Farewell to four-legged friend
Things haven’t been what you could call “good” for a long time – maybe even a year, probably longer.
But for the past two days, I was afraid that I would wake up, but he wouldn’t.
He’s our 15 ½-year old yellow Lab. In his younger days, he was a handsome, boxy-headed, 90-pound duck-hunting dude. As he has aged and successfully battled bone cancer, he’s lost his hearing and most of his weight.
Three weeks ago, while we were out of town, he had an “event.” Probably a stroke. He couldn’t get up and he couldn’t walk.
Thank God Misty was taking care of him!
Misty Rogers Cox worked for us when she was right out of high school, took a few years off, and is back again. In the interim, she worked for two veterinarians, and she is an animal lover extraordinaire.
That experience and her love of animals gave her what she needed to take care of Uno. She singlehandedly got him to the vet and oversaw the situation until we got home.
When we got to the vet’s and saw him, he seemed normal – from the neck down.
We hoisted him up with the help of a makeshift sling, and he began propelling himself toward the door. We got the message, and took him home.
He hadn’t walked for four days. But that day, he walked. “Lurched” might be more accurate – but he moved under his own power.
We were encouraged.
But then he couldn’t hold anything down.
And we were discouraged.
He didn’t – and doesn’t – appear to be in any pain.
Keeping up with everything that came up was stressful and exhausting.
Thanks to Misty, we went to our newspaper conference in Galveston last week – the truth is, we needed the break.
Misty reported regularly, and Uno seemed to be improving.
But when we got home, the only way I could get him to eat was to hand-feed him. That was Saturday afternoon. It’s Monday, and he won’t even lick my hand that is holding yukky (to me) canned dog food.
Uno’s daughter (no spring chicken at going on 10), went into a panic Sunday night, and I had to let her inside (that, or she was going to break in). I think she sensed something was wrong, so I was prepared to wake up Monday morning and find that Uno didn’t wake up.
But he did.
He wouldn’t eat. He’d drink, but he wouldn’t eat.
For those who remember Bo, our first yellow Lab, you need to know that Uno is nothing like her.
She was a wanderer and cost us hundreds in reward money. Uno always came home – if he ever left.
She chewed up doors and windows. Uno didn’t even think about it.
Bo was an office dog. Uno’s tendency to mark his territory kept him off the payroll.
There are more stories about Bo than Uno, partly because she was the office dog and so many people knew her. Uno was a stay-at-home dad.
But I love them just the same, and at this point, I just can’t deny how sad I am. It’s such that I can’t pretend that the sadness is not there and write something important. Or something humorous.
Thanks to a book about an old dog that I bought during the newspaper conference, I may be able to get through this. The cover showed the face of a golden retriever. Close enough.
The book starts at the end of the dog’s life, reverts to the beginning and ends at the end.
Rather than leave me in a pool of tears (OK, there were some tears), it helped me because it is told from the dog’s perspective.
So now I understand that Uno was just about ready, and he’d go when it was time. I had hoped we wouldn’t have to make a one-way trip with him to the vet’s office – I didn’t want to have to do that.
So, my plan was to stroke him, look into those big brown eyes and tell him I love him. Even if he couldn’t hear me.
And we did just that. He waited for us to come home for lunch on Tuesday, and while we stroked his soft ears and his bony body, he left.
And we left a pool of tears.