Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Old Dog is at Peace

The end when it came was faster than I expected. On Monday morning I found our ancient incontinent dog semiconscious in his crate. He'd clearly had a stroke or seizure or combination of the two overnight; he'd lost control of his bowels and then convulsed in an epic mess. When I spoke to him he opened his eyes, and when I propped him in the laundry sink (I had to wash him, he had poop in his ears) he was able to stand. I spared a moment to remember that that particular dog fits precisely into that particular sink because we had the dog before we built the house, and I measured the dog before I chose the sink, knowing I'd use it for bathing him--the faucet is also a pull-out nozzle. Anyway, I bathed him, wrapped him in a towel, and put him in his dog bed by the kitchen table, where he always liked to hang out while we ate breakfast.

He'd been abandoned as a puppy in the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy, in a snowstorm. Ever after we called him a "CVS terrier," and it always amused the snot out of us whenever someone nodded sagely and said, "Oh yes, I've heard of those." "Is he imported?" was the best. Question. Ever.

We none of us felt very happy about his chances. My husband offered to cancel his patients and come to the vet with me, but I didn't mind going alone. My daughter went off to school, stricken. I phoned my son.  Our vet saw him immediately and assured me that the dog didn't seem to be in pain. The vet--a man I've known for years, and trust completely--encouraged me to wait a day or two to see if Under recovered. He said that many dogs do come back pretty quickly from strokes. So I took him home.

We named him Under Dog after the cartoon character, and because the idea of calling a dog Under amused us. (You can see we are easily amused.) The children were 2 and 5; we taught them to sing the Under Dog theme song, which they did with gusto.

At first he drank water, but then he began to refuse it. He didn't eat. If I took him outside he would stand and pee, but on his own he didn't get up from his dog bed. On Tuesday morning I took him back to the vet's and said goodbye.

It was a mostly peaceful end for a mostly good dog, the dog of my children's childhood. He was part of our family for nearly 15 years. We miss him very much.