When John and I moved back to Las Vegas after living four years in New York State, we returned without one of our beloved dogs. Cochise, a frisky, devoted and beautiful Rottweiler/Doberman mix had been put to sleep a few months prior to our departure. Oh, did John and I cry over that decision! It was time for him, however, and we knew it, so as hard as it was, we knew we were doing what was best for him.
Cochise, Tiffany, Dusty, and Lady - all in Doggy Heaven
Last week, I had to make that decision once again. After our return to Las Vegas we waited before thinking we should get another big dog. As is the case with us, however, an animal that needs looking after usually finds its way to us. That’s how we obtained Zeke. A friend of ours who happens to be a veterinarian had come by to welcome us home. We casually mentioned that if he came across any dogs, let us know. As it happened, he knew of one we might be interested in. His staff had arrived at work one day about three months earlier and found a dog tied to a light pole outside the clinic. John and I couldn’t stand the idea of a big dog being confined to a kennel for so long so we said we’d take him.
That’s how Zeke came to live with us. He was a big dog; a Shepard-mix, handsome and sweet. But, he came to us traumatized. For the longest time he would not readily enter a dark room, go around corners, nor go into small places. On walks he would stop short if there were trash bags on the curb or any large, foreboding looking object blocking our way. It took years to coax Zeke into realizing that he was safe. Once he came to that conclusion, he showed no fear and became a great watch dog.
Zeke loved to play and even in his last year, when it was difficult to get up from his bed or climb up and down our porch stairs, he could muster enough to run with me a bit, once his limbs warmed up. I knew it was time to start thinking about letting him go, but I kept putting the idea to the back of my mind. It became harder and harder to ignore it, however, and every time I looked at him I thought about the inevitable. Last Friday I once again brought it up with John. “I don’t want to be there,” he said.
Knowing I would have to do this on my own, knowing there was no sense in putting it off, I coaxed Zeke into the back seat of my car. He showed enthusiasm as he had always loved going for car rides. I was fine from that moment on until the vet came into the room; then, my face crumpled and I turned away to cry. I soon collected myself to shake the doctor’s hand. Within fifteen minutes, Zekey was asleep for good. He went gently. I stayed with him and bid him farewell.
Bye, Zekey. Thanks for the memories.
I’ve done this many times over the years; it can’t be avoided when you have had as many animals as I have, but it doesn’t get any easier. I am grateful, however, that I have the strength to let go so the animals can pass away peacefully and not live with pain and suffering.
I know it’s not an idea that everyone would agree with, but I can’t help but think that people should be so lucky.