Friday, December 5, 2014

Goodbye, Spark Plug

Don't take me wrong. I know a dog is just a dog, and a pet is just a pet. There are people reading this who have cancer, and there are some who have outlived their human children. On the scale of life challenges, I've just had maybe a 3/10.

Still, I would like to write a few words. It's a way to organize my thoughts, and a way to say goodbye. I promise the next post will be about programming or law or identity or the web, but that all seems rather dry to me today.

As all you pet owners know, you get a little Pavlovian jolt each time you help out your little ward and they reward you for it. For example, when they greet you at the door and run in circles. Or, when they learn your gait well enough to jump on each leg in time and then jump to the other one before you pick that foot up. When they're cold, and you blanket them up, and they let out a deep sigh of contentment. When there's a burr in their foot, and they plaintively hold it out so that someone with thumbs can do something about it.

Over time it really adds up. You become attuned to where you expect them to be when you walk into a room. You gain a second sense about which ruffles in a couch blanket have a dog under them. You expect if you plink through a few measures of a waltz, that you'll see two brown eyes peek around the corner to see what you're doing. After 18 years of that and then nothing, you are left with a lot of little voids that add up to one great big void.

Some animals go and hide when they become deathly sick, but this one did not. In his last hours he came to me to fix it. Dog or no, it was crushing to see such hope and confusion, yet so little ability to do anything about it.

To anyone out there facing this kind of question, let me tell you that I feel no unease at all about the decision to eschew blood samples, fluid IVs, antibiotics, and I didn't even ask what else to try and give him a little more time. I keep thinking, he was 18, and kidneys don't get better, and he had multiple other problems, anyway. Indeed, what I really wish I could go back in time on is delaying euthanasia for too long. I even had my mind made up, and I went to a 24-hour vet to do it, but I backed down when confronted with a thorough vet that wanted to rehash the dog's entire medical history. I thought I could just take him to our regular vet the next day, but the sun never rose for him again. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had insisted.

Goodbye, Spark Plug. I hope we did well for you.

P.S. -- Mom, you are very optimistic to think we can get this plant to bloom every December. We'll give it a try!