You see, immediately after I returned home after spending a day in the hospital undergoing a D and C, my big brothers appeared at our house. My first thought was oh, that's really nice of them to come over and hang out with their little sister while I'm an emotional wreck, but I wonder if they realize that I'm not in the mood to make any food? And then Doug said oh good, they're here, and I thought what do you mean good, they're here? You knew they were coming over? And then a little white dog started running around our house, which made me happy but sort of pissed off our "I'm-already-king-of-the-canine-part-of-this-family" beagle, and I said "Awww, he's so cute! Can I keep him? I mean, ha ha. Can you imagine having a second dog? Just kidding. But HOLY SHIT LOOK AT HOW CUTE HE IS!"
That's when Doug said, well yeah, that's kind of the point, I got us another dog. He knew that my brothers' neighbor bred rat terriers and that he had a litter ready for new homes, and he knew that we had both been anticipating an addition to our lives, so he arranged for my brothers to pick a dog out for me and deliver it on one of the most emotional, heartbreaking days I've ever experienced.
And fifteen years later, because of this dog, I just experienced another one of those sad, emotional, heartbreaking days.
Cosmo's health has been gradually declining over the last six months. Diminishing eyesight, hearing loss, disorientation, fatigue, a tendency to trip on things and the increasing I'll-poop-where-I-want-to-attitude left us with no doubt that he was, in fact, getting old. The dog-age experts -- or whatever it is that they call themselves -- say that a dog is the equivalent of a human senior citizen at the age of seven. So in Cosmo's case, he was more like a centenarian and I don't know many guys that age that are still out chasing squirrels and able to make it to the bathroom all the time, every time.
Early Monday morning I opened the door to our mud room, where he sleeps, and was immediately hit with the smell of poop, mixed with pee, with a slight top note of dog barf. I quickly surveyed the body fluid bonanza and that's when I saw Cosmo having what appeared to be a small seizure. He was covered in poop, sort of half-standing, half-sitting on a clean corner of the rug, swaying from side to side and drooling. This was not good.
I quickly cleaned up the mess and lit a candle, tried to comfort the ailing dog and started thinking about how I was going to tell the kids that today was the day that they were going to have to say one last goodbye to the dog before they left for school, and hey don't forget your backpack! And then I started to cry.
While the boys ate breakfast in silence, I gave Cosmo a bath so that he didn't have to go to the vet smelling like an old man that just pooped his pants, holding him the whole time so that he didn't fall over in the sink. After his bath, he laid down on a clean blanket and shook while the boys sat by him and said their good-byes. And I cried some more.
I am grateful for the fact that Doug took the morning off to come to the vet with me. I am grateful for the fact that we were both in agreement as to what needed to be done and the excruciating decision that needed to be made. What I'm not grateful for, though, is having a veterinarian that dared to place a shred of doubt into our heads while we stood there with our drooling, delirious, unable-to-stand dog.
Seriously! Our kids, especially Charlie, were emotional wrecks, the dog was obviously suffering, and we were trying to be responsible pet owners by making sure that the four-legged member of the family didn't suffer any more or any longer than absolutely necessary. And here was the vet, looking into our teary eyes and suggesting that, after charging us a couple hundred bucks for the office visit and sending us out the door with our geriatric dog and some drugs, we could medicate him into a pain-free haze, have the kids watch him drool, fall down and poop on himself for a couple more days and then, when his condition didn't improve, we could say goodbye. Again.
In the end, Doug and I held Cosmo's head while he slipped away and, although that day sucked more than any other Monday morning ever has, we didn't, and we never will, have doubts about the decision we made.
But I miss my dog.