Aug 11, 2005

Weepy Pet Tale

I have always found stories from pet owners to be something I didn’t identify with, especially people who write about the death of a treasured pet. Maudlin, tacky, self-absorbed; I was never at a loss for words to find ways to denigrate pet stories.

I love my chocolate Lab Hershey, and consider him a member of the family. He is a good-tempered dog who never bites, barks menacingly at strangers, and –until recently – kept the neighborhood opossums, raccoons, and rabbits away from my gardens.

Like all pets, Hershey has developed unique bonds with the various family members, even my wonderful (but canine-suspicious) wife. If you were depressed, that innate dog ability to detect human emotions kicked in, and he would paddle over to give you a sloppy kiss to cheer you up.

But HistoryMike write a sappy blog entry or newspaper article about his dog? Never!

I am a serious writer, whatever the hell that is.

My dog’s veterinarian told me today that his hip dysplasia and arthritis had reached the point that his canine spinal cord was being distended, and that the only option left for Hershey is to be euthanized.

“No way, it’s not his time,” was the defiant response of my youngest son, ignoring the fact that the dog is pitifully hopping on three legs, and can’t climb steps any longer. “He has at least another year left.”

Another year of decreasing mobility, escalating pain, and loss of sensation.

This is just a dog, right? So why am I bawling my eyes out?


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your dog. He's beautiful.

historymike said...

Yep, he is a terrific dog. I guess we will try to make his last few weeks special for him.

Anonymous said...

Very sad.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
historymike said...

Filthy spammers.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Isn't it amazing how those otherwise "useless creatures" have developed the ability to work their way into even the coldest of stone hearts, making you bawl like a baby when their time to pass on to (hopefully) a "better" place/life?

Not that it has ever happened to me. I'm a tough guy... Sniff :-(

Q. Mike was Hershey actually named Herschel, or perhaps after the candy that is similarly colored to his gorgeous coat?

historymike said...

Funny you should ask, Hooda.

He was named Hershey by my kids, whose (then) pre-school minds thought that he was the color of the candy bar.

However, as often happens, he picked up the nickname of "Herschel," and we often engaged in pseudo-Yiddish conversations:

(Me): Oy, Herschel, how are you today?
(Hershey): Woof.
(Me): Ah, you're meshuga!
(Hershey): Woof.

And so forth.

We have decided to delay his final visit to the vet for a few weeks. The kids were beside themselves with grief, and the dog isn't in much pain, so we'll enjoy a few sunny August and September weeks.

It is a temporary relief, and a bit of procrastinating on my part, but at least we'll get a chance to send him off in style.

Lots of meat scraps, since we don't have to worry about him watching his weight any more.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I don't envy you that last trip. The extra time won't make it any easier either.

Well, everyone will have a good cry anyway. After you are losing a family member AND a trusted friend.

Give Herschel a pat and a scratch for me...

Sniff :-(

Scott said...

I did the same thing when I had to put my childhood dog down, and when my wife (ex-wife now) and I had to put our cat down.
Pets ARE a part of the family!

Lisa Renee said...

I cried when I read this, I know first hand how hard it is on children to lose a loved pet as well as adults. They add so much to our lives and ask so little in return.

historymike said...

"...they ask so little in return..."

I think that is why we feel so bad when we have to make decisions like this. Pets trust us, love us, and count on us to take care of them.

I know that the day I take Hershey in for the "green mile" that I will feel like a real heel, no matter how much I tell myself that it's in his best interest.

I have decided to put off the day of reckoning for at least a few weeks. It's warm, and he is not in much pain, although he has virtually no sensation below his lower spine. The vet was pinching is toes with pliers, and the dog was completely oblivious to what would normally be yelp-worthy.

Anonymous said...

Back in April I had to put down my long-time companion. The vet couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong with him. Their best guess was a brain anurysm.

There was something that helped me through that time after....when I was wondering if I had done everything I could. It was a part of "A Dog's Prayer" by Beth Norman Harris.

Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
And, my friend, when I am very old and no longer able to enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going, and do not turn me away from you. Please see the my trusting life is taken gently, as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your loving hands.