Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Almost exactly fifteen years ago, I was pregnant. And while some people will always remember this pregnancy ending in a miscarriage, I will always think of that pregnancy resulting in our dog, Cosmo. After all, the dog was as much my husband's doing as the pregnancy was.

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.


Michele Johnson said...

My mom said the only time she saw my dad cry in their many years of marriage is when they had to put their beloved dog down. I cried just reading this post. From one dog lover to another, you have my greatest sympathy.

Barbara said...

Jody, I am sobbing right now. I thought we were losing our 13 yr old dog a couple of weeks ago because she collapsed on two seperate occasions.(She's a bigger dog and already on borrowed time.) She refused to eat dog food and was pooping in the house. She has somehow made a full recovery and is back to being bouncy...for now. But obviously we know her days are numbered. I am the one who has to make the call as to when it's time, and it's the hardest, but most humane thing you can do. Now if only we could do that with people. So sorry for your loss.

Rebekah c said...

Aww, I'm so so sorry. The little four legged kids are just as special and important to us in their own ways.

*gentle hugs*

DeeDee in SC said...

Being an animal lover who has always had a critter to love & cherish...I've also had to endure many losses. My sympathies are with you and yours, Jody. God bless!

Lynn said...

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

The Mean Mom said...

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to leave such nice comments. It really means a lot to me that you not only took the time to read, but to respond.

nina said...

This post just made me cry from start to finish. 4 years ago on our anniversary my husband and i had to put our cat to sleep after 15 years of being my other best friend. It was horrible. Not only was it the first real gift my husband ever gave me but my 4 year old was totally in love with the furry old guy too. So as bad as that day was the 2 months of my son asking every day "why did Maxx have to die" was almost as bad. I cried every time I told the story to him. I'm very sorry for your loss.

HomesCoolMom said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you will find a new vet for your new puppy. The one you had was an insensitive jerk. We had a vet like him once. He tried to convince us to keep our poor kitty alive with expensive treatments, diets, etc and claimed he only wanted what was best (yeah, for him). Greedy pig. Putting her down was the hardest thing I've ever done. We found another vet who didn't doubt our judgment. I was 6 months pregnant and I don't think I've ever cried so hard. Before kids, my pets were my babies. It's not a decision anyone makes lightly. Well, maybe some do, but any vet worthy of your business would know the difference. You did the right thing for your doggie. He went to sleep in your arms peacefully, not suffering alone in the middle of the night, or when no one was at home. Be glad you found the courage to give him that final gift. My prayers go out to your family.