I knew when you wouldn't eat much food the last few days that you were taking a turn for the worse, Jimmy, but you have cheated death so many times that I figured you would once again bounce back. You came to us with congestive heart failure almost four years ago, and you have gamely trudged on, never once complaining about your health problems.
At least, not that I could tell. You certainly were more stoic than me, a person who whines over relatively modest illnesses.
Unfortunately, your kidneys and liver just about shut down the last few days, and the vet told me that any efforts to prolong your life would just be extending the obvious discomfort you feel. This also saddened the folks at Graber's Animal Hospital, where you were known by everyone as a patient and gentle dog, though the fact that they knew you so well also meant that you have been a frequent guest for treatments. So I drove back to the animal hospital knowing that this would be the last time I was able to pet you.
I made such a trip a few years ago, and it never gets any easier to say goodbye to an old friend. This time I chose to hold you while the vet injected the drug that would put you to sleep for good. It was obvious that the opiated cocktail brought you rapid relief, and you gazed up at me for about 30 seconds with a dreamy, peaceful appearance before the vet checked one more time for your fading pulse.
I take home another empty collar, eyes welling with tears as I am already missing your goofy bark, that joyful "BAH-ROOOO" howl you made when you wanted a treat. I am also missing your quiet insistence on getting petted, where you would nudge your nose under my hand and make me notice you.
Hope to see you again someday, old friend. You were a very good doggie, indeed.