dead Dog.
So went our queries to the fourteen year old German Shepherd whenever we had to step over him or when he was passed out hard on his bed and it was real hard to tell if he was breathing. He was somewhat deaf, but we’d repeat the question until he lifted his head, as if to answer.
On Friday morning, I didn’t have to ask.
The heavy breathing coming from him was unlike any breathing I had ever heard before from anyone or anything. He was literally struggling to respire. Somehow, I knew he was going to pass. I called the wife, who immediately came home after I told her that the dog was dying. She told me to offer him a treat. He declined. I laid fresh roast beef in front of his nose. He sniffed, but was not interested in eating anymore. That was the cue that it was really over, because all dog owners know they live to eat some of your meat. And to chase a rubber ball at high speed.
We picked up the dog by picking up the bed as if it were a makeshift litter. He did not object, which was another sign that he was tired and done. After putting the dog in the back of the car we went to get the kids from school, on my wife’s advice. She said that it would have been worse had they found out when they got home and he was just gone.
We arrived at the veterinary clinic. They opened all the doors so we could bring the dog to the back room where they do euthanization. As we laid him on the table he began to jerk. His heartbeat became erratic. Weaker. Fluttery. He stopped moving, and blood began to stream from his nose. The vet said he probably had a stroke as he was dying. We thought it was done.
Suddenly he started to jerk again, but only intermittently. Agonal movements, or something like that. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t stop. I had had enough. The vet offered the consent to euthanize. I chose not to keep the ashes, not understanding the need for an urn when I have memory. I signed and the vet drew up the pentobarbital, which in case anyone is wondering renders the pet unconscious before the overdose stops the heart. All the family members laid their hands on and petted him while the needle was administered. Because that’s what you fucking do in this fucking life full of pain, and all of you people that think this world is intelligently designed can stay the fuck away from me. In an intelligent world, you obliterate and say fuck you to suffering, sorrow and death.
If you are not sure if you can be there while your pet is put down, let me say that you can. It’s the least you can do. It wasn’t grisly the way you think it might be. When it’s happening you will do anything to stop the hurt of the process of dying.
He was our unwavering friend and every time I look at the damn fireplace in the living room of this house I will always remember the bed in front of it and the good boy that laid on it.
P.S.: Reader and old friend Rob M. shared with me the passing of his dog the day after I lost mine. He read my goodbye to Seiji and decided to take his fourteen year old friend Ziggy for an extra special walk that day. Look at this good boy:
Strange coincidence! But the point of this postscript is that you must show love to those who you love every day, because sometimes tomorrow is too late.