Instead, I'm talking about saying goodbye to a long-time friend: our dog Duke. We had known the decision to put him down was coming. It was no surprise. At somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years, he had already lived a longer life than was probably normal for a dog of his size and assorted minor health issues.
Add to that the fact that his health slowly faded over the last year, and then took a nose dive over the summer. By the time August rolled around he was not doing well. We managed to make him a little peppier, and more comfortable, but there is only so much you can do for a 15-year-old dog with what I'll paraphrase the vet as describing as "either 1 big problem, or 10 little ones."
I had honestly hoped I would just walk down one morning and he would be lifeless. As bad as that would suck, at least I wouldn't have to make the call. But no. Man in the sky love him, the dog who was beside me for three-quarters of my adult life and pretty much 90 percent of my time with my wife, the dog who took countless walks with me and played seemingly endless games of fetch (until they ended) was stayed with us right until the end. He wouldn't be the one to abandon us; we would have to let him go.
So we knew the day was coming. I had already teared up and cried over the decision and situation a couple times. The knowledge was supposed to make it easier. The inevitability supposed to smooth the emotions. At least in my mind. So much for that.
I'll probably never forget the day for a couple reasons. I woke up to my wife informing me that Donald Trump was our next president. So with that bit a joy already percolating, I headed downstairs to let Duke out. By this point in time he had needed help getting up off the floor for about 6 months, maybe longer. So I went over and hoisted him up. He took two steps, collapsed, and pee ran everywhere. So while half our electorate was mourning the election of Donald Trump, I was mourning a different loss.
I made the call I dreaded and took him to the vet later that morning. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried a bunch. Heaping bunches of crying occurred. When I brought him in and the receptionist cheerfully greeted me, during the procedure, afterwards, in my truck. Countless times after that.
The house was quiet for the next month. I'd catch some movement out of the corner of my eye and think it was Duke. I'd watch the yard for him.
Life was a lot empty.
|I'm not saying Duke was a lap dog, but...|
But nope. They handled with no problems what so ever. Zilch. The kids are amazing. And sometimes they surprise you. Like when they handle something that seems so monstrous and overwhelming to you with the air and ease of a summer breeze.
I had Duke cremated, because why not? Except it took me approximately two months to even go get his ashes, despite the fact that I was in the area constantly and actually took a couple trips in that direction where the vet was one of my destinations.
But eventually I made it - cried some more - dumped his ashes at the park he loved so much in his younger years. And I cried some more.
An aside here: I'm not a huge crier. Never have been. Now I cry at This Is Us and other sappy things. I blame the kids.
Anyway, I think that is out of my system. I think. Since I teared up writing this damn thing, who knows. But one thing I know: we won't be getting a dog any time soon (or will we?).